Redfern antique shop and bespoke florist Seasonal Concepts is the only place in Sydney where you can buy a genuine hippopotamus skull, a lioness or a flamingo – or all three.
Unassuming from the street, the store is filled to the brim with pre-1950s treasure – “anything telling an Australian story,” says manager Peta McAlister. It’s like “recreating nan and pop’s shed – back to pre-war Australia when everything was made here.”
The store also features an impressive collection of “natural curiosities” of the geological, botanical, marine and taxidermy varieties. As well as skulls and stuffed animals, the shop sells an array of shells and dried Australian plants and flowers.
The result is a wondrous emporium of curios that you could browse for hours. Depression-era crockery fills floor-to-ceiling shelves. Vintage bottles, Bakelite dishes and cedar furniture sit alongside mannequins and glass fishing floats. The eyes of exotic stuffed animals stare eerily from the “safari wall”, a spectacular taxidermy display of birds and animals. Corners are crowded with buckets of beautiful flowers.
Ken Wallis and his husband TR Keller opened the store in 2009. Wallis sources the shop’s unusual wares from everywhere from school fetes and markets to swap meets and interstate buying trips.
Available for hire, Seasonal Concepts has been the backdrop for film shoots and weddings. A prop hire service has made the store a favourite destination among stylists and film designers for years. Sharp-eyed viewers will spy a selection of Seasonal Concepts’s taxidermy in Baz Luhrmann’s lush adaptation of the 1920s classic The Great Gatsby.
The building that houses Seasonal Concepts was constructed in 1856, initially as a private residence before a new owner converted it into a workshop in the 1920s. He died “on the job” in the ’70s, says McAlister, and the building lay empty until Wallis and Keller bought it.
Since then, Redfern has changed dramatically, says McAlister, who lives in the eastern suburbs but, having worked at Seasonal Concepts for eight years, now considers herself a local. Countless new cafes have cropped up in the neighbourhood – Breadfern and Fern Street Eatery among her favourites – and young professionals have moved in.
“The area is going to continue to grow,” she says. “Huge things are planned for Waterloo, and that’s going to mean bigger things for Redfern as well.”