This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Taking It Slow At Provider Store In Surry Hills

Shopping

On a small bench in Sydney’s Surry Hills, shop owner and maker Tara Bennett of Provider Store is taking things slow. She drinks filter coffee in the winter sun alongside her cheeky Shiba Inu pup, Pocari, and gives a knowing nod to a passer-by. ‘Good things take time,’ she says. ‘And when we allow ourselves time, we appreciate the little things in life more.’

The ‘little things’ for Tara include stunningly simple chopstick rests and sake pourers, tiny ceramic graters and drippy-glazed salt pigs, washi paper lanterns and shibori-dyed robes. Part retail space, part workshop, Tara’s Provider Store is a showcase of these ‘daily tools for the home,’ each and every piece handcrafted with equal measures of thoughtfulness and care.

29th August, 2019

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Maggie Scardifield
Thursday 29th August 2019

‘When I’m sourcing new and exciting things for the shop I feel totally in my element.’ – Tara Bennett.

Tara Bennett sources the pieces for her Surry Hills shop, Provider Store, from all over the world, but in particular Scandinavia and Japan. ‘The first time I landed in Japan in 2014 I was so taken back at how their designs are made to last. They’re so well thought out and not as disposable,’ she says. ‘I wanted to bring those values home.’

Four years later, and Provider Store is an important part of the neighbourhood. Customers swing by to give Pocari treats, the elderly man across the road loans her his tools, and people stop in for coffee and chats as much as they do gifts. ‘Pocari’s become my store mascot,’ Tara laughs. ‘I can’t post a picture of her unless she is physically in the store now as people turn up and get real disappointed if she isn’t there. She’s started to think she’s the boss of Provider.’

Tara is drawn to makers who have mastered their skills over time. A family in Japan’s Shiga, east of Kyoto, for example, has been making shino-yaki pottery, with its scorch marks and thick textural glazes, for more than 30 years. ‘They have three fire kilns in the backyard that the uncle, the master potter, built,’ she recalls. ‘After he makes his pieces by hand, they are loaded into the kilns and for 10 days they are fired. The temperature can’t drop during this time so someone monitors it like shift work.’ Turns out there’s slow, and then there’s slow. ‘You see a lot of this in Japan,’ she adds. ‘Right down to their brooms and odd household items that we wouldn’t really put much thought into.’

Next month Tara will return to Kyoto where she’ll spend her days wandering the antiques market near the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, riding along the Philosopher’s Path, and meeting with new and old makers. ‘When I’m sourcing new and exciting things for the shop I feel totally in my element,’ she says.

Tara is a firm believer that you don’t have to be ‘creative’ to create something by hand. Provider Store holds workshops where you can pour your own soy wax candle into a perfectly imperfect Japanese vessel (their Komorebi candle, in particular, smells like a Japanese pine forest). Once the candles burn out you’re left with an ergonomic tea cup, which you can return to the store to refill. ‘It’s good for the brain and soul when you can learn a new skill,’ she says. ‘Especially one that makes you step away from a phone or computer and use your hands.’

Provider Store
Monday, closed
Tuesday – Friday, 10am-5.30pm
Saturday, 10am-5pm
Sunday, 11am-3pm
381b Riley Street

Surry Hills, NSW

This Week

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras
  23 hours ago

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras
  7 hours ago

Architecture

A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

The Autumn House by Studio Bright unites a Victorian terrace with its 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen, in one contemporary des...

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use
2:04

Inside Look

Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Exhibition designer Allie Mactier takes us through one of the National Gallery of Victoria's biggest exhibitions ever.

Interiors

The 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards Winners!

From Troye Sivan's divine Flack Studio residence to a converted warehouse abode, the industry’s best designers and projects have been reve...
Christina Karras

View Comments

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Ceramicist Inspired By Japanese Ikebana

A studio visit with Kate Brouwer of Asobimasu Clay, one of Melbourne's most exciting makers!
Elle Murrell
2:22

We, The Brave

From Fashion To Art Startup, With Kitty Clark Of Saint Cloche

From high-flying fashion buyer to starting her own art gallery, Kitty Clark shares her story of taking the leap! In partnership with MYOB.

Shopping

Bright New Ceramic Artists On Show At The Old Clare Hotel

An old bottle shop is home to some of Sydney’s best emerging design until this Sunday!
Maggie Scardifield

This Week

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras
  23 hours ago

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Interiors

The 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards Winners!

From Troye Sivan's divine Flack Studio residence to a converted warehouse abode, the industry’s best designers and projects have been reve...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

The Autumn House by Studio Bright unites a Victorian terrace with its 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen, in one contemporary des...

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras
  7 hours ago

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras
2:04

Inside Look

Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Exhibition designer Allie Mactier takes us through one of the National Gallery of Victoria's biggest exhibitions ever.

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Ceramicist Inspired By Japanese Ikebana

A studio visit with Kate Brouwer of Asobimasu Clay, one of Melbourne's most exciting makers!
Elle Murrell
2:22

We, The Brave

From Fashion To Art Startup, With Kitty Clark Of Saint Cloche

From high-flying fashion buyer to starting her own art gallery, Kitty Clark shares her story of taking the leap! In partnership with MYOB.

Shopping

Bright New Ceramic Artists On Show At The Old Clare Hotel

An old bottle shop is home to some of Sydney’s best emerging design until this Sunday!
Maggie Scardifield

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 bea@thedesignfiles.net