Home Furniture On Consignment’s (HFOC) Scott Faso, the founder and current proprietor of HFOC had the idea for the business after his own personal experiences, moving from a large house in LA to a terrace house in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, then to a modern apartment and then back to a Victorian terrace. The furniture that was perfect for one space, was completely wrong for the other. He sold things at auction for practically nothing and gave other pieces away because there were no options available. Consignment selling is common in California and has been a popular retail concept for over 30 years. So, Scott thought, “this would work well in Australia” and (luckily!) he was right.
In 2002, together with his partner Charles Hardingham, he opened their first HFOC location in Surry Hills. They soon needed more space and relocated to their present location in Alexandria in 2006. The result is a fantastic concept in sustainable decorating, which works for both people wanting to sell high end furniture and homewares and those wanting to purchase quality, second hand items for their home.
What is consignment and how does it work? Who and why do people choose this option?
Consignment is a trading arrangement in which the seller sends goods to HFOC and we pay the seller when the goods are sold. HFOC displays the items in our showroom and promotes them on our website. HFOC enters into a contractual arrangement to sell the items at an agreed price and receives a commission. This option is win-win for both parties. People choose this option because they will get a better return using a professional, rather than selling privately.
We sell items for people moving locally, interstate or overseas. People who are downsizing, renovating or redecorating. We also get many items that are in essentially brand new but just don’t work in the space as intended, or simply don’t fit through the door or in the lift! We handle everything including transport, cleaning and minor repairs. The items are displayed in our showroom which is styled by professional designers.
Recycled Interiors is aiming to encourage people to think outside the square when decorating their homes, using second hand, upcycled, vintage and sustainable new products, in order to take a more ethical and green approach – how do you see your business fitting into this philosophy and is this part of it for you?
Reducing waste is one of the main reasons we’re passionate about this business. We feel very strongly about the environmental impact from all of the disposable furniture that has come on the market over the last five years. We want to give the consumer an option to buy well made, good quality items for the same price as a brand new items from IKEA or Matt Blatt. And the packaging that goes into landfill from all this inferior product is worse than the inferior product! The amount of Styrofoam and plastic is mind blowing and nobody ever talks about it. In addition, there is the transport from overseas and the resulting pollution. I could go on for days!!
Are there any other businesses working in this way in Australia?
I am not aware of anyone else doing this as a standalone business. But consignment selling has been an add-on in the antiques trade forever.
I can see that you have some gorgeous pieces in your store that I could never usually afford myself! What kinds of furniture and home décor can people find at your store and is this also part of the philosophy, that people can access high end products at lower costs?
HFOC’s prices are usually 50 per cent less than the price of the identical new item. Sometimes the price is up to 80 per cent less for some ultra-high end expensive items. You can usually buy a ‘gently used’ high end item from HFOC for the same amount as a brand new low- to mid-range item. For example you can buy a three-year-old dining table originally from Space Furniture for the same price as new table from Matt Blatt.
We strive to keep the quality of the consignment stock very high. I love to be able to have iconic overseas brands such as B&B Italia, Minotti, Poltrona Frau , Cassina, Knoll, Herman Miller, Artek and Fritz Hansen, as well as Australian items from Jardan, Norman & Quaine and Arthur G. This furniture is all made to last for a long time. I love being able to sell a five-year-old quality piece of furniture for less than the cost of inferior products designed to last only for a few years.
What is your process, how do you go about sourcing items or do people always find you?
We have been in business for over 10 years so we have no shortage of people sending us requests to sell their furniture. The process works like this:
- Vendors send emails with items they wish to sell.
- If we think we can sell it we go out and inspect the item and give a written appraisal.
- The item is transported to our showroom and displayed for sale.
- Once the item has sold the vendor is paid the agreed price less and transport or cleaning costs.
I really enjoy the whole process. I visit the vendors home to inspect and appraise items for consignment and then get them into the showroom where they find a new home. I have built up good relationships with many vendors and buyers and love to know that I can bring them together. It’s like RSVP for furniture.
Do you have a favourite designer or range at the moment?
I really don’t have a favourite. I appreciate anything that is well made and of good design.
What is your first memory of being interested in design, homewares and interiors?
I was always interested in antiques and vintage items because they reflect a moment in history. Charles and I are total homebodies. We have always preferred staying home rather than going out. The things in our home are very important.
Do you have any people or sources of inspiration in design and interiors?
I am inspired by vintage and antique dealers and hope they are able to survive in an increasingly disposable society.
Apart from your work, what other interests do you have, what do you like to do in your down time?
Rearrange the furniture! (this made me laugh as that is also something I have done since a girl!)
What is your most treasured belonging?
The first real piece of furniture that I purchased in Seattle, WA in 1988. A Danish pine cabinet that cost $220. I still have it and renovated my kitchen to accommodate it.
What is your own decorating style?
Charles and I have the same taste so neither one of us ever buys something the other doesn’t like. We have an eclectic style but everything is well made, well designed and almost always bought second hand.
Do you have a favourite place in Australia?
Our house in Bundanoon in the NSW Southern Highlands.
You can visit HFOC’s virtual showroom at www.hfoc.com.au
or the real thing at 23 Doody Street, Alexandria, NSW 2015.