Designer outlet: Carl Morenikeji sources unique items for discerning punters and props buyers

Scaramanga is a Fife furniture supplier that has attracted discerning customers looking for truly one-off pieces for their homes, and the attention of the film industry.

Carl Morenikeji sources unique items for discerning punters and props buyers

And with the company name inspired by a Bond villain, it is perhaps no surprise that its wares feature in 007’s latest outing, No Time to Die.

For customers who want an interior feature as seen on the big screen, Scaramanga has a shop and two warehouses based in the Kingdom as well as an online presence, where you can find a huge range of tables, chairs, curios, accessories and unique items such as a mini bar fashioned from a decommissioned rickshaw.

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Carl Morenikeji started the business 15 years ago after a career in telecommunications. He recalls: “I took two empty suitcases and went back to the places I’d visited in India on a gap year in search of vintage items.”

Carl Morenikeji sources unique items for discerning punters and props buyers

It was a case of Carl finding out which items had a market back home by trial and error, initially starting with leather bags. These were the biggest part of the Scaramanga offering until recently, but since the pandemic the furniture side of the business has really taken off, with fewer people travelling and more spending being lavished on interiors and gardens.

Carl believes the best way of integrating more eye-catching furniture is not to furnish a room top to bottom, but to use key pieces. He advises: “For a true eclectic look you can have a bit of Ikea, some industrial pieces and a few original pieces from us. They can have been made 50 years ago or 200 years ago, but you are unlikely to find anyone with the same item.”

“They are never mass-produced, and while we might have a consignment of chairs or tables from an Indian cinema – so they have all been painted the same colour – the bigger pieces will be absolutely unique.”

Jodhpur is the best place to buy old furniture, says Carl, and Kolkata is where his plants pots and leather goods come from. He adds that the size of India means there is a vast range of styles: “A wooden chest for storing clothes from Goa will be very different from an item that has come from North East India – in the wood that is used, the method, style and the decoration.”

Carl Morenikeji sources unique items for discerning punters and props buyers

A call from a props buyer nine years ago added another string to Carl’s bow. He explains: “She was working on a Tim Burton film and wanted old trunks that would look as if they could have been on a Liverpool dockside in the 1800s. After supplying those, she spread the word about us, so within a year we were asked to send old padlocks to New Zealand for the the Hobbit films.”

For No Time to Die the request was padlocks too, but Carl estimates there are currently 14 films in production using his locks, boxes and furniture. He says: “A few years back, everyone in the office went to see Maleficent 2 at the local cinema because they had taken so much from us. Every time something popped up, we cheered. Props buyers tend to be so specific about what they want, what period it is. If they ask for 1920s, it has to be that –not the 1930s or 1910s.”

Regular customers are also keen to know the back story of each piece, and its use. Carl has sourced low tables with lift-up lids used in markets in India which allow merchants to sit cross legged at them. When they are brought to the UK, they will be used as coffee tables or for display.

He says: “Everything finds its use, and in the few instances I can’t see it, I’ll ask customers online and they will usually come up with something. For instance, jewellers in India will have a sturdy workbench, with small drawers good for storage and they are perfect for craftspeople here .”

“I’m very lucky to have created my perfect job, which involves travelling, searching for unique items, with a focus on reusing and sustainability – and I get to talk to people from all over the world.”