Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Brown.
Justin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been a working artist for more than 20 years and have always been drawn to found objects and reclaimed materials in my work. For years, I was primarily focused on making assemblages and sculptures but as my work progressed and got larger, moving into furniture design felt like a natural next step. I have always been interested in interior design and found it challenging to find the types of furniture I wanted in my living space — so I started to make them. I enjoy the challenge of taking an old piece and giving it a new function or making a new piece out of existing parts that didn’t start their lives together.
After leaving an unfulfilling career 10 years ago, I took the leap into furniture design full-time first working for and then alongside with, my friend Liz Karney at sticks and bricks. Our collaboration helped push both of our design concepts further and I began imagining what it would be like to go out on my own.
Having my own brick and mortar store has always been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. A lot of my youth was spent foraging in barns and at estate sales with my grandmother, so from a young age, I have had an appreciation of old things and not wanting to see them get tossed in the landfill. Opening ASSEMBLE was the realization of this dream; a place for my work and the objects I’m drawn to share a space and inspire others.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Previous to branching out on my own last year, I spent 6 years sharing space with Liz a little off the beaten path of downtown Northampton. Working together helped balance some of the pressure and allowed us both to hone our skills, try new things and develop a loyal customer base. This helped put the fundamentals in place so I could start dreaming about what would become ASSEMBLE.
As anyone who has tried will tell you, opening a new brick and mortar retail shop comes with numerous challenges but the largest of these is creating a customer experience that’s worth coming in person to shop. ASSEMBLE isn’t a traditional store — part gallery, part furniture store, part vintage shop — but it faces the same challenges all retail does in the internet age. What sets the store apart is the that I strive to create a nostalgic and inspiring experience for our customers each and every time they come to visit, which is something they certainly can’t get online.
ASSEMBLE made + curated by Justin Brown – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
ASSEMBLE: made and curated by Justin Brown is a gathering of people and objects; a shopping experience where furniture, art and materials inspire, provoke imagination and provide unique design solutions for the home. ASSEMBLE’s goal is to offer an independent alternative in the furniture, gift and fine art markets, one where art and functionality meet. I hope to create a space to inspire customers to enhance their own spaces with a curated mix of custom, repurposed, locally handmade and vintage design solutions.
While my furniture and sculptures are the foundation of the store, I also feature a roster of over 25 local artists and makers. In addition to showcasing my own work, one of the main goals of ASSEMBLE is to provide a platform for artists working independently in the Pioneer Valley and New England to show their work. Whether it is fine art, jewelry, pottery or other three-dimensional work, ASSEMBLE is an alternative to a traditional gallery setting, sharing work in a more relaxed environment that I hope will help customers envision how they can add something truly original to their living spaces.
ASSEMBLE is located in Thornes Marketplace in the heart of downtown Northampton. Built in the late 1800’s and once an old school department store, Thornes houses 4 floors of locally owned businesses, restaurants and offices. With it’s pressed tin ceilings, hardwood floors, grand staircases, and a host of period details that give this contemporary shopping center an old world charm, ASSEMBLE is right at home.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, success is defined in doing the creative work you are driven to do. Since, I use so many found items in my work, I am inspired by the pieces themselves and the history they hold and can then bring to a new piece. I believe that being surrounded by beautiful and inspiring things in your home truly can enhance your day to day and I hope my work offers that to my customers.
- Found items to fine art and furniture $1 to $1200.
- Address: Thornes Marketplace
150 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060
- Website: www.assemblenorthampton.com
- Phone: 413-570-4932
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/assemblenorthampton/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/assemblenorthampton/
Sandra Costello Photography, Samuel Masinter, Laura Mason Photography