Design Mind: A Conversation with Anthony Spon-Smith of Coco Republic


Australia’s Coco Republic lands in the US with an outdoor collection at HD Buttercup.

There’s an intriguing synergy between Australia and Southern California. Though the seasons down under are backwards, the accent is different and they’ve been known to put beet slices and pineapple on their burgers, given their similar weather and their equally active indoor-outdoor lifestyle, there’s beautiful simpatico between the two areas that translates across many miles. As one example, look to the designs of Coco Republic, which recently launched their outdoor collection at HD Buttercup. The Australian-based furniture company, a branch of the country’s online luxury furniture retailer Max Sparrow, easily fits into Southern California homes with its comfortable coastal style, soothing colors, sturdy construction, not to mention its competitive price point. We sat down with Anthony Spon-Smith, the company’s creative director and co-owner, to chat about what prompted him to look towards the States

I understand that you grew up in the furniture business. Can you tell us a little bit about the company your dad founded? That was 40 years ago, right?

My dad was selling BBQ’s and tested some cane furniture one day. It ended up selling very well; he’s a natural furniture retailer with a great entrepreneurial spirit which is inspiring. Alongside our co-owner Jeremy Byrne, we’ve kept the business innovating, transforming it from a simple retailer into a real powerhouse, that addresses all facets of design.

Did you always want to design furniture or was there a point where you wanted to do something else?

I definitely inherited the creative gene from my father. He’s a fantastic painter and sketch artist and passed that talent down to me. I completed a degree in Economics, worked in advertising for a few years and I also studied industrial design at University of Technology Sydney before joining the business. I find myself constantly sketching new products. The challenge is balancing that with product development. Bringing new ideas to life can be time-consuming. You need patience.

What’s your vision for the future of the company?

Cultivating our vision for furniture and design in a way that continues to interest and excite consumers. For me, creating breathtaking interiors and exciting product is at the core of moving us into the future.

Why the US, and why LA specifically? Can you enlighten about this thing called the Ozzie lifestyle and how it compares to what you know of Los Angeles?

I have been travelling to the States for work two to three times a year for almost two decades so this expansion was intuitive. Australia and the US are almost like brother and sister and California has so many similarities to the Australian way of life. The climate, the coastline, and the lifestyle. In many ways, more than many other places in Asia or Europe even. California is a natural progression for us, and it’s not too far away– one flight!

5.      Talk to us the challenges of designing outdoor pieces?

I think that the biggest challenge to designing for outdoors is that you’re limited when it comes to the materials you can use that can hold up to weather — timber, metal, poly weave and fabric — and mixing them in a way that is compelling and innovative.

The Portofino dining chair

Any favorites among the line? I understand HD Buttercup has 40 pieces of the collection. What’s the reception been like here?

The piece I’m most proud of is the Portofino dining chair. People that I respect in the industry also love the Portofino, which is reassuring! So that traveled to California. Comfort and scale were important considerations in the pieces we brought here. I guess we chose well because amazingly, we’re already sold out of many items! We’re now rushing to get more stock. Breu and Architect are other pieces that have proven popular. Fingers crossed, we may soon be bringing over some of our indoor line as well.

The Breu chair

How does the outdoor line compare to the rest of Coco Republic’s furniture line?

They’re a great complement with clean, modern lines that make them truly timeless and inviting.

Find Coco Republic online or see it person at HD Buttercup, 3225 Helms Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

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