Timber, stone, earth, glass, metal, leather, innovation, inspiration, sweat, tears and light. The materials in each and every piece from our studio have been carefully selected to encompass our core values of sustainability and conscious design. We look for locally sourced resources, elements that can be infinitely recycled and material that can be reused, repurposed and upcycled to ensure that the footprints we leave with our products are as thoughtful and responsible as possible. We are blessed to work with some of the best makers New Zealand has to offer and celebrate and respect their commitment to their craft and materials.
The weight of rock in your hand brings with it a tactile reminder of the genesis of the pieces in our DANCEOFGEOMETRY Collection. These works are made of Andesite, a rock somewhere between granite and basalt in composition, formed on the flanks of stratovolcanoes and in subduction zones. It’s available in a number of places around the world, but the pieces in our collection are sourced from the Whangarei Heads and handcrafted in a studio adjacent to their source. As huge saws whir around our maker Amie, she urges new work out of the ancient material. In many ways the collection is an oxymoron: solid rock, fluid movement. But the material itself demands the final form. It is strength, it is warmth and the solid, grounded pieces we present, hold both the heft of ancient rock and the grace of contemporary movement. The work and the material work as one dance, one idea.
Rescued River Matai and Rimu
Matai and Rimu are ancient tree giants of the New Zealand bush, Matai rising to a stately 25 meters tall, and Rimu towering up to 50 meters. The timber of both is extremely durable and used in building and furniture, but where the Matai has a golden tone, Rimu has a distinctive red hue, something Māori attributed as the blood of Tunaroa, a giant eel slain by Māui.
Rimu was called red pine by early European colonisers, not a bad description given the wood, gum, sap and bark which falls off in large flakes, all maintain a deep red colour. But when gazed upon at the top of the canopy, the fine, weeping leaves are utterly distinctive from European pine and inspire dreams of times long gone.
Matai has a grey bark, almost hammered in appearance and was used extensively for flooring and weatherboards for many years in New Zealand construction, but the tree is now recognised as an important part of the forest eco system so we at the design studio searched long and hard for a sustainable source of this precious timber. Combined with the fact Rimu is now a protected species and can’t be logged on public land, the potential of using rescued timber was of particular interest to us.
As a result, submerged logs are rescued by our partners and makers Treology, based in the South Island of New Zealand and turned lovingly into works of lasting luxurious design. The journey of this material starts in Southland, deep in the belly of the beautiful West Coast rivers. A GPS location marker is placed under each table so you know where the tree came from.
The earth of Aotearoa is rich with organic materials and minerals. For our EARTH&SKY Collection we wanted the simplicity of pale tones to shine forth and therefore looked to the white clay soils of the North Island to form the substructure of our source material. The smooth, tactile base is constructed by ramming a mixture of selected aggregates, including gravel, sand, silt and the pale clay. A custom formwork is then placed and secured ready for the earth. All desired soil, sourced from Pakeho near Te Kuiti – 38º20’17”S 175º04’22”E, is tested for suitability, mixed with approximately 7-10% cement and then placed and compacted into the formwork in layers of between 150mm and 200mm deep. Using a pneumatic ram, the soil is pounded down to approximately 5/8ths of the loose height of the material. The formwork is removed immediately after compacting to reveal the finished surface of the bases and a beautiful, soft but study product.
Recycling is an essential and useful tool as we look to the future of resource use. But it isn’t always the answer it appears as many materials are only partially recyclable or have a short life time before they, too, end up as waste. Steel is something that is perpetually recyclable without product degradation and is a long-lasting material in the first place. We love the raw industrial edge blackened steel provides to our collections. From the handles in the ReLEATHERED pieces, to the legs of our BLACKTREEFERN tables, this material is expertly hewn by Peter at Metalroom.
Glass too is a resource that is infinitely recyclable if handled correctly. A versatile material, it provides translucent strength to top our tables in the EARTH&SKY Collection, and the delicate fragility of the vase and pendant pieces of our WHITECLOUD Collection. Simple and hand blown, or poured and levelled, glass provides a beautiful, natural feel to our work that we are excited to expand.
Like steel and glass, brass is a durable, honest and elegant material that can be recycled an infinite number of times. Polished, brushed or with an antique finish, this metal holds a warmth and beauty that allows the light to play off its edges, to run down its lines and transport us to valleys where the sun shines no matter the season. It holds a starring role in our FLOW Collection, winding its way through timber to not just approximate, but to bring alive the image of the South Island rivers that are the inspiration for these pieces.
As we focus on the reality that even sustainable resources are not endless, looking to other ways to elongate the life of materials is something very dear to our hearts. The use of used black leather belts provides both a sustainable and eye-catching appearance, but it is the story behind these belts that really sparked the inspiration for the ReLEATHERED Collection. Contemplating the people who wore these belts was fertile ground for design ideas, and collaborating with writer Michele Powles only added more to the beautiful layered story behind each work. The texture of the leather belts and the sustainability of their origin gives a richness and depth to our ReLEATHERED Collection we are very proud of.
Bike Inner Tube tires
The ultimate in upcycling, the feathers from our TUI Collection are make from discarded bike inner tubes. Cleaned and polished, these are hand shaped, cut and stitched to provide incredible movement and life-like form by Ronja from Re:Purpose. It is such an exciting possibility to bring new life and beauty from a material that would otherwise be sent to landfill.
And finally, we look to the future of new material possibilities. A natural, non-woven material made from pineapple leaf fibre, Piñatex can be used as an alternative to leather and petroleum based textiles as we have in our TUI Collection. It was developed by Dr Carmen Hijosa and first presented at the PhD graduate exhibition at the Royal College of Art, London. A truly head to toe sustainable material using entirely waste products, it’s a fantastic substitute for new leather which has a very heavy environmental and welfare impact. Moreover, it brings new income streams to subsistence farmers, allowing them to fully utilise their crops. We are proud to be included in a number of global brands displaying the virtues of this material.
We take great care when considering the materials for our collections and continue to be excited about the possibilities for innovative use and development in the design fabrication space.