IN CONVERSATION WITH: TARA SOLBERG, OF FEW AND FAR

We were recently featured on The Lifestyle Edit blog where Heidi Albertiri and her team share stories of people, design and purpose... If you'd like to know more about the conception of Few and Far and what Danny and I love, we've included the full interview below...

[The Lifestyle Edit or TLSE] Created by partners Tara and Danny Solberg, Few and Far has to be one of our favourite homewares and lifestyle stores. Specialising in bringing together a curated selection of one-off pieces from across the globe, this husband and wife duo believe in creating spaces where consumers can enjoy their own shared memory of exotic travels and lands far away.

Opening their doors in 2009, Few and Far have grown out of their flagship store in Huskisson, having since established footings in Berry, Bowral and Leura, all in NSW. We recently interviewed Tara, one half of the dynamic duo, gaining greater insight into the ethos and beauty that Few and Far has become.

[TLSE] Few and Far was created with the purpose to source and import from your international travels; to date, where has been your most adventurous travel for home goods ?

[Tara] I would have to say that all of our trips have been somewhat adventurous!

From the conception of Few and Far to now, we have always been on a steep learning curve. Before we opened our first store, we knew nothing about retail, so everything we have learnt has either been through mistakes, or from following our intuition and in a lot of cases just getting on a plane and having a go! Situations are always changing and we are constantly evolving, so it’s always a challenge to keep on top of things!

We imported our first container from Indonesia before we even opened our first store, but I would have to say that our first trip to India was definitely a memorable one when it comes to adventure. Neither of us had ever travelled to India before, and we knew nothing about where we were going or what we would find. We just knew we wanted to uncover the many treasure India has to offer, so off we went! Running blind! I remember sitting in the back of a tuk-tuk, sweat dripping from every part of my body, lost in a maze of dirt roads, the driver had no idea where we were going and he’d constantly pull over asking the locals for directions who would wave and flap their hands in various directions. In India, an address might read ‘near clock tower’ or ‘behind water tank’… no streets or numbers… When we finally found our way, we’d walk up the factory stairs (like 2 little kids on their first day of school), only to be turned away as there was no way we could meet the minimum quantities required to place an order. As frustrating as this was, we realised we just needed to start small, and so continued to search for suppliers we could work with. And we have never looked back! But travel no doubt presents some amazing adventures! And we have definitely learnt a lot from them!

Which element of your work do you most thrive off?

I love dreaming up new ideas, sourcing new finds and putting together beautiful interiors using our unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. I find it so hard to let go of some of the pieces that we have sourced - if only I had a bigger house! There are certain pieces, that when both Danny and I are traveling we both just jump at, our eyes light up and we both shout out ‘Wow! Look at this! Amazing!’ almost simultaneously in a breath of excitement. And then I dream up where this piece could sit or what type of an interior it would work best in… one thing leads to another and the dreams come flooding in. I love this feeling. I feel so fortunate to have the experience of ‘Bringing The World Home’, I guess that’s how I’d put it?

If you were to consider a home away from home, where would that be and what would that look like?

To be honest that’s something I am constantly asking myself, and I don’t really have an answer. We live on the South Coast of NSW and we absolutely LOVE where we live! I grew up on the South Coast and to me it is paradise. We’ve travelled the world and have visited many different places, all beautiful in their own ways, but I’ve always dreamt of home. I’ve played with the idea of a ‘holiday’ house (I think I get caught up more with how I would decorate it!), but I feel like we are on holidays every day of the year and can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

How important is it that your pieces spark a story?  

Extremely important.

This is the number one factor when sourcing pieces or designing our range. Everything must either tell a story, or be part of one. Pieces with a story are the key elements to bringing soul to an interior. We love anything antique, worn or rustic, reclaimed or re-purposed. Old pieces can have such a beautiful worn patina that adds texture, colour and character to a room, not to mention the incredible stories behind them. I am excited and inspired by a ‘collected’ interior, one that takes a lifetime to create, where pieces are added, moved around and layered to evoke a sense of travel, adventure and history.

How do you curate each of your treasured pieces through your stores?

As most of our pieces are one-of-a-kind, we like to think that all of our stores look different but have a similar feel. We love mixing old with new and giving old pieces new life. Through our creative displays and merchandising, we like to present new and different ideas on how our pieces can be incorporated into different settings, creating a warm and welcoming environment. Our merchandising involves a lot of ‘layering’ to create visual interest, dimension and that very important ‘story’. I feel we have a real point of difference within the market and how we mix and match our pieces together. It’s a very defined ‘Few and Far’ look.

What three places are inspiring you right now ?

 I’ve been dreaming of visiting Puglia, Italy for quite some time now! There’s no way I’ll be getting there anytime soon with everything that we have going on (life just gets in the way!) as well as looking after our 2 young children (Sari 2, Jonah 4), but I’ve been hinting to Danny it might be a good idea for my 40th birthday in 4 years (if I can wait that long!).

But a stay at Masseria Moroseta is definitely on my bucket list!

I’ve also always loved Morocco and Moroccan style (I’m about to tile my kitchen splash back and bathroom floor in some beautiful terracotta Moroccan tiles) and had a trip of a lifetime there last May. It is such a magic and beautiful place. The colours, the simplicity and also the decadence is really something special and so so inspiring.

The Mediterranean in general is a special place of inspiration for me. The culture, the colours, the history and the architecture is amazing and something I’d really like to explore more of. My dream home would definitely have a Mediterranean influence - I’m always collecting images on Pinterest of homes and gardens in this style!

Your collection of vintage Moroccan rugs seemingly spark a sense of story and place, can you tell us a little bit about your 2018 travels through Morocco?

I had the most amazing trip to Morocco. I went with an amazing group of women on an organised trip with Pip from Jumbled and Julia from Greenhouse Interiors. I left a few days earlier, as I wanted some time to source some vintage Moroccan rugs. Danny and I love old rugs. We’ve done a few trips through Turkey (including our Honeymoon) where we got so caught up in rug sellers and souks. Again, it’s the story they tell (literally - each rug has it’s own story woven through pattern), the technique in which way they have been woven, the different shades of hand dyed colours and variations in tones, the small imperfections, the creativity it allows the women who weave them - these layers can’t be replicated. Rugs are like artwork and such an integral feature to any room. I spent the first 3 days sourcing our rug collection - which was so hard, as I was struggling to say no! I had piles and piles of rugs I had selected and couldn’t stop! I’m lucky I only had 3 days, otherwise I would have been in a lot of trouble!

After this, I was able to relax for the rest of the trip and enjoy some time to just enjoy this magical place. I must admit thought, I found it very strange as I’m so used to traveling to a country and having a container waiting there for me to fill… Here in Morocco I had to limit myself to what I could carry home in my suitcase or what I could send back by courier. It was very limiting indeed! Otherwise I would have come home with all sorts of beauties - old doors, more textiles, mirrors, lanterns, tiles, ceramics…

The highlight of the trip was our stay at Villa Anouk. Everything about this place just sung 'dream home' to me. The natural stone walls, the iron windows, the carved timber doors and window shutters, the furniture, the exposed old timber beams, the tadelakt bathrooms, the lighting... EVERYTHING! I literally couldn't keep my jaw off the floor...This frustrated me even more that I didn’t have my container waiting! The whole trip was a real source inspiration for me and came at exactly the right time. After returning home, I felt re-invigorated, re-energised and ready to take on the next challenge. I’d love to take Danny back there!

Where will your next journey take you?

We’re very happy with where our business is at the moment, and while we will always continue to travel and to discover new places and the treasure they hold, to talk about our next ‘journey’ as such, we probably need to define where we started. We have spent so many years establishing what we do, how we do it and how we represent our taste and style so it’s unmistakably Few and Far. It’s a constant evolving process but we do feel the hard yards are behind us. So far we have had to focus so hard on who WE are, so our plan for our next adventure is to look ‘outside'. We’d love to meet more people who love what we do and also meet people who we respect for what they do, whether it’s in business or personal life.

We want to grow and expand on what we have established - perhaps more stores? Larger stores? We love just meeting and talking to people who love what they do. Their enthusiasm and motivation is infectious and inspirational and hopefully we can ignite a spark of inspiration in others too. Let the journey begin!

If you have visited the TLSE studio then you have undoubtedly seen our gorgeous Few and Far sofa that sits pride of place in our space. Few and Far is full of beautiful treasures from across the globe, and they truly do blend seamlessly with beautiful design pieces. If you haven't already been to visit, then do yourself a favour and go find your own treasured pieces from Few and Far.