Mr Kitly opened in December 2010 and is a small and welcoming outfit on the first floor in a Victorian-era building in Brunswick. The light-filled space overlooks Sydney Road and combines a shop, gallery and architecture studio.
The shop stocks a thoughtful and considered collection of functional objects in ceramic, wood and metal; kitchen utensils; textiles and fibre goods; reading matter related to crafts, design and architecture; bath products and soaps; tea and tea accoutrements, as well as indoor plants and a unique selection of plant-related goods. The items we have in store are I think very special, and many are not available anywhere else in Australia.
ARTISANAL + ART
Living for 5 years in Japan led me to an enduring passion for ceramics and artisanal crafts. I believe artisanal skills and the products that result have a unique ongoing relevance for our everyday lives. This focus on the well-crafted combined with a deep appreciation for the art practice and considered design work of the artists and designers who exhibit in our gallery make Mr Kitly what it is. The functional items we stock are intended to be well-used and kept forever.
Ceramics form the cornerstone of the shop in many ways, and we have a constantly changing selection of unique handmade ceramics by artists from Australia, Japan, USA, United Kingdom and France. Other examples of our collection include tableware in wood from a family-owned and run workshop in Japan, and metal cups, chimes and dishes made by a metal casting workshop that has been in operation for 400 years. Textile art and linen is also another big area of interest on my part, and the shop features classic as well as highly individual functional textiles and textile art.
And of course I have to mention the plants! Uniquely in Melbourne, we source and sell a range of plants suitable for indoor and balcony gardening alongside our collected tableware, utensils and art objects. This combination makes for a really nice environment and a bit of a one-stop shop for creating an ideal domestic space. We have all kinds of plants from succulents and cacti through to hanging baskets and large and small potted specimens - all of which will go just fine indoors and often are hard to find. I am a big believer in the power of the indoor plant to make you and yours happy. Not only do they clean your air they ensure you make a little time in your day to potter about with a watering can and rearrange things into sunny spots. This is a great past-time. We are very pleased to also have recently expanded our curated goods to include garden utensils for the complete indoor gardener - including brass spray misters, high-quality English pocket pruners, artisan-crafted flower and herb shears from Japan, and a very special range of unique handmade planters as well as classic terracotta - we have it all.
Whilst we do have quite a few artists and designers from Japan, the shop is very international. The shop does however reflect the breadth of elements of Japanese culture and aesthetics I really admire. The list is long but some examples of elements I admire are: the beauty in imperfection you find in the tea room; the refined appreciation of seasonal blooms and a tradition of ikebana; the traditional aesthetics of In Praise of Shadows; the quietly beautiful films of Yasujiro Ozu as well as the eccentric surrealism of A Taste of Tea; the urban potted garden culture; the spare and simple architecture of SANAA; and the organic buildings by Terunobu Fujimori, to name but a few.
The gallery is a really exciting aspect of Mr Kitly, and we take great pleasure in presenting a year-long exhibition program featuring both local and international artists working in a variety of mediums. Artworks exhibited in the gallery often move into our stock room and are available to purchase there.
In summary, Mr Kitly is me, Bree Claffey, with invaluable design input from my partner Julian Patterson. The eponymous Mr Kitly is one of our cats.
You can see some more articles about Mr Kitly here, and here, and about my time in Japan here.