As the national public design event of the year, Urbis Designday is eagerly anticipated by every design buff worth their salt. As a newbie on the New Zealand design scene, I was bursting with excitement and curiosity over this long awaited event. Finally able to see first hand what the fuss is all about, I was about to be wooed by the creme de la creme of the design industry and left wanting more. Our tour began with the award winning Fisher & Paykel and Alt Group collaboration, The Social Kitchen, situated in The Cloud on Auckland’s waterfront. The gourmet trail began at one end of the 70m long installation manned with the designers behind the technology. Dining on fresh Bluff Oysters, flown in for the occasion, followed by a morsel of beef, which we cooked ourselves, topped with a mushroom and a garlic aioli, we sat down with a glass of wine. Next up was a palate cleansing sorbet made from two gigantic slabs of ice, which reportedly took four hours to solidify, were shaved by hand before our very eyes and topped with a choice of three tantalising flavours. The denouement was melted dark Van H chocolate paired with a liquorice biscuit. The melting of a single square of chocolate showcased the precision of Fisher & Paykel’s new wood veneered induction cooktop. Thank the gods, this was first on our list as I heard the crowds were massive later in the day with disgruntled punters giving up; frustrated with a seemingly endless queue!
I had been looking forward to meeting Rebecca of Douglas & Bec since I had first featured their Workroom products here on Mint Style Studio. Not only did I have the pleasure of meeting Rebecca, but the whole family including her father Douglas, the maker of Rebecca’s designs behind the Workroom brand, her partner Paul with whom she owns the showroom, Douglas & Bec, and even the newest edition to the Snelling family, little baby Eva! I thought this was apt given their business is a family affair. Although the weather had begun to turn by the time we reached Mt Eden, the showroom exterior and courtyard beyond was decked with bright sunshine yellow vinyl framing Workroom’s products behind the windows and yards of bunting. Defying the cloudy and blustery change, the atmosphere was festive and upbeat. The quaint courtyard, reminiscent of a London mews with its mix of surrounding industrial buildings and old churches, comprised of two marquees; one for hospitality including bite-sized decadent brownies and lemon tarts and another for a small selection of wares from the showroom. Opposite, was a striking vivid yellow catwalk where a selection of Workroom lamps stood against a backdrop of images of Rebecca, the designer, and her father, Douglas, the maker, and the results of their partnership; Workroom lamps.
Another highlight of the day was undoubtedly Danish design store BoConcept’s collaboration with New Zealand fashion brand Huffer and New Zealand stylist and interior designer, LeeAnn Yare. As we disembarked from our taxi we were accompanied by the soundtrack of Blondie’s Heart of Glass, a riot of colourful balloons and an irrepressible party vibe. Huffer produced an eye catching art installation entitled “These are the colden days of our life, kid” where varying hues of purple ice made of Absolut Voda, melted and slid down the canvas in watery rivulets to form a unique water colour painting. How awesome is that?! A custom made ‘spin the wheel’ from a recycled bicycle was designed by Huffer whereby guests could participate and win a gorgeous goody bag from Created by LeeAnn Yare, including the most divine scented soap and soy candle from the green house for leeeann yare. I hardily EVER win anything, but it must’ve been my lucky weekend! Thank you LeeAnn!
Around a corner I am confronted by a brilliant cacophonous clash of colour and pattern which is the installation created by celebrated stylist and curator of Collected, LeeAnn Yare’s new shop housed above BoConcept. Given the theme of this year’s Designday is Colour in Motion, this beats all other installations hands down! I’m lucky enough to bump into LeeAnn herself who begins telling me all about this vibrant wallpaper by Australian diva, Florence Broadhurst, “Just wait until (the body painting’s) finished…you’ll be amazed!” she gushes. Upstairs LeeAnn’s signature use of bold colour combos and crazy patterns is reflected in her product range which I can’t help but overhear is admired by many. The place is packed and there’s a throng waiting at the tills. I’ll tell you, it’s damn exciting being amongst the hype of retail therapy and I’m delighted to feel the buzz of successful business, which alas seems a distant memory for this Christchurch lass.
Inspiring, visually titivating, informative, and loads of fun, I look forward to see what’s on offer at Urbis Designday 2013.
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