An overwhelming sense of calm and serenity.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a description of a quiet lakeside, secluded forest or a wide deserted beach. Indeed it could be, but it is also the feeling of any space filled with the clean, tactile and simple lines of the unique Papaya aesthetic. This is was what Robyn Connelly together with her close friend Karen Lange, founders of Papaya envisioned - something that went beyond the singular nature of items into a way of living with simplicity, beauty and calm.
The trail blazer of simple, organic shapes, natural materials and a timeless neutral palette, Papaya is synonymous with this genre of home decoration which many have sought to emulate. From raw linens to hand-blown glass, from reclaimed teak to delicate white porcelain, it is in the tactile nature of each and every hand-made item that the outside world is brought in and unconsciously inspires a sense of comfort, harmony and inner calm.
To showcase the brand back in 1997, the inaugural showroom was established in Double Bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs which was a small (by comparison to the current offering) but perfectly formed selection of discreetly designed home decor, hurricanes and soft furnishings. And so the journey began. And it quickly gathered pace. Within the first year Papaya opened its offerings to leading stockists who took it up with great enthusiasm, and the Double Bay showroom quadrupled in size by moving to Bondi, followed by a Mosman store, then venturing interstate to Chadstone in Melbourne, and the newest store opened in Chatswood early 2018.
Within this time, the head office and warehouse has moved seven times as more and more space has been required due to the rapid growth. The most recent, and the very last Robyn claims, is a converted warehouse in Camperdown that has well and truly had the full Papaya treatment so its light, airy, calm and comfortably elegant. With a portfolio of five retail stores, an online store, a thousand stockists across Australia, New Zealand and overseas, several exciting design projects on the go at any one time, plus three new collections launching each year - it’s busy to say the least. And we love it.
Remaining curious is key in all regards to maintain a brand that has grown exponentially over the past two decades. It is never our intention to spot trends, but to uphold the integrity of the Papaya aesthetic and to continuously evolve. And yes, it gets harder to stay ahead of the market when accessibility to worldwide design is easier than ever. A meticulous attention to detail and an unwavering appreciation for pared-down classic forms and understated design is what continuously and tirelessly informs the brand. And to have fun while doing it. Our small, talented team work hard, are proud of what we collectively achieve and we laugh a lot.
When asked how this inimitable figurehead in the world of homewares does it, it’s about remembering why we started in the first place - the commitment to and appreciation for simple design and how the beauty of natural materials function to engage all the senses.