Monument is the creative partnership between New Zealand natives Leah Forsyth-Steel and Victoria Spicer. Both long-time London residents, the pair were drawn together by a mutual admiration of each others aesthetics and a kindred collector spirit, going onto found the collection of creative furniture and art-led objects that is Monument Store. Drawing on their rich and varied creative experience in museum curation, arts management, film production and set design, the pair sources an eclectic blend of unique pieces characterised by bold materials and compelling forms imbued with character.
L&V – We’ve known each other for over a decade, crossing paths in New Zealand in the art scene and then later in London through the New Zealand network (it’s real!) Over the course of our friendship we’d always end up with a show and tell moment when visiting each other’s houses, sharing our latest acquisitions and frothing over each other’s finds. We’d often joke about when we were going to go into business.
Then last year when Leah was looking ahead at a year of maternity leave, she decided to take the plunge. She initially approached Victoria to work with her on styling the campaign imagery to launch the business, which stirred some deeper conversations about the business and ultimately the agreement to dive in together.
L&V – We see the Monument brand as a curator, a blank slate for storytelling and our aesthetic is very eclectic.
L&V – We’re really inspired by materials that have longevity and a sense of gravitas – materials such as marble, hardwoods and cast iron. Materials that age well, and are worn smooth with years of use. We love the idea that an object has a life, not just a moment inspired by a trend. It’s been on a journey before someone purchases the piece via Monument and it’ll have a life, long after.
L&V – This is a great question. There are so many pieces that we fall in love with – we laugh about this a lot as we pine for some of the pieces that we’ve sold.
L – For me one of the stand-out pieces was a hand carved green marble bowl. The carved form was imperfect, but the stone was incredible and even though it was small, it really was a superb piece.
V – For me it is the almost unassuming Geoffrey Harris Portland stone sculptures. The fact that Geoffrey Harris was Henry Moore’s assistant for a time is incredibly special.
L&V – Shortly after Monument first launched, the art collector and previous owner of the Geoffrey Harris pieces reached out to say hello and congratulate us on commemorating the pieces so well. It was a lovely and reassuring moment in our company’s infancy. We come into contact with some wonderful people thanks to Monument.
L&V – We recently acquired an original 1970s Terrazza sofa by Ubald Klug for De Sede and for us, this really was the holy grail. These are really popular at the moment, however you mostly see very new crisp versions, with very flat coloured leather and they don’t have the same soft undulations that the worn, aged leather has on an original version.
L&V – Well…we do have something in the works, but this is in its very early stages – we’re hoping to launch next year. What we can tell you is that these pieces will encompass the core principles of what we look for when we’re sourcing: form, material and monumental.
L – For me home is deeply personal. I get most excited about spaces that have the personal stamp of the person/people who live there. A collection of artefacts they’ve amassed over time, things that comfort or inspire these people. A ‘nice’ home should be a true reflection of its occupants, not a design statement or an ode to a single aesthetic.
V – Coming from a set background gives me the impetus to be a bit more experimental with my environment. I love a showcase, and without seeming austere, I view my home being more like a gallery glorifying and celebrating the pieces I have collected. But not in a ‘look and don’t touch’ way – more in a way that you can interact with them, and immerse yourself within their presence. Let’s see how that plays out with hopefully future mini people…I might need to re-think my strategy! It’s the dream anyway.
L – Anything that Victoria makes! (She is incredible in the kitchen). But if it’s my turn, I’ll settle for a Polpo go-to – grapes baked in thyme, served on goat cheese toast, drizzled in honey. Or just a big wedge of Morbier!
V – In summer it always starts with an ice cold negroni, and natural wine to follow – aside from that, I don’t really have a ‘go-to’ meal. I adore cooking for friends and mix it up frequently, making sure the menu flows and the flavours from each course complement each other. Last week I served barbequed onglet with a salsa verde, alongside a salad of blackberries, burrata and beetroot. The combo was excellent.
L – Absolutely. I prefer eclectic and useful. It depends on the group, the meal, the occasion, but I’ll always want to find an excuse to roll out my Robert Welch Sea Drift collection.
V – Most definitely. I take great pleasure in using the beautiful, functional objects I collect.
Presentation has always been a priority for me. I have too many special items to name really, but my handmade ceramic plates from Oaxaca (34 pieces brought back to the UK in a carry-on!) Hand-blown glasses from New Zealand glass artist, Luke Jacomb, my special pepper and salt grinders from Martino Gamper and ‘Made by Bill’ respectively, and cutlery sets I am slowly acquiring from Momosan.
L&V – Where do we start? So many creatives inspire us, from the big names, to the lesser-known artists and designers we discover day to day. The big names for us definitely lean towards the innovators/provocateurs of their time, with the likes of Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Kazuhide Takahama, Charlotte Perriand, Lucie Rie, Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Barbara Hepworth…the list goes on.
L – I was always restless and wanting to find myself in the middle of things. London is that for me. It still feels like it represents so much of the world in one city and that still excites me today.
V – Proximity and access to Europe – for travel, it’s design treasures and varied cultural experiences. The opportunities here sit on a larger scale. There is ‘enough to go round’ for multiple success stories across all industries.
L&V – At this stage we’re taking it week by week. The business has grown very quickly within less than a year since we launched. We’re looking for a showroom, exploring collaborations, our own product line and really following our instincts to see where we can go with this – so watch this space!