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Interview - Rebekah Cichero of Bowerbird Bazaar

Creative People

28th October, 2011
Lucy Feagins
Friday 28th October 2011

Bowerbird Bazaar exterior

Bowerbird Bazaar gorgeousness

One Small Room details

I discovered a LOT of creative talent in Adelaide in just four days, making it very tricky to decide on just one interview subject to close this week.  BUT with Bowerbird Bazaar taking place in Adelaide this weekend - it seemed the perfect opportunity to learn a little more about multitasking local creative Rebekah Cichero!

I introduced Rebekah yesterday with a brief mention of her gorgeous store in Croydon - One Small Room.  One Small Room is one of Adelaide's sweetest furniture / homewares shops.... but it's only one small part of Rebekah's story.   Rebekah lived in London for 8 years, where she worked as a freelance stylist for a host of excellent mags including Elle Decoration and Living etc.  After relocating to SA so partner Tim could return to study, and opening One Small Room in 2003, it wasn't long before Rebekah had pounced on another creative opportunity - launching Sproutdesign, a gorgeous textiles and soft furnishings label, in 2006.

And then came Bowerbird Bazaar!  Yep, Rebekah is one half of the dynamic duo behind Adelaide's much loved design market, now in it's fifth year.  The event draws an incredible crowd from far and wide, and has a fantastic reputation for it's curated range of stalls and varied mix of indie craft and design.  It's definitely one of the jewels in SA's busy festival calendar!

Inbetween co-running Bowerbird Bazaar and One Small Room, producing screenprinted textiles and products for her Sproutdesign range, and doing the odd interior design / styling project, Rebekah is also a busy Mum to two small kids!!   I am seriously impressed.  What is your secret Rebekah?!  Perhaps in Adelaide it is easier to be outrageously prolific, because you spend way less time stuck in traffic... ??  Maybe?

Massive thanks to Rebekah who has sent me about 400 emails this week and a bazillion photos, all in the busy lead-up up to the big Bowerbird Bazaar event.  If you're in Adelaide this weekend DO VISIT!  Details below.

Bowerbird Bazaar
Queen's Theatre
Playhouse Lane (off Light Square)
SA 5000

OPEN Today - 2.00pm - 4.00pm trade only, 4.00pm - 9.00pm trade + public
THIS Saturday - 10.00am - 5.00pm
THIS Sunday - 10.00am - 4.00pm

You seem to have had a few unexpected twists and turns in your career! - can you tell us a little about your career background and what path led to the projects you run now?

I think I’ve always been creative and have always wanted to try different things, but just didn’t know where to start. Actually I was a misguided youth who was told that studying practical subjects like typing and business was worthwhile to make sure you’d get a job.   And, although this has proved true in many ways, back then, all I wanted to do was travel the world, become a photographer and a fashion designer.  It took me a while to come full circle and trust my creative instincts and find what truly made me tick.

After attempting to become a children’s Dentist I moved on to studying a BA, upgraded to Businesss Communications and Marketing and floated from one lecture to the other dreaming of travels aboard.

While studying I worked as a functions waitress and casually in sales at Sportsgirl… This is where I found my interest in visual merchandising and a rare opportunity arose to be a part time visual display merchandiser with Sportsgirl.  I went for it and they gave me the job!   I loved it but still decided to head overseas, left my studies and took off. I worked in very practical jobs while travelling and studying some short courses in textiles, guilding, interior decorating and sewing, until my partner insisted on offering his support for me to focus on one creative thing and go from there.

After all the travel I’d become very interested in architecture and interiors, so chose to study a full time intensive course in interior design at the London College of Printing. I loved every minute of it - I was completely reinspired. I finally had some direction, and was set on working for interior design magazines. After my course I approached several magazines and ended up being a freelance stylist with Elle Deco and Living Etc. Mainly I assisted in house stylists so was exposed to the many different approaches stylists take to the various photo shoots.

We left London after 8 years when my partner wanted a career change and decided to also head into design. We chose to come to Adelaide so he could study a post grad degree in architecture. Not being from SA, I had to work out what path to take. I worked freelance before deciding to set up a shop in 2003 – a kind of creative experiment where the room (literally one room back then) was set up as an ever evolving installation.

One Small Room

The idea for One Small Room was to create a shop that felt like a lounge room, so customers could see how each piece on display might work in their own home. Everything from the rug on the floor, to the cups on the table were for sale.  I sourced a mix of eras and styles - from vintage furniture and homewares to the work of local designer / makers such as Michael Hill.  8 years later we’re still here, and One Small Room now includes interior and building design services, interior styling, a lamp base range, Sproutdesign textiles and Bowerbird Bazaar.

One Small Room has opened up other creative opportunities, one of which was the chance to buy some old fabric designs from a textile designer who had created them in the 70’s.  I felt they had a whole new relevance in today’s market - and so Sproutdesign was born.  The prints were reworked and coordinates added, as well as a product range developed.  Since the initial Sproutdesign launch in 2006 we’ve had several other Australian designers design a print for the range – like Aunty Cookie, Moyra of Surface Art and Lara Cameron of Ink and Spindle.

Sproutdesign textiles and  soft furnishings

How did the idea come about for Bowerbird Bazaar, and how has the event grown since you first launched?

The idea came up after attending many trade and retail fairs, both as a visitor and also as an exhibitor. I started wondering why nothing like this existed in South Australia, and with the shop experience, I’d met many many designer / makers locally who I felt would really benefit from a dedicated event like this in SA.  I could see from interstate markets how worthwhile it was for designers to be able to connect with the public and retailers, and make direct profits from their sales.

I met Jane Barwick, who at that time was running her own jewellery label, and really understood the challenges of being a designer / maker in SA.  We chatted about it a few times at different events until we decided to just do it!

Our first event in 2009 was a success. Jane and I are both genuinely interested in assisting each designer / maker to grow successfully into small business, and using Bowerbird as a testing ground.  We think the combination of both a trade event and a public event work well. It enables the designers who take part to really the test the market by selling directly to the public, and gives them an opportunity to network with retailers and the media - growing not only their business but their ideas and networks. We’re now up to our fifth Bowerbird Bazaar and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Busy at the Bazaar!  Photos - Denis Smith Photography
Which Australian designers, artists or creative people are you loving right now?

I love people in general who can create great environments that inspire me - visual impact and a good feeling evoked is always a treat for me.

I love what Greg Hatton does, and like seeing what Tide Design and Yellow Diva come up with. Lex Stobie’s furniture also has a great aesthetic. I love Kate Stokes for lighting and the new flatpack Enoki lighting.

The work and the drive of Daniel : Emma I really admire. They are a great example of designer / makers who have worked hard and understand that to be a success you have to make things happen for yourself, take chances and not expect others to make it happen for you.

I actually find inspiration and get more excited about people I see everyday making their own personal steps to success whether it be in the choice of how they live their life or how they make a small business work for them. I love seeing people make a business grow from an idea to a success where they choose the way they work, how busy they are and how flexible to be, so that life is valued and the the task of earning money can be enjoyed and the rewards reaped in the more creative satisfying ways.

Can you list for us your top 5 creative resources across any media - ie websites or blogs you visit daily, magazines you can’t live without?

The Design Files – of course – up to date in every way!
Door Sixteen blog – lives life with visual impact – love it.
Abigail Ahern – love her take on colour
Magazines must haves - Urbis, Dwell, Elle Decoration, Vogue Living, Inside Out, World of Interiors – I’m an addict and wiill always buy interior mags in any country I visit!
Stylists to feel inspired by Glen Proebstel, Claire Lloyd, Finola Inger and Sibella Court.

You have a lot to juggle with 3 businesses and 2 kids! What does a typical day at work involve for you?

A lot of juggling, being a little mad and working at night helps. Being organised is a must, a tick off list also helps - as does having great staff!

A typical day involves a bit of everything usually. Doing tag team with my husband, school drop off, bidding at auctions and sourcing, catching up with our store manager, checking emails, setting up a new installation, ordering stock, updating facebook and blog, liaising with designer / makers (expecially when in Bowerbird season), attending trade shows, product launches, meeting clients to help on interior projects, playing with a four year old, getting a coffee at Red Door Bakery (a must!) and being flexible as every day is different. Mainstays are: breakfast and dinner with my family, bedtime stories with the kids!

Sproutdesign textiles and  soft furnishings

What are you most proud of professionally?

Succeeding in a business that allows my husband and I to work together, and be flexible with how we live and work so that our children see both of us a lot. Learning lots along the way, trusting my own instincts and following through with an idea. Being willing to try different things and be open to change.

Bowerbird Bazaar

What would be your dream creative project?

Where do I start?  Designing a boutique hotel in Itay. Styling for a movie set with an endless budget…

What are you looking forward to?

Another trip overseas with my family and deciding what my next project will be.

Adelaide Questions

Your favourite Adelaide neighbourhood and why?

Croydon for sure. It’s a real community where neighbours know each other and are supportive. There is old and there is young, lemons handed over fences, visits to neighbours homes, help when needed. There is a creative buzz here and a keen desire to live life well with varied but like minded people.

The strip of shops on Queen St is a continually inspiring place to be, to people watch, shop, eat, drink and just be.  Small businesses have set up and continue to grow and succeed here. We’re close to the city, close to the beach but still have a leafy suburb and lovely good sized homes.

Any tips for one creative Adelaidian to watch?

Hmm, there are actually a few here to watch. I think John Quan has a lot more to come yet and his collaboration with his wife Kumiko Nakajima is bound to take them into some interesting directions.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Adelaide?

Probably Kenji’s Hutt St – the best Japanese!  Also simple but tasty tapas at Mesa Lunga and a good sparkling wine…

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

At home having breakfast with the kids, then a stroll down to Queen St to Red Door Bakery for coffee and pastries then off to roller skating or the park.

Adelaide’s best kept secret?

Adelaide Lifestyle - The quality of life you can have here. Good food, good wine, great houses, easy living. I think you only realise how good it is when you’ve not come from here or have done plenty of travel.

Bowerbird Bazaar.  Photos - Denis Smith Photography

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email