23.07.2018

Kowtow Flagship


Photography by Simon Wilson 

 

New Zealand label Kowtow was born in 2007 from desire to create ethical clothing and a fashion-forward, global-thinking brand. 11 years on, and having deservedly built an international following, Kowtow has opened their very first store – a flagship space in their hometown of Wellington.

Designed by Auckland-based, internationally-in-demand Rufus Knight, who worked in collaboration with young Wellington practise Makers of Architecture to complete the space.

Japanese architecture and joinery inspired the aesthetic, most clearly referenced in those beautiful slatted timber panels that divide the space and provide shelving and display.

Sustainability and traceability is core to everything Kowtow do, so it makes sense that the brand’s founder and Creative Director Gosia Piatek would execute these same values in the design of the flagship… They’ve used New Zealand grown and milled sustainable timber throughout; the countertops are tiled with ceramic tiles handmade by New Zealand’s Gidon Bing; the floor rugs are made from recycled synthetics (including salvaged fishing nets); the modular sofa by New Zealand designer Simon James is upholstered with renewable and compostable fibres; the beautifully thick linen drapes are made using sustainable materials and production methods; and those massive paper lights (Hotaru Buoy pendants) – they’re produced by a Japanese family that’s been handing down the traditional craft of paper lanterns since 1891.

OK I have a job for you to do – scroll back up and and have another, closer look at all those photographs. Really see each image. The balance of soft and structural is so well done, don’t you think? Those concrete floors and big concrete pillars, against the delicacy of the folded paper lights and the individually handmade ceramic tiles. The structure and lightness of all those vertical timber slats, next to the thick linen drapes, hanging heavy in loose folds. Ugh. So good.

The space mirrors not only the Kowtow values but the aesthetic of their garments in many ways – strong silhouettes, soft minimalism, and complete attention to every. last. detail.

14.06.2018

The Virtue


The Virtue – interiors/homeware store

Fine Art Photographic Prints from Brooke & Gina’s travels

Brooke & Gina’s travel photographs on beautiful silk scarves

The Virtue Bride – a dedicated space in The Virtue for wedding planning
– photography, gowns, lingerie, floristry and event styling, all in the one place

This gown rack was inspired by the 1950’s fretwork of the streets of Cienfuego (gowns – Ritual by Brooke Tyson)

 

Is this not the most delicious creative space you’ve seen in a very long time? I know.
Welcome to The Virtue, an Interiors & Bridal concept store, created by Brooke Lean and Gina Fabish.

Professional photographers for over 10 years, the two started shooting weddings together around 6 years ago, finding in each other a kindred spirit with a similar photographic sensibility and the same eye for glorious things. Collaborating has allowed them to push the envelope creatively and gain more momentum as a duo than they perhaps could have alone. And with six children between them, they’ve been able to support and cheerlead for each other personally, too. As they watched the NZ wedding industry at large grow, so too did their desire to evolve their own business – to create a platform that would encompass all their passions – weddings and photography, interiors and travel, and the sisterhood of other women in business.

The Virtue was born.

The Virtue is destination store and working photographic studio, where Brooke and Gina create and sell their photography (as stunning framed prints, and now also a line of silk scarves) and a range of unique globally-sourced interior and bridal pieces – both new and vintage.

The space is situated in a beautiful old building on New Plymouth’s main street, with views of the Huatoki river and the ocean beyond. The look is a marriage of old world charm and modern design. The bones – beautiful wooden floorboards, a dramatically-high stud with rustic exposed beams – have been lovingly restored, and they sit in contrast to elements like custom neon signs (my fave is the one that just says ‘Gloriousness‘) and a solid brass counter designed in collab with Anika Rowson of Rowson Kitchens.

As well as being a retail store, it’s a place for Brooke and Gina’s clients to come and be inspired and surrounded by all things beautiful – with a full bridal styling service including wedding gowns by Brooke Tyson, lingerie by Lonely, floristry, photography and bespoke scent and candle creation. Petal & Prickle, by well-known floral stylist Sofie Park, has recently opened in the same building, just across the landing from The Virtue.

The Virtue is an inspiring, category-redefining business. I hope I’ve done this space justice in describing it.

Visit The Virtue at 12 Devon Street West (up the stairs), New Plymouth, New Zealand.

The Virtue online store   /  Instagram

04.05.2018

Sure to Rise


It’s unlikely you’d just stumble across this spot in Wellington – you’d have to be told by someone to go there. They’ll say: go right down Left Bank Lane (no, not far enough, keep going… right down to the somewhat derelict end of the arcade) and look for the big orange S.  You’ve just struck gold. This is Starta Bread Kitchen – a beautifully-designed space, serving truly world-class breads and pastries.

Starta is the fresh-out-the-oven (refusing to say kitchen, because #RKelly) business baby of Catherine Adams, a Wellington-trained pastry chef who perfected her art in Sydney’s best restaurants, before returning home a few short years ago to start Wellington Sourdough. She supplies her bread (including her classic sourdough which has just three ingredients – local Wellington flour, Marlborough rock salt, and water from an artisanal spring in Petone) to Welly city’s best cafes and eateries. This year, she opened the doors to Starta – out back, the premises of Wellington Sourdough’s commercial kitchen and, out front, the most stunning little bread shop and bakery.

The fit-out is courtesy of the young design team at Proffer. The star of the space is the hopper room, featuring 8 massive grain holders that were sourced from Turkey (see pics above). Polished concrete floors and rough, raw concrete walls celebrate the traditional and industrial, while walls clad in fine vertical panels of American Cedar bring warmth and texture. The dimly-lit space has a sophistication you would never guess from your walk down that laneway – Spanish floor tiles and a white marble counter are just a couple of the elegant accents. When you eat Wellington Sourdough, you’re enjoying something that’s completely traditional and also leading-edge, and I think this interior champions both concepts beautifully.

While most of us are still asleep, Catherine is putting out the daily bread (and pastries)

The grain hopper wall – the hero of this stunning interior fit-out 

Spanish floor tiles alongside original industrial flooring

 American Cedar details mirror the circles and half circles that are a hallmark
of Wellington Sourdough’s brand identity

 

Imagery by Wellington freelance photographer Meg Wyper,
who actually sent me some Wellington Sourdough on an overnight courier. True friend.

 
 

25.10.2017

Meet Pepa


Within the historic Christchurch Arts Centre…

Inside a room in the Gothic Revival Boys’ High Building (built in 1881)…

Behind this door (This door though! Beautiful!)…

You’ll find the best little stationery boutique you ever did see.
This is Pepa.

Product styling by Bonny Beattie

Ami Muir, Pepa founder and amazing person.

Photography all by Bonny Beattie, with thanks

SO excited about today’s feature! Allow me to introduce Pepa – an all-things-stationery store that’s just opened in Christchurch. Pepa is the boutique baby of Ami Muir (you might know Ami from her Great NZ Wrapping Paper book we’ve featured before) – 35 year old mum, ex-advertising agency career woman, and lifetime stationery addict. (We’re sisters from another mister, Ami.)

Through Pepa (Maori for paper), Ami is bringing some of the world’s best, cult-classic and contemporary brands to New Zealand. And what’s more, these are brands you can’t get anywhere else in New Zealand. As an unashamed papyrophiliac (it’s been 3 days since my last stationery purchase), I gotta say Ami’s curation is off-the-charts good. I added over 20 things to my Cart. Husbo, please get my Christmas gift from Pepa. Ami also promises that Pepa will be an evolving mix of cool new stuff – the world of stationery is constantly moving with aesthetic trends, and Ami has more ideas than she has store space.

Let’s hear a little from Ami, in her own words: “I’ve always had a really unhealthy love for stationery and all things paper, that coupled with my love for old fashioned pen and paper culminated in a need to open something I had always searched for in NZ, a stationery store.” The underlying values of Pepa are even more personal than this for Ami: “As a child I used to love checking the mailbox every single day, and luckily for me there would often be a letter from one of my two nanas. I know how much receiving an unexpected letter can change someone’s day, and if I can be a little bit responsible for making people smile as they open the mailbox I will be a very happy person. I also worry that the digital age is completely overcoming us, and the kids of today are missing out on the little things – like writing or receiving a letter.”

While having her very own little stationery shoppe had long been a dream, it wasn’t until Ami spotted this space – the perfect mix of nostalgia and modernity – that she knew she had to do whatever it took to make her dream happen. Pepa is located in one room within the Boy’s High building, part of the historic Christchurch Arts Centre (a collection of Category 1 heritage buildings). The Christchurch Arts Centre is progressively re-opening after extensive post-earthquake restoration, and the Boy’s High building started welcoming new businesses a couple of months ago. Side note: I really need to get myself down to Christchurch for a weekend – so many exciting new openings there recently.

Pepa’s brand (aesthetically a nod to famous English poster artist Tom Eckersley, and illustrators of his kind like Anna Kovacses) was designed by Rikki Burns, and Ami’s also collaborated with one of my fave NZ creatives, Bonny Beattie, for interior styling of the store, product styling and photography.

Get yo’ stapler-appreciating friends and make a day of it, or if you’re too far from the garden city, Pepa has a full, super-good-looking online store.

 

Pepa Stationery

Boys’ High building, The Arts Centre, 28 Worcester Blvd, Christchurch.
Open 10-5, seven days a week

Pepa online store   /   Pepa instagram   /   Pepa Facebook

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