Imagine if your next decor score came with a built-in backstory, a new friend, and zero cost to you financially. That’s the thinking behind Swap & Gather, a just-launched homeware exchange from London creatives Cate St Hill and Laura Gheorghita. It all started one rainy evening at an event about wellness and interiors; the two connected over a shared idea to create something that got people talking about the emotional value behind the objects we choose to surround ourselves with. The goal: To create an international community that puts conscious decorating at the forefront. And it’s all starting this week on Instagram.
The initiative was set to launch in the form of in-person get-togethers months ago—then, the world went into lockdown, and with “gathering” being a core component of Swap & Gather, St Hill and Gheorghita changed tactics. To kick it off, they’re rolling out a hashtag challenge, asking people to share the story behind their most-cherished home items on Instagram, using #swapandgatherstories to find like-minded people.
Over the next few weeks, they’ll expand this to a virtual swap: an international exchange where people from 20 not-yet-decided cities can meet (socially distanced, of course) to trade design pieces. Eventually, Swap & Gather will be an IRL series of events, focusing on bringing small groups of people together over the inherent sentimentality of decor.
“Swapping for us isn’t about throwing things away without thought, or seeing our belongings as junk,” explains the duo. “It’s about creating room for the objects that connect with us on a deeper level and talk to our unique story.” There’s a sustainable aspect to their approach—it encourages a circular economy and mindful consumption—but it’s also personal. St Hill is an avid collector of Persephone books, an assortment of dove grey-covered novels from a small publishing house that reprints work from mostly 20th century women writers. For Gheorghita, it’s ceramics: She scours flea markets and vintage shops for handmade crafts.
They’ll be bringing some of these treasures to the first Swap & Gather meets. Tune into Instagram to share what your favorite painting or hand-me-down dinnerware set means to you, and keep an eye out for the first virtual swap. “More often, people forget about the amount of things they own,” say St Hill and Gheorghita. “We hope this will encourage a less is more approach—helping us slow down, reconnect with our surroundings, and seek a more meaningful kinship with our most-loved objects.” And if this means you get a gorgeous new terra cotta vase for your mantel, well, that’s just a fringe benefit.