Taking over the iconic building in Darlinghurst that housed luxury consignment store Blue Spinach for more than 20 years was never going to be easy. But visionary couple Brent Gold (of Australian jewellery labels Henson, and Henson & Gold) and partner Jade Gillett saw past the deep-blue hue and jumbles of vintage clothing to imagine a potentially exciting new design destination.
“We knew this space had so much potential, it has so many layers to it. So when it came up on the market we leapt at the challenge,” Gillett tells Broadsheet. “Sydney has had a rough few months and we really wanted to open something that would serve as a hub for the creative community.”
The new concept store, Rainbow Studios, is a showcase of up-and-coming local and international design talent, and is also the flagship bespoke jewellery and goldsmith atelier for Henson and Henson & Gold. The showroom itself has been transformed from its daggy grey-carpeted past life into a big and light-filled space with retro pops of orange, green and purple. But there are still remnants of the building’s signature Yves Klein Blue.
“We love the blue, and wanted to keep part of the building’s beautiful, iconic heritage but with a clear new vision” says Gillett.
Bespoke furniture, such as the mosaic fluted front desk, marble and concrete tables and carved shelving, were designed and built by the couple. Blobby light fixtures are by Sydney-based glassblower Katie-Ann Houghton; there’s contemporary art from Daniel Pap, Frankie Tobin and Marley Alvarez; a library features books from cool-kid publisher Idea; and there is all manner of curios, from ceramic bongs by LA ceramicist Sloane Angell, to 3D-printed vases by Paris’s Argot Studio. Everything on display has been customised for the store and can be bought off the shelf or tailored for clients.
“If a customer wants a vase but in a particular colour or shape, we can do a custom order on anything and everything, down to the in-store furniture and joinery,” Gillett says. “That’s how we’ve always worked with our jewellery, so we wanted to extend this personalised service to the rest of the in-store experience”. In fact, the only thing that can’t be replicated is the bathroom sink, a salvaged baby-pink basin, in the vintage-inspired powder room.
Darlinghurst – home to the National Art School and plenty of galleries – has always been a creative enclave of artists and designers, so Rainbow Studios feels like an extension of the neighbourhood. The concept store will be a shape-shifting experience with in-store events, photoshoots, a courtyard with a pop-up coffee cart, live music, and even kid’s arts-and-crafts workshops in the pipeline.
“We really want to be a place to hang out, create and foster design talent, but also be part of the community,” says Gillett.