Poppy Lissiman’s Sydney Apartment Is a Vintage Lover’s Dream
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the bright Queens Park home of eyewear and accessories designer Poppy Lissiman.
If the stars hadn’t aligned perfectly, maybe Poppy Lissiman wouldn’t have found her current home.
The accessories designer—her eponymous label behind all those tiny little sunglasses beloved by the Jenners and Hadids alike—was in a mad scramble to find a new place to live after moving back to Sydney from Mexico two years ago. Poppy and her husband had something lined up, but it fell through suddenly.
The home the couple currently live in wasn’t on their radar: the decor was “hideous”—turquoise walls!—and Queens Park wasn’t where the pair were considering to make home. But then Lissiman went for a viewing and there they were: wide, expansive windows looking out over the treetops and a wrap-around balcony that trapped the afternoon sun. “As soon as I saw all the greenery… I knew it was perfect for us.”
Lissiman’s designs are bold and maximalist, all bold-hued resin and glittery clutch bags. Soon, she’ll be adding a new collaboration with Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj to her offering, as well as a long-awaited and much-anticipated jewellery line. Her home is just a little more pared back. The walls are white, the furniture rich, honey-coloured wood and rattan, and the tables are terrazzo, which she designed herself. Colourful-covered books and ceramics crowd every surface and house plants are stacked in every corner. It’s a vintage lover’s paradise, a showcase of second-hand finds and auction house hauls, all of which were purchased expressly to be in this new home.
“When we first moved in I actually sold all our previous furniture,” Lissiman says. Her favourite new piece is an antique rattan headboard—“I get so many comments on it,” she says of the find, which came from trawling Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. “It’s an ever-evolving process—and I’m always on the hunt for the next treasure.”
Hi Poppy! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make accessories specifically bags and sunglasses however I do also enjoy designing any number of things such as clothing and the odd bit of furniture.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
Being creative is a huge part of who I am. It brings me a tremendous amount of joy and fulfilment and ultimately puts food on the table and roof over my head.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
Initially, I didn’t think there was much of a creative career for me, I first saw that as a side pursuit, I wanted to be a doctor when I finished school but failed the entrance exam. While I was at uni I started working in retail and immediately fell in love with it, I loved sales, customer service and going to a job where I was surrounded by people who were just as obsessed with fashion as I was. I decided I wanted to have my own retail store – I was only 19 at the time so without the funds or enough experience I started a womenswear label as what I thought would be a stepping stone to having a shop.
Fast forward three years to 2011 and I finally opened my first store in WA which was a massive learning curve. Ultimately it reached a point where I had to choose between focussing 100% on the store or my label and my label was experiencing more success – especially globally. About five years ago I switched from clothing to accessories and went solely online – was one of the best decisions to date.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I sketch quite a lot and never go far without a sketchbook. If I can quickly scribble some ideas and notes then later I will rework the sketches into something a little more technical then transfer that design into Photoshop which will then be submitted to my factories and converted to a CAD.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Management, whether its financial management or time management.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Probably when both of my parents stepped into the business a few years in to alleviate the stress I was under by doing everything by myself. As soon as I had more time to focus on being creative and not falling to pieces doing BAS statements and chasing invoices allowed me to take the brand to the next level.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?
Do a small business or basic accounting course first.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
It was initially a rush job finding this apartment. My husband and I were living in Mexico for several months and the house we were meant to move back into fell through so we needed to find a new place, stat. This place wasn’t in the area I had been looking but as soon as I saw all the greenery and multiple windows looking out into the trees I knew it was perfect for us.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
Apparently, the apartment had been advertised for some time with no interest but the photos online didn’t do it justice at all – all the walls were painted a hideous turquoise, after a lick of paint it was a million times better.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
The space isn’t very big so I wanted to utilise the openness of having the kitchen, living, and dining all in one area in a way that’s comfortable but not crammed. I collect a lot of books and curious bits and pieces which are dotted about the home.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
My terrazzo coffee table I designed and my forward-facing bookshelf.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
Oh god, I could go on forever about pieces I want to add. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space so it’s a one-in, one-out policy at the moment. I’m considering replacing the glass tabletop of our dining table with a custom marble piece but I’m still debating about the shape and colour.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Probably the bedroom. Half of the room is all windows with a wrap-around balcony and it’s completely surrounded by treetops. We have a family of possums who come visit every other night and we have names of each of them!
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Having pieces which you genuinely love and are truly considered. Rather than reverting to going to IKEA or getting something everyone else has I suggest getting inspiration whether it's from Instagram or magazines (Architectural Digest Spain is my favourite) and then looking for pieces you like then searching locally for secondhand/similar – that’s how I found my rattan headboard. I saw a similar India Madavi piece which was obviously insanely expensive but then started searching from rattan pieces on Gumtree, Facebook marketplace and in auctions. It didn’t take me long to turn up some gems, including my antique headboard which was an absolute bargain.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I have an eyewear collection coming out later this year in collaboration with artist Hassan Hajjaj whose work I have been obsessed with for many years. It’s a dream come true to be honest. I’m also in the really early stages of getting a jewellery collection started which I have been aiming towards for some time.
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