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Lillie and Jonathon Bull are the faces behind Perth furniture company Contempo, which turned 10 this year. We talk to Jonathon about the company’s origins and how it’s stayed ahead of the pack.

“We laugh now about where we started,” Jonathon recalls. “A dirty hot warehouse with an asbestos roof, half of which we filled with product that had just arrived in containers; the other half was our soon-to-be display area. The display area we painted ourselves – floor and walls – and then came the assembly of the furniture.”
From dining tables to TV cabinets and bookshelves, the couple had to unpack
and build all of the items themselves.

“This was a mammoth task for two people, who had not assembled anything like this before,” Jonathon says. “At our first sale to the public, which we advertised heavily, I remember a large group of people waiting at the front door well before opening time, in what resembled a Myer Boxing Day sale. It was incredible, people came in grabbing things, and we were flat out from the start.”

Jonathon and Lillie sold two large 40ft containers worth of products that weekend.
Ten years on, and Contempo is an entirely different, albeit smoother, operation.
“I suppose we could attribute our success to teamwork,” Jonathon says. “Not only with those who have helped us along the way, but especially between ourselves. Lillie and I have different skill sets, but between us have managed to cover all aspects of a growing and changing business.”

Having moved several times before finding their home in Osborne Park, the company now sells 100 per cent European brands, including Minotti, Tom Dixon and Knoll.

“When we first started, people were buying pieces with lower price tags but with lower expectations of life span,” Jonathon says. “I believe this trend has definitely changed over the lifetime of the business, with our biggest success now coming from clients who expect to pay more, because they expect the highest quality and for the pieces to last a lifetime. The basics of good product and standing by that product with good service are also super important, and are why we are still around and others are not.”

The Dandy sofa by RODA has become Jonathon’s favourite piece over the years. “It is a fantastic way of enjoying outdoor conversation, and perfect for our climate, even in coastal areas. Lillie loves anything Minotti, whether it be from their original collection or their latest.”

The Bulls believe in quality over trends, an ethos that has stood the test of time. “Materials, designs and ‘looks’ come and go,” Jonathon says. “To run
a business that is at the whim of these is risky. We have learnt that products of undisputed quality, designed and made by people who have passion and drive for an ideal, are the best ones to invest in.”

Contempo, 2/22 King Edward Road, Osborne Park (08) 9446 9244, contempocollection.com.au.

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