2. Coming back to New Zealand with a fresh eye is always interesting. Would you say there is a ‘New Zealand look’ in terms of design and aesthetics? What do you think are hallmarks of our collective style?
We’re a long way from everywhere and have become very practical and creative as a result. Items and trends from the Northern Hemisphere tend to be cost-prohibitive for most Kiwis and we’ve become very good at moving outside the box to find creative solutions.
I love the use of glass, steel, cedar and concrete that’s popping up, particularly as part of the Christchurch rebuild. It’s quite an industrial look but also very New Zealand in it own way — organic and practical. We’re doing some creative and clever things in architecture.
For interiors, New Zealanders certainly love their neutrals and monochromatic tones. I’m used to a bit more colour after my time in Asia but I do think wintry colours reflect the landscapes here and speak to our alpine environment.
3. How would you describe your design methodology?
It always begins with the client, no matter how loose or detailed the brief. The budget is the next consideration as that gives me a set of rules to work within.
From there I spend time considering the ‘audience’ as I call it. Who’s using the space and what practicalities do I prioritise? For example in hospitality it’s about the number of seats within a space, the numbers moving through it and then thinking about flow and ease of movement. To what degree does it need to be inviting, a place that people want to be? If the space is a rest home I need to choose flooring and fabrics carefully, and specify appropriate seat heights. It’s those sorts of considerations I make in terms of ‘audience’.
The colourful part often begins with one reference point. It might be an artwork, a wallpaper or a colour palette the client loves. I use that as a starting point for selecting complementary finishings. For Little High Eatery I started with some amazing Indonesian doors. They were these heavy, incredible carved doors I found in Java and they informed the rest of the process.