ABROAD | Where we chat to New Zealanders living and creating overseas…
First up: Bridie Picot of homeware brand Thing Industries (to be accurate – one half of Thing, with Wellington-based designer Matt Smith) who’s living and working in New York.
Bridie does Thing things from her home in Brooklyn, but she also works from a city shared space
New kids’ wall hooks!
My favourite Thing thing (their banana pillow) in Bridie’s living room.
(Also, I spy a magazine from home)
(Also, I spy a magazine from home)
Birdhouse Bookshelf in Bridie and Harry’s room
The Cabin bathroom caddy
The Shack (I do love an A-frame)
Bridie and Rabbit!
Beast rug in the Shack’s living area
So, where do you live and who do you live with?
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with my fiance Harry and my dog Rabbit. We also have a house upstate New York that we go to every weekend. Up there we have four chickens; Isabella, Elsie, Harlequin and Cinderella (named by my niece, also Isabella, age 3.5).
Where did you grow up in NZ and what did you do here before you left?
I grew up in Auckland before moving to Nelson with my mum when I was 10. I lived there till I finished high school then headed back to the big smoke. My first job was working at Pavement Magazine doing odd jobs, and later at TBWA as an account executive. I moved to New York when I was 21 and started working at Management Artists, (a photo agency), as an assistant producer.
When did you move away from NZ and why?
Hmm, I just always figured I would. My sister had lived in London for a while and I basically wanted to be her, also I had traveled a bit with each of my parents when I was younger so I got a taste for it I guess. One memorable trip was with my mum when I was about 8; we went to New York for her 40th and bought a car for $400 which we drove all the way to San Francisco. It was the middle of summer and had no A/C, and we did the whole journey with just two tapes; Tiffany and Simon & Garfunkel. I guess I just wanted another adventure after moving to Auckland, and New York seemed like a good a place as any.
How good was moving out of NZ for your career?
I’ve never been particularly focused on my career, I’m more interested in working in a nice space with good people. I guess you’re always going to have more opportunities when you go to a bigger place, and I think it makes for a more random career path, which I like but it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea.
What are your fave things about living in New York?
I should say something about the culture here, but to be honest the last time I went to a gallery was in New Zealand at Christmas! I love the characters you see everywhere, the fact that you could walk down the street in your PJs talking to yourself and no one would bat an eyelash.
Are you friends with many other expats?
Yep, but pretty much all my New Zealand friends here are people I’ve met since living here. And everyone is super talented. My friend Stacey Lee just showed her film at TriBeCa Shorts Festival a couple of weeks ago. All of them seem to be doing interesting creative things.
If I’m in your city or neighbourhood – what should I go see/do that isn’t on the typical tourist trail?
Come to Greenpoint, it’s on the G train which gets a bad rep so there aren’t any queues at the restaurants.
Apart from the obvious ones (fam and friends, scenery), What do you miss about NZ?
I miss pies. I miss not having to check for ticks/snakes/porcupine quills when I’m walking around in bare feet.
How do you spend your weekends/down-time?
We head up to the Shack every weekend, even in winter. In summer we go swimming in the river and have the neighbours round for dinner. Actually we do that all year. We see our neighbours a lot.
So, I bought the Shack about 2.5 years ago, before I even had a car. It’s in Narrowsburg, New York and really close to the Delaware River which is great for swimming, with big rocks to jump off. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Manhattan. We recently added the Shed which is a little sleepout with a queen bed, because the Shack is only one bedroom and we’re always bringing friends up, so for them to have their own little space is nice. We’re trying to get the land next door and have plans to build a big barn. We’ll keep the Shack for AirBnB and as an overflow for the Barn. It’d be nice to have a big kitchen/living area with a dining table, because at the moment we eat off our laps on the sofa.
You’ve recently gone full-time with Thing. How does the business work when you’re in NY and Matt’s in NZ?
Well we email a lot. Sketches and quotes and photos of samples are sent back and forth. Our distribution and most of our manufacturers are in the US so I run everything from here. Matt’s been over a couple of times this year for our show at Design Week and before that for some quality planning time by the pool in Palm Springs.
What’s coming up for Thing?
We’re launching a few new products, big things as well as some smaller giftable things. A studio/storefront is on the cards but probably not until next year.