04.04.2019

Abroad: New Zealand Architect Briar Hickling


 


Watch this short video please
(Created by Postcard Productions for Herschel Supply Co.)

 

You look at both the quantity and quality of projects Briar Hickling has worked on… and then you see she’s still just in her 30’s. Barely hitting her stride. Can you imagine her body of work in another decade?

After graduating at Massey, Briar cut her teeth working for one of New Zealand’s leading hospitality designers, Allistar Cox. Then, in 2009, she moved to Shanghai, to a Senior Associate position at Neri & Hu, one of China’s most world-renowned architectural practices. There, she worked on world-class hospitality projects in Asia, Australia and the UK, including restaurants for internationally acclaimed chefs, and hotel projects such as Westin Hotel Xi’an, The Waterhouse in Shanghai, and the Alila in Kuala Lumpur. It was at Neri & Hu she met her work wife. fellow design wunderkind, Alex Mok. After collaborating on a number of big projects together, Briar and Alex founded their own practise, Linehouse.

In Briar’s own words: …I saw China as an opportunity to start my own practice… to create unique spatial concepts with a contextual narrative. In some ways the design process is more open in Asia, the construction process is faster and there is more room for flexibility. If you can harness this somewhat chaotic process, the result can be very rewarding. This is how I have managed to build an extensive portfolio of work which also came down to hard work and initiative. Now based between Hong Kong and New Zealand, the last 10 years have allowed me to establish a network of local craftsman, creating bespoke designs and allowing for an inventive use of materials to create something new and unexpected.”

That was 2014. It’s been a prodigious 5 years, conceiving and realising 30 (Yes, three-zero – in five years!) of the most incredible, storied, exquisitely-detailed environments.

Above is just one of their most recent projects – John Anthony, an East-meets-West Dim Sum eatery on Hong Kong Island. Named after historical figure John Anthony, the first Chinese man to be naturalised as a British citizen in 1805, and the ‘father’ of London’s original Chinatown. Briar and Alex’s design draws on the story of John Anthony’s life, exploring a fusion of colonial architecture with eastern detailing, to create a British Tea Hall turned Chinese Canteen.

Linehouse have employed the materials John Anthony would have encountered on his journey from his homeland to London’s docklands: hand-glazed tiles, natural and racked renders, terracotta, hand-dyed fabrics and handwoven wickers, hammered copper lights. A celebration of sustainability and traditional craft is communicated everywhere you look. The detail is amazing.

The main dining hall, with its vaulted ceiling, is an interpretation of the storehouses of London’s docklands.

The floors are tiled with reclaimed terracotta from old Chinese village houses

The aesthetic plays on the retro nostalgia of East-London Chinese canteens

The private dining rooms are lined in hand-painted tiles, featuring large scale illustrations of commodities traded between the British and Chinese in the 18th century such as medicinal poppies and exotic animals. 

Briar’s very latest project, Tingtai Teahouse, is a series of huge elevated boxes inside a vast old factory. These suspended spaces-within-a-space act as individual private teahouses, all sleek glass, brushed stainless steel and contemporary minimalism, alongside the patina of the original concrete columns and brick walls of the former factory.  See photos of this incredible project here. (Actually, pop the jug on and set aside a half hour to tour all their projects – so inspiring)

It won’t be long before Briar and Alex will stretch those impressive wings to other progressive pockets of the globe. They’ve recently opened an office back on Briar’s home turf – I’m hoping that means there’s a New Zealand project on the way….

15.02.2019

Studio South


A twofer today with a duo of different projects by Auckland design practice Studio South.

Above, branding, stunning print collateral and a show suite for 246 Queen, a new development in CBD Auckland which will see architects Fearon Hay re-design and rejuvenate an iconic Queen Street building into a new high quality city landmark.

And below – I couldn’t not share Studio South’s new digs with you. Designed in collaboration with Rufus Knight, Sam and his team have repurposed an old warehouse in St Mary’s Bay into a versatile new space that includes a full photography studio, presentation room, social spaces and an open-air courtyard.


Photography by Simon Wilson

 

22.01.2019

Salad Days


Photography Saskia Wilson; Styling Alicia Scibberas

 

Before we get started here, can we take a moment to appreciate the name Salad Days for a ceramic brand? Best name! It gives me such happy, nostalgic vibes.

Lucy Coote’s story in ceramics started 6 years ago. She’d studied fashion and business, and then got a ‘real job’ in an office, but found herself needing a creative outlet, so signed up for a pottery night class. She fell in love with it, joined a potter’s association, and after a couple of years spending most of her spare time in the studio, she started selling pieces to friends and family… then to a few stockists… and then through her own online store. By this time, she was working in film production, but nights and weekends weren’t enough to keep up with demand. She had to choose: grow her career in the film industry, or make ceramics full-time? When she asked herself which she couldn’t live without, it ended up being an easy decision.

She left her job and committed to Salad Days, but soon after discovered she was pregnant (with twin girls! – Margaux and Daisy who are now 19 months old). To say Lucy’s not really had oodles of time to focus on her ceramics would be an understatement. The juggle is real. But – thankfully for those of us who want to buy ALL her things – Lucy and husband Mark have just moved home to Wellington. Here at home, they have the family support to allow Lucy to work more flexibly, and they can actually achieve their dream of buying a home – something with a studio, or potential for one. While they house-hunt, Lucy’s working from fellow pottery pal Wundaire’s studio.

(Why do I tell you all this stuff? Because The New’s not just about aesthetically beautiful things. Yeah, yeah, it mainly is, but not just. It’s also about the real people behind these aesthetically beautiful things. And it’s also about pursuing your creative passions, and what it takes to do that.)

Salad Days pieces are timelessly simple and refined. Lucy designs beautiful silhouettes and her own glazes for a contemporary yet classic look, but as she’s creating, she’s thinking about function just as much as form. She imagines what you’ll use your bowl/mug/jug for… what would be the best size and shape for that… what shaped handle would make it feel best. She’s making something to be loved for a lifetime, for all your Salad Days. I’ll take one of everything please.

Salad Days Website

Salad Days Instagram (ceramics and cute bebs!)

 

01.11.2018

Ethics + Aesthetics (Abel Perfumes Giveaway)



When New Zealander Frances Shoemack moved with her husband to Amsterdam in 2011, she left her career as a winemaker behind and embarked on a new olfactory mission – to create the world’s best all-natural perfumes. Together with fellow New Zealander Isaac Sinclair (once behind the counter at Smith & Caughey’s on Queen Street, now one of the youngest master perfumers in the world, and the only recognised master perfumer from the Australasia region), Frances has spent years developing the Abel family of fragrances.

I need to tell you a little more about what makes Abel so special. When you spray that Duty Free perfume on your skin, you’re generally just spraying chemicals onto yourself, scents created in a lab. Abel perfumes are 100% natural. Every note in every Abel fragrance is distilled from a flower or plant.

When designing perfumes with natural isolates, the creative process is much more challenging, because naturals don’t act in a linear way. They’re alive, with a myriad of facets that evolve in the bottle and even more so on the skin. Abel’s Golden Neroli, for example (using real neroli extracted by steam from white orange blossom flowers – very rarely seen in modern perfumery) took Isaac over a thousand trials to perfect. Actually, interesting side story – Frances was pregnant at the time of developing this fragrance, and found she was attracted to neroli in an almost addiction-like way. After launching Golden Neroli, they noticed other pregnant women were drawn to it in a similar way. Turns out, neroli has a long history of use in reducing the symptoms associated with hormonal changes in women.

Did you know that synthetic musk, used in 99% of all perfumes (it’s a fixative and an overall fragrance enhancer) is widely acknowledged as toxic to humans and to the environment? Not. cool. Frances and Isaac have sourced a natural musk alternative, isolated from a seed inside hibiscus flowers. That’s only one of the many ethical choices Abel has made. Another is in their sourcing of sandalwood from sustainable East Indian plantations, which assists in the re-establishment of a sustainable eco-system in sandalwood’s native home. East Indian Sandalwood, like many essential-oil bearing plants, is a threatened species (due to decades of exploitation). The more you know, huh.

I first heard of Abel back in 2013 when Frances launched her first fragrance. Recently, I’ve been searching for a signature scent for myself, found myself seeking out Abel, and noticed the brand had had a complete re-design. I love that it’s world-class but designed by a New Zealander, I love the minimalist contemporary packaging, and I love something that doesn’t compromise on ethics or aesthetics. I was excited to see the Abel collection has now grown to seven fragrances, has been noticed by the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Monocle and Esquire, and has stockists throughout the world (including 15 stockists in New Zealand).

I’ve ordered one for myself, and after chatting with Frances, we’re giving you the chance to win an Abel Fragrance – of your choice.

Each fragrance in the collection is named after a natural note or accord – White Vetiver, Golden Neroli, Red Santal, Cobalt Amber, Grey Labdanum, and the newest fragrance, Green Cedar (< P.S: Click each of those links, and the fragrance notes will open for you in a new page. Or visit the Abel Instagram to see Highlights explaining each scent.)

The Abel philosophy is to find the purest, most exceptional version of that natural ingredient and build it up into a complex but harmonious, distinctive and long-lasting perfume. Described as a living fragrance, they evolve on your skin, working with your body’s own natural chemistry to create a unique scent that will continually evolve throughout the day.

Competition now closed, congrats to Samantha Evans!

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