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Jaci Foti-Lowe is making room for fresh ideas

Jaci Foti-Lowe has created a highly personal project with ‘The Front Room’, a gallery, creative studio and design store underpinned by 20 years of observation, curation and her experience within the global art and design community.

Jaci Foti-Lowe is making room for fresh ideas

At The Front Room, it’s all about exhibitions – and, more specifically, exhibiting thought outside of the box. The space opened at the very end of 2022 with Melbourne’s very own Anchor: VAS, a start which already had a community of engaged design and art lovers paying attention. 

As a gallery and design store, The Front Room is an intimate experience. It took three years of careful planning with a close consideration of artisanal and sustainable design, while every part of the space has been pieced together by hand. 

Jaci Foti-Lowe has an innate talent for bringing together disparate people with a united vision to create and deliver new experiences. The narrow room carefully displays art, objects, vintage finds and general design, all set up for curious minds to lose themselves in there.

Approaching the 50 square metre space, you’re greeted at the door by a suspended, hand-carved stone basin, placed symbolically to encourage visitors to leave behind the pace and stress of the outside world and allowing total immersion into the world of The Front Room. Great attention has been paid to the choice of materials in the interiors – hand-applied Japanese washi paper walls abut raw concrete and stone aggregate floors with the aim of creating a calming and textural canvas.

Related: ANZ’s workplace gallery by Foolscap Studio

“When someone takes the time to come to us, that deliberate choice that they make, I respect it greatly. My space is my vehicle for making their time count,” says Foti-Lowe. “I am compelled to pay attention to the little things so each visit offers something unexpected. If we aren’t creating memories, we are missing the gift that a life lived face to face can bring.”

Exhibitions will change regularly, bringing artists, makers and brands from Australia and around the world to a local audience. A stockroom, meanwhile, provides opportunities for collectors to acquire one-off and limited edition works. 

Foti-Lowe’s ambition at The Front Room is to provide an ever-evolving curation of vintage and found objects collected by her over many years, as well as commissioned works from local creatives such as John Wardle, Simon Lloyd, Skeehan Studio and Luke Doyle. Confirmed brands so far include Astep, Arno Declercq, Bocci, Casegoods, Catellani & Smith, David Mellor, Loom Towels, Lowe, Modern Shapes Editions, Objekto, Serax, SKLO, TossB and When Objects Work, with more to be announced throughout the year. 

The Front Room is located on a quiet side street in Richmond and is set within the recently completed Industry Lanes building. The move came after a process of reflection for Foti-Lowe: “For many years, I had been questioning how design retail might look at the junction between art, limited editions, design products and found objects. It crystallised for me early in 2020 when we were being pummelled by the pandemic – that the traditional model of retail that I had created for myself may not fit the bill anymore.”

“This sort of shift demands confidence and conviction, and I was going to have to dig deep to pull off something remarkable. I had to force myself to relinquish and make peace with letting go of what I knew to make room for fresh ideas,” Foti-Lowe explains further. The result certainly achieves that – a Front Room for fresh ideas.

The Front Room

Jess Brohier

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