Aotea Flagship

Photography by Jono Parker

Good Design (caps intended) has style, substance and sustainability. Style, because aesthetics are important, and we all deserve to have more beauty in our lives. (Plus, when something is pleasing to look at and hold, we also tend to better respect it, take care of it, and be more present for our enjoyment of it, if that makes sense). Next, substance. For something to be well-designed, it should be perfectly fit for purpose. Useful, effective. Life-enhancing in some way. The last part is sustainability. For me, in the context of design, sustainability is a product having longevity, and being made with conscious consideration for people and planet.

Welcome to my TED Talk. But all that to say, that Aotea is one of those New Zealand brands that I feel completely embody Good. Design.

Aotea is a range of therapeutic products inspired by rongoā māori (traditional māori medicine), using native New Zealand flora grown sustainably on Aotea, Great Barrier Island. Ingredients used for hundreds of years and backed today by scientific research – such kawakawa, mānuka, harakeke and kūmarahou – are the hero ingredients in Aotea’s range of small-batch skincare and health products. Their journey began in 2015 at the Parnell Farmer’s Markets with one herbal tonic drink, and Aotea now have over 250 stockists globally. Two Hundred and Fifty! They proactively work to protect Great Barrier’s ecosystem and provide job opportunities for locals, and gift scholarship grants to the island’s māori youth, so they can participate in a high level of schooling (there are no high schools on Great Barrier).

(If you’re interested in learning more about Aotea’s business model and how tikanga māori underpins all they do, or you want to know more about the efficacy and provenance of their products, I can def recommend checking out the Aotea website – it has loads of info.)

OK – so to the reason for today’s post – this beautiful moody space. Aotea recently opened the doors on a flagship retail space at Auckland’s new Commercial Bay precinct. I love how simple they’ve kept this space, and especially the choice of low light – for me this would be a verrrry welcome sensory relief from all the artificial light and noise of the typical ‘mall’ environment.

Like Aotea’s products, the ingredients in this space are simple but substantive – and storied, too. See that centre table? Aotea founder Tama Toki tells me: “The slab is from an old kauri tree that stood on North Hauturu (Little Barrier Island). About twenty years ago it came down in a storm and actually floated into our bay on Aotea called Katherine Bay. My uncle went out in his boat, towed it in and then lifted it out of the water with his tractor. I remember it being quite the scene! From there he cut the tree into slabs and gave them to whānau. This was one of the slabs, and so we decided to restore it for the store.”

You know I have a thing for sinks, and this curvy number gets 10/10 from me. The team were inspired by some of the old communal wash basins they have on their papakāinga. So they wanted to make one similar – but using corrugated iron, because there’s so much of it on the island.

Concept and design by interior architects Wonder Group.

Two hands way up for indigenous international success stories, values-based brands, and Good Design.


Visit the Aotea flagship at Commercial Bay, 7/21 Queen Street

Aotea online storeAotea Instagram


Inside Stories – Homestyle Aug/Sep

The cover home for this issue belongs to NZ artist Anna Church (who now lives in Canada with her family)
Photography by Anna Church and Rebecca Wood

Styling by Juliette Wanty; Photography Wendy Fenwick


Not sure where the last 8 weeks went, but *shrugs* at least we have a new issue of Homestyle to show for it.

The August/September edition is out on shelves and in mailboxes this week, packed to the end pages with beautiful New Zealand homes (eight of them!), modern editorial styling, and the team’s reliable curation of lovely new things that definitely deserve your attention. The cover girl this issue is the *chef kiss* Canada home of New Zealand artist Anna Church (whose new body of work you really need to check out). Put on your comfies, switch the phone to airplane mode and give yourself some self-care in the form of SSR time with the new Homestyle.





If you have a beachfront home, you have to have floor to ceiling windows, and low slung window seats. I don’t make the rules.

(You don’t really see partial walls this tall – I really dig this – normally they’re headboard height.
Love the choice of bedside lighting too, so fine and linear.)

Photography Derek Swalwell

This incredible home by Planned Architects (with interior design by Studio Tom) sits in the sand dunes along Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. See the full house tour (including oceanview pool) here and here.

Materiality masterpiece – love the wide oak floors, that tall timber-framed glass door, the low and deep window seat, and especially…

…this lime-washed, muted masonry wall running down one complete side of the space. The perfect balance of substance and serenity, by London-based Erbar Mattes.

And now, out to the country. Specifically the hills and dales of Berrilee, on the outskirts of Sydney. This modern country farmhouse (dubbed The Ridge, and available for location hire) belongs to Andrew and Vicki Saran – he’s a builder, she’s the founder of a lifestyle concept store Deer Willow. Dream team. (Why didn’t I marry a builder? Poor planning, past Alana)

I love a kitchen layout that doesn’t conform to the norm.

You can see more of The Ridge over at Australia’s Homes to Love

Love a low, trough-style bathroom sink

Really like this simple linen-look textural tile here, too.

Bedroom in the same apartment – this opens out onto the living room, thanks to those dreamy, white-steel-framed, glass accordion doors.

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Photography Felix Forest

How the other half live, right? These incredible bathrooms belong to various Sydney homes by design duo Tania Handelsmann and Gillian Khaw. As Handelsmann and Khaw (now that’s couple of surnames just made for eponymity) Tania and Gillian’s spaces share a signature grace and stature, but also have a sense of spontaneity and fun about them. You’ll see just what I mean if you go and explore their portfolio, here.

When it comes to sinks and faucets, I really dig the unexpected – like this kitchen situation, via architects Contekst

More unexpected sinks from Contekst – I adore this monolithic-looking kitchen island, the extra-thick concrete top, the style of those hobs, the unexpected positioning of the sink, all that concealed storage…

With the fridge and other appliances all hidden away on the left there, and that huge stone fireplace, this reads more like a dining room than a hard-working kitchen

And space down this end to sit

Details, friends. Details.
The master bathroom from this same house.

Told you I love an unexpected faucet (and in this case mixer) situation

Please don’t do your new bathroom in these tiles, because I’m reserving them for my next house.

Photography by Shannon McGrath

Bagsy. Beautiful bathrooms by Studio Griffiths. See the full home tour over at The Local Project


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