Jullian and Bruno are behind the project called Apiaba Cool Keepers, located in Curitiba – Brazil. A collection of used and restored furniture, as well a collection of stories and meaning for the new owners. Reusing old furniture is a sustainable way to preserve the material, process and usage that has been put on the product along its life time.
What is sustainability for you?
Apiaba- It is a multifactorial concept, as most of the concepts are. It means it depends on many factors, such as health, social impact, environmental care, economics and decentralized development. Therefore, sustainability is the possibility to live the present without compromising other people’s life (i.e.: when buying something, making sure no worker is explored, exposed to dangers, etc.) or future people’s life.
How the project started? why?
Apiaba- We (me and my partner) have already heard similar stories from ours: we were moving together and had to furniture an empty apartment. As most of new homeowners do, we went shopping on regular furniture shops. We don’t know if it was the same feeling other consumers had, but we found many dull, unpathetic items. We felt we were having a hard time. Personally, every time I went to my mom’s house I felt that furniture had a real meaning and somehow went to my new home feeling like I had some like hers. And so, we started shopping at flea markets, handcrafts and picked out some give away furniture out on street. We took it home, cleaned it and disposed it carefully on our living room, bedroom, office or kitchen. As some friends visited us, some of them liked the environment design and would flatter us: we realized that some people connected to our feeling. And so, shop after shop we found so many interesting objects, that were meaningful, storytellers. Some were dirty, raw, dusty or rusty, and that’s how we liked the most. Hunting down those items were fun! So why not living on it, something that made us happy?
What is your concept?
Apiaba- As said above, we hunt (shop) cool, interesting, storytelling items (most of them antiques) and then, resell them (of course we also keep some for us J). We try to bring consumers a (old) new point of view. When they are at home or at their parents’ home, some people feel the furniture or the design is outdated and simply throw it away, not even try taking them to thrift shops. People don’t get attached to a specific couch, silvery or a simple coffee cup anymore, like ancient people used to do. The modern market made possible changing everything at any time. It is known that in order to feed this kind of market the products are low quality ones (most of them), thus disposable. There are no feelings involved. In the counterpart we try to rescue that ancient feeling of appreciating every single piece that surrounds you. We need to slow down a bit. If not, objects are simply objects, dull ones and the consuming speed accelerates. We want to drive our future out of that way.
How do you select the design and products/furniture?
Apiaba- They have to touch us, somehow. We try to amplify beauty concept: something that many found ugly could actually look good, it depends on how the item holder appreciates it. Besides that, we search online sellers and inspiration. Sometimes we are surprised by other people who hold a similar business and the way they present objects, interacting with real people. Although far from us, we can feel that the furniture and its surroundings have much to tell.
How people in Curitiba are interested in this type of shopping?
Apiaba- We promoted 3 or 4 facebook/instagram adds and by that, we have feedback data. Our main potential online buyers are from Curitiba, more specifically, 24-35 years old women. In addition, the city holds two public fairs with antique sellers (Feira do Largo da Ordem e Feira de Antiguidades da Praça da Espanha).
What is the oldest design? And your favorite?
Apiaba- Our oldest design must be our first wall art. We made it on our living room. But our favorite item has got to be the first furniture we restored, a 70’s sofa. It was found in complete dirt, the seating was torn and needed to be quilted once again… It took us some time and effort, but it was worth seeing it “alive” again.
Any nice story to share? Something special in the collection?
Apiaba- Once we were in Joinville (biggest city in Santa Catarina State) and went to the public market. We noticed people were changing the huge, ancient, massive doors by new ones, lighter and ordinary ones. We guessed where the old doors would go to. We thought about how many people, goods and interesting stories had passed by those doors. We had the crazy idea to contact the market’s manager and ask him what was the door’s fate. We weren’t successful at first, we had to try calling him 2-3 times until we found him at his office in the market. He told us nothing was going to be made with them, they would probably go the city’s deposit and be left there. We asked him if he could sell them to us and he replied he would give them to us, but it was our responsibility taking them out of there. Obviously, they couldn’t fit at any car, they were enormous! By chance, my grandfather has a delivery company and he sent a driver to pick them up at the market and brought us, in Curitiba. We still have those pieces of the city’s history.
Why is it important to reuse old furniture? Or why should we reuse old furniture?
Apiaba- Because it is a way of keeping part of our history and preserving what it inspires for future people. Besides it, they last much longer than modern furniture, they have better quality material and an unique charm.
Do you have a “find” (um achado) product at your own home?
Apiaba- We have old original ponchos we bought on our last trip to Peru. Everywhere is easy to find commercial, tourist souvenirs-like ponchos. These ones we found were a tale-long history find, definitely. At first, we were at a hat store, since we found the “Cusqueño” hats incredibly charming on the native people wearing them. So, we had to hunt down where to find them (apparently, they weren’t tourist-appealing) and once we found, we had to shop them. By the time we were paying it, the shop owner’s wife arrived and out of nothing connected to us, and smiled at us. She saw us putting the hats at our bags and saw that we had some other old native hats and asked us if we were designers and what kind of thing we searched. We said we wanted antique typical costumes, the real deal. The things real people wore. Instantaneously, she took us to the back part of the shop and showed us a bunch of old ponchos, hats and shoes, from different native communities around Cusco. She said she decided taking us there because she saw a “beautiful aura” around us and even tried guessing our mood and personal habits. Surprisingly, she guessed it right! She told us she was a spiritualist and felt that we had good spirit, that’s why she decided helping us. Lucky us, aren’t we?
Sustainable living mode does not have to do only with simplicity and functionality, but with the way you appreciate your lifestyle and care about the How do you think this project can influence a change?
Apiaba- Our main goal is to inspire our consumers or the potential ones to reuse something that had been kept for a long time, something that might have been thrown away, but fortunately they still have it.We want people to feel that old things can be cool. They don’t have to go to trash unconsciously. People have to think about the consequences about generating trash. How long it takes to be degraded by nature, how much energy was spent to produce it, how much water, trees and land was used to finish it. By reusing those items, showing in a creative and interesting way, maybe people will keep those things longer for as many generations as possible.
You can find more about their collection by following @apiabacoolkeepers on instagram or by their facebook page Apiaba Cool Keepers.
Interview by Camila Buschle
Jullian Hamamoto, 1989, Doctor
Bruno Almeida, 1987, Student
photo by apiaba coolkeepers