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A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Humble Family Home, Filled With Iconic Pieces

Interiors

IT engineer Trung Tu started sourcing vintage furniture and art for his own home when he became ‘fascinated’ with iconic and designer pieces from different eras. This appreciation quickly led him down a rabbit hole of collecting retro gems, tracking them down from people’s private collections, auction houses and Etsy or Ebay.

His Croydon family home, tucked away in a ‘hidden part’ of the neighbourhood with views of the Dandenong Ranges, is like an eclectic showroom of this unique collection. And it’s ever changing!

22nd September, 2022

The 1970s Mario Bellini Le Bambole sofa for B&B Italia. Japanese raku pottery sits behind, under some experimental works by Ian Armstrong. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Homeowner Trung Tu stands in front of an oil on paper work by Stephen Wickham and a Snoopy table lamp by Achille Castiglioni for Flos. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Swan chair by Fritz Hansen. Sideboard by Decro, which showcases some bronze works and the Snoopy table lamp by Achille Castiglioni for Flos. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Japanese pottery vase. Akira lamp by Isamu Noguchi. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Atollo glass lamp by Vico Magistreti for Oluce. 20th century sideboard. Cubic style sculpture and cubic oil landscape by unknown artists. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Set of four different Series 7 chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Poul Henningsen lamp by Louis Poulsen beside Japanese pottery vases. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

An assortment of bric-à-brac. A 19th century French plaster head of a boy, an early 1920th bronze bust of a Vietnamese woman, and a small 1910s Russian oil painting juxtaposed in the corner. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Trung’s collection of design and architecture books complete the space. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Christina Karras
Thursday 22nd September 2022

‘We love beautiful pieces of furniture and decorative items, so we collected them and just played around to see how they can juxtapose each other’ – Trung Tu

Trung Tu and his wife came across their Croydon family home by chance, while on the way to inspect another property in a nearby suburb.

‘We happened to be a bit too early for the other inspection and thought we’d just drop by this house which was open for inspection,’ Trung says. They fell in love with the sweeping view of the Dandenong ranges, and ‘the rest is history’!

Seven years since moving in, the couple and their two young kids have made the house their own with an endless range of retro furniture and art, which Trung has become an avid collector of over the years.

‘We always wanted to create a home where we want to come back after a long day. Furniture (particularly comfortable pieces) and art happen to be the important elements to help turn a house into a home, so we were fascinated with furniture in the early stage. Gradually, we grew to appreciate iconic and designer pieces,’ he says.

Despite being an IT engineer by trade, Trung’s passion for design has led him to create his own ‘personal network’ of people with private collections where he sources his most of his unique pieces from.

He says the living room is ‘overcrowded’ with renown chairs, featuring the Eames Aluminium Chair for Herman Miller, the Swan Chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen and other famous designs all grouped together, creating a cosy atmosphere where the family reads and listens to music. Other standout pieces include an Isamu Noguchi lamp, an early 20th century sideboard, and Trung’s favourite find: the Clement Meadmore sling chair. ‘It was a long drive to pick it, so we decided to have a family drive and ended up spending a wonderful day at the beach, so I always associate it with such sweet memories,’ he explains.

The house itself is quite ‘nondescript’, which makes it the perfect base for Trung’s eclectic collection that stretches from mid-century gems to 70s pieces, and art from even further back in time – including a 19th century plaster head from France!

‘Honestly I don’t subscribe to any style in particular,’ he adds. ‘We love beautiful pieces of furniture and decorative items, so we collected them and just played around to see how they can juxtapose each other.’

Every now and then, the family shuffles things around to create a new feel for their place. They often let go of old pieces and trade them for new ones, treating their home like their own intimate showroom.

‘It’s like having a new home without the dreadful hassle of moving house,’ Trung says. ‘But for some rare and iconic pieces, well, I’ll hold on to them forever.’

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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