On The Local Gentlemen Behind The Online Design Trove Of Craigsbest

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by Ken Tsui | Craigsbest truly began in 2014, back when Patrick Campbell and RJ Hunt first became friends. They were both collectors at heart, sharing the thrill of the hunt for high design furniture on Craigslist. For a year, Campbell and Hunt volleyed links of loved designer pieces back and forth, and as their apartments started to fill, the links overflowed through to friends. This devoted searching and sharing snowballed into what is now Craigsbest, a digital trove that curates the finest of what Craigslist has to offer.

Businesses have taken notice of the duo’s sharp design sense, too, and they’ve recently wrapped up their first interior design job with Tantalus Labs. As Craigsbest grows, Patrick and RJ aspire to evolve the community service into sourcing and picking furniture for clients seeking something a little more inspired for their interiors. I recently had a chance to sit down with the duo to talk negotiations, collector’s boasts, and bringing accessibility to design in Vancouver…

What are three things about your neighbourhood to make you want to live there? Patrick: I live in Mount Pleasant because it’s quiet and family-oriented. It’s easy to get around to all parts of the city, and there are great local places like The Federal Store and Le Marché St. George. RJ: Favourite things about South Granville or “SoGra”, is the fact that people are trying to call it SoGra. I also love the happy hour at the Ouisi Bistro, buying cheap salmon heads from Seafood City in the Granville Island Market, and checking out the unique lobbies of old buildings in the hood.

What’s your favourite place to meet to talk? Patrick: The Boxcar for sure (below left). RJ: Yeah, that’s definitely a staple. Also, Royal Dinette for a nice glass of wine (below right). Patrick: We’ve never been together, but we would potentially meet at The Marquis, too.

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What’s the cocktail of choice? Patrick: A Negroni. Wait, that’s too standard…I’m going to say a Hemingway Daiquiri. RJ: White rum and coke, no lime.

If Craigsbest had a soundtrack, what would it be? RJ: If there’s one song that defines Craigsbest it’s “Pop Music” by Gucci Mane.

What was the piece of design that started it all? Patrick: An Eames chair I bought off Craigslist in Bellingham over a decade ago. RJ: I’m from Alberta where the picking and collecting culture is definitely more kitsch. But the first piece I found was on Kijiji while I was living in Calgary. It was a beautiful, authentic Roy Lichtenstein print I found for $40.

What’s your favourite Craigslist find? RJ: There were two Mies Van der Rohe chairs that came up, and Patrick and I jumped on it as soon as we saw them. They never come up as pairs. So, I went out to West Vancouver to negotiate the price of the set. I’ve worked in sales in the oil and gas industry for six years and this was by far the toughest negotiation I had ever been a part of. Patrick: A one-owner, 1960’s Alvar Aalto dining set I found in Port Townsend, Washington. Also, an authentic Marcel Breuer Wassily chair made by Gavina. I bought it from a lady who’d listed it under the wrong designer’s name, for one tenth of what it’s actually worth.

The Craigsbest Instagram (@craigsbest) is a big part of keeping people up-to-date, but what’s up with the funny captions? RJ: Despite the foundation of Craigsbest being focused on celebrating beautiful modern furniture, we also want to reflect on what it’s like to be a Millennial in Vancouver. We let our comments reflect that. Patrick: A lot of people consider design inaccessible — the captions are our way of not making it so serious.

Combing through Craigslist, you see a lot of replicas. How do you deal with those? RJ: A really important part of Craigsbest is that we don’t post anything that has an inkling of being inauthentic. Patrick: We want to honour the tradition of design and give the original creator the respect and legacy that they deserve. RJ: We both started Craigsbest out of a love for collecting and being able to buy beautiful objects for prices we can actually afford. The thrill of the hunt isn’t in finding fakes.

If you could furnish any room in the city, which one would it be? Patrick: Mayor Gregor Robertson’s office. *Everyone laughs* RJ: I would love to furnish the revolving restaurant at the top of the Harbour Centre Tower because I don’t think there ever has been a cool revolving restaurant in the history of the world.

If everyone could have one good piece of furniture, what would you recommend? Patrick: Everyone should have a good couch. For me, it’s the first thing I go to after a hard day’s work. Ok, I know I don’t work that hard, but when I get home it’s the first thing I go to. RJ: A beautiful chair in a room is a functional piece of art that doesn’t take up much space.

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