My Leonard Joel with Jaci Foti-Lowe

In this, Part IV of Centenary Series: My Leonard Joel we visit the home of Jaci Foti-Lowe.

Do you consider yourself a collector or do you simply buy what you like when you see it?

My mum often says to me “I don’t know how you see in amongst everything; what’s beautiful or what’s special” but what I’m doing is I’m adding to a thread of an idea or, creating a collection that I know that I’ll complete with an acquisition of one type or another. I’ve stopped trying to decide whether it’s good or has a place, or has any merit, and I’ll just look at it for the beauty of the object in the moment.

What do you enjoy about buying at auction? Is it the element of discovery, or the excitement of not knowing whether or not you’ll secure the winning bid?

Leonard Joel, what it gives, is always an unknown so you don’t know what you’re going to find when you look through the catalogue or turn up on site. It’s that thrill of what could be, but never going in with any measured outcome and then being open to acquire anything, nothing in particular; that creates the magic, because the magic is in the unknown and not trying too hard to specifically pick something and then find it. I can’t know what this week will bring or next week. And [it’s not] they’re not my treasures, they’re someone else’s treasures so it’s got to be that alignment of the moment of someone releasing and me coming, and acquiring. That whole process is a really enjoyable one because it’s always a surprise, you never know.

Collected and curated, it has a presence that maybe people don’t see when they’re looking at it as a single object, and I love that about the process at Leonard Joel because what I do is I get this, sort of, rush of satisfaction, like I know what this is going to become or, I know that I’m going to collect this, or I’m going to pair this with something else, and so I get to add value and I love that!

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve bought at Leonard Joel or a piece that you wish you’d won, but lost at auction?

So that’s how my passion with the basalts (Wedgewood) started; it was just a beautiful form of pot. The pot itself was just perfectly balanced and pure black, but then very decorative; completely and absolutely not aligned with anything I have ever considered before but, once I had that piece in my hands it opened my eyes to every other black basalt piece that came through on a Thursday.

Everything that we use in the General Store for display is a found object or acquired through the auctions, and that’s created an environment that is really special and comfortable, and homely and welcoming, and warm. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that the only pieces we have in there are old pieces.

Jaci Foti-Lowe is Founder of Hub Furniture and Hub General Store, Melbourne