The Found Object

Raven Smith

There is an artfulness and care in how we collect objects for our homes. The vase on our bedside table (the first thing our bleary eyes see every morning) and the delicate hand-blown vintage glasses we use only when laying the table for our most treasured guests. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to begin the search for objects that are both functional and practical but also that say something about who we are. Author and journalist Raven Smith shares his approach to collecting and curating and talks us through the greatest objects in his home - from the distinct and the bonkers to the very precious indeed.

Talk us through the process of curating objects for your home? 

I have two prongs of criteria for home stuff. I really want to be surrounded by things that have a proper memory attached, or they have to be super duper functional. 

Are you a ‘casually browse to see what’s out there’ or ‘hunt high and low for the exact thing in my mind’ kind of vintage shopper?

I’m exacting with my decisions, but always casually browsing. I trust my gut when I’m scrolling, but I also have a zillion eBay alerts. 

What type of object do you have most of in your home?

Loads of shallow bowls haaaaa. Nowhere near enough soft furnishings. 

How would you describe the art of mixing vintage objects and modern pieces for your home? 

A huge pick and mix. I like that nothing quite matches. I would hate for the house to feel completely off-the-peg. 

Museum curators have to make a ‘case for acquisition’ before bringing a new piece into the museum.  What is the weirdest and most wonderful object you’ve made a case for bringing into your home? 

My grandma’s giant stained glass window and shell lampshade. It goes with absolutely nowt. 

Marie Kondo recommends ‘does it spark joy’ as a mantra for deciding which things deserve a place in your home, do you have your own mantra or rules for curating objects?

We’re agreed that anything too decorative feels superfluous, but a little flourish is a must. That sounds ambiguous, but that’s the nature of stuff: sometimes it speaks to you, sometimes it’s silent. 

The word curate derives from the Latin curare, meaning ‘to care for’, which we think is kind of lovely. Is there any piece of homeware or furniture you’ve found over the years that was a real diamond in the rough? How did you bring it back to life? 

Hmmm, I don’t tend to buy fixer-upper homeware, although my house itself was a big old mess when we bought it. I do like fixing things, just got some chairs re-welded…

Greatest vintage find: 

A wall-mounted deco brass radiator (£60)

Most prized possession: 

So, so many that it might have to be the fire alarm that protects them all.

Oldest object in your home: 

I should get the shell lampshade carbon dated. 

Newest object in your home: 

The Vitsoe shelving in the kitchen. 

Antique hunting in real life or online: 

I like online because it smells less mildew-y.

An object you’re currently on the hunt for: 

I’m desperate for the extremely rare Aalto desk with a blue top.

Best place for vintage homewares in London (that you almost don’t want to tell anyone about): 

I found a Kartell magazine rack on the street recently, so… the streets?


Follow Raven: @raven__smith

Raven's Objects of Desire: