Photographs courtesy of Layer Home
Sisters Hannah Russell and Faith Russell are the force behind online marketplace Layer Home, which features thousands of pieces of vintage furniture and collectables. Having watched with interest as their business has evolved, we wanted to find out more about them, their style and what they have to offer.
What inspired you to set up Layer and what service do you offer?
Layer began organically, by posting photos of inspiring spaces on our Instagram account, producing articles about styling our homes and conducting interviews and photo shoots with our favourite traders on the Layer blog. When we were meeting professional furniture traders, we noticed that many of them weren’t marketing their beautiful pieces online and we felt this was a travesty. We wanted to create a platform to connect traders with a beautiful eye for design with customers who may not know where to find these pieces.
We also found that there were individuals with one-off quality, ‘preloved’ pieces to sell, who didn’t feel comfortable putting them on eBay to get lost in the myriad of listings. We were able to offer them a more personal service, both bringing their pieces to an audience of interiors lovers and taking care of the logistics – sellers don’t have to worry about getting their piece to its new home once it is sold, as we take care of this!
Some customers come to us with a specific piece in mind, something they’ve seen in a magazine or on Pinterest, and we can help them source something similar, if not identical. We have access to such a wide network of sellers – both traders and individuals – so we’re able to find those difficult to track down pieces!
How would you describe your interior style?
We love spaces with personality and for us, that’s always been achieved through mixing things up and the fusion of the old with the new. In our own living space, there is a nineteenth century French farmhouse table, a mid-century teak sideboard and a pretty modern lamp within close proximity – all sitting happily alongside one another. We don’t like to follow ‘trends’ or rules because we believe that our homes should be reflective of who we are as people. We’re not precious about provenance – if a piece speaks to us, there will always be a place for it in our home.
Can you name a few stand-out pieces you’ve seen on Layer?
This is a difficult question to answer because we spend all day fawning over beautiful mid-century furniture! We’ve narrowed it down to three pieces: First up, we’re lusting after a Falcon chair, in particular our brown leather chrome high back version. They are known to be the most comfortable seats in the world and it helps that they are uber stylish and would sit well in a reading nook as well as a larger seating scheme. Second is our Jacques Biny black desk lamp with its petite tripod legs and subtle brass details, its understated charm is characteristic of mid-century design. And finally, our Norwegian rosewood and chrome nest of tables, which creates a beautiful aesthetic and also separates into a useful selection of side tables – we love that mid-century design is all about form and function.
What is your favourite mid-century piece that you own?
We immediately fell in love with an Ilmari Tapiovara ‘Pirkka’ side chair – we bought it from one of our sellers before it had even made it onto the Layer marketplace! Its simplicity and honesty are what captivated us. It could be placed in almost any space in our home, but at the moment Hannah has commandeered it for her dressing table!
Do you think the online marketplace can ever sit comfortably alongside the actual?
We believe that there is room for the two to work cohesively. We’ve always felt such a sense of achievement going to a flea market and finding ‘the one’ amongst the chaos. So we’re always thinking about how we can translate what can be a very personal, significant offline moment into the online realm. People often associate buying secondhand furniture with where they were at the time (a cute little flea market in Provence, for example!), so we’ve replicated some of this charm with our stories and the content that accompanies the marketplace. You can ‘Meet The Trader’ behind the product in our feature interviews or read about markets all over the world. We like to think that we’re so much more than just a transactional eCommerce marketplace – we add the story to the purchase and celebrate its history!
Go to Layer Home to see the range of pieces for sale – MidCentury readers get 10% discount on all stock with this code: midcenturymag