You could be forgiven for mistaking Mr & Mrs White’s showroom – off the main drag in Dee Why – for one very cool and lived-in warehouse apartment. Far from being a look-but-don’t-touch showroom, it is clean and minimal, but warm.
Nathan and Sasha White are the husband and wife team behind the Mr & Mrs White range of furnishings. Made from timber, leather and linen, their designs are simple but inventive and let raw materials shine through. Beds, dining tables, desks, chairs, cushions, sheepskins and even cowhide coasters all fit together in a harmonious combination of texture and neutral colours.
Nathan and his team make the furniture in the adjoining factory (visible through a custom-built viewing window) and Sasha deals in textiles and graphic design. Their design process, however, is collaborative. The couple share similar aesthetic sensibilities, “which can be rare for a husband and wife,” Nathan says.
With its kitchenette, living, study and sleeping areas, the showroom looks like someone’s home because it’s an extension of the couple’s own: where everything except the couch is a prototype. “Tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, sideboards, kitchen, bathroom vanity. Experiments happen in the house and then they progress to the showroom,” Nathan says.
The story of Mr & Mrs White – the business – began after the pair got married seven ago. “We had a small apartment we were trying to furnish,” says Nathan. As a child, he’d helped his grandfather make furniture as a hobby, and later applied this experience to a boat-building apprenticeship. When it came to the new apartment, “it was hard to find pieces that would fit in there, so I thought I’d just start making things.”
Meanwhile Sasha, a graphic designer, was looking for a career shake-up. “I wanted a different creative outlet than the computer screen and I started sewing things for our home,” she says. The pair found they worked well together and friends began complimenting their handiwork. “We started making and selling it from home and then about four or five years ago we started to think we could actually make a business out of it,” Nathan continues.
Nathan and Sasha have worked hard since then to establish the business, selling at markets, via a smaller showroom and now from their current space – which they moved into just nine months ago. They also sell online, are represented by design collection Catapult and sell textiles in a handful of Australian stores. But Mr & Mrs White hasn’t been the only project on the go in the last five years: the couple also have two daughters, Selah Grace (three) and Oak Louise (five months) and they’re all in it together.
“We find that if we bring them along for the ride then they can fit in and enjoy it,” Nathan says. “Selah plays shop, draws, runs around or I’ll make her timber blocks to play with. She’s been as much part of this journey as we have; hopefully she’ll grow up loving the smell of timber.”
If a thriving, collaborative business and two cute kids sounds like something of an achievement, then it’s made more impressive by knowing that Sasha and Nathan are just 28 and 30 years old. They married young, and the story of Mr & Mrs White – the people – began a long time ago, in an endearingly teenage fashion.
“I was friends with Sasha’s brother, so I went over to their house one day for dinner,” Nathan remembers. “I was 16 and Sash was 14 but nothing happened, it took a few years. We always sort of knew there was something. Eventually I built up the courage to get her phone number from a friend and it progressed from there.”
Mr & Mrs White
1/275 Harbord Road, Dee Why
Thu to Sat 10am–4pm
Or by appointment