6 Kiwi Brands Bring New Zealand Style to San Francisco Design Week

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Nestled at the “bottom of the world”, the island nation of New Zealand may not be a priority when it comes to setting design trends. But with its abundance of natural materials, its commitment to sustainability and its indoor-outdoor lifestyle, as well as the cheerfully laid-back attitude of its inhabitants, the country’s signature style directly matches what many Americans expect from their home. today. Kismet, then, that an alliance of six independent Kiwi brands have come together to bring the good vibes and inspiring designs to California. Open primarily to trade and coinciding with San Francisco Design Week, the first-ever New Zealand Design Pavilion will take place from June 21 to July 1 in the famous Ferry Building overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

“This is a groundbreaking situation – the first major design event in the United States to spotlight a different country of origin since the pandemic – and who would have thought that country would be New Zealand?” said Scott Bridgens, co-founder of flagship furniture maker Resident. Other participating companies are the household goods brand Città; the natural carpet manufacturer Nodi; furniture maker Noho, which makes its pieces from reclaimed ocean plastic; sculptural lighting designer David Trubridge; and fourth-generation legacy textile maker James Dunlop, also parent company of the more modern Mokum label. While each brand already has a foothold in the US market, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to present a holistic overview of their homeland.

With an emphasis on natural materials, a commitment to sustainability, and a love of the indoor-outdoor lifestyle, New Zealand style aligns with what Americans expect from their homes today.Courtesy of David Trubridge

“The biggest influence on designers is where we come from,” says Stephanie Moffit, design director of Mokum. “In New Zealand, we can go through four seasons in one day, and these dramatic weather changes have a major impact on our design process.” For Mokum, that could mean performance linen in a range of neutral colors that reflect and resist southern hemisphere sunlight. For Noho, the spirit of the brand’s homeland manifests in the versatile Move chair made from regenerated nylon fishing nets salvaged from the islands’ thousands of miles of shoreline.

The exhibition space itself, spanning 7,500 square feet, is staged to express the essence of New Zealand’s diverse landscapes. Created in collaboration with San Francisco-based agency Additions, it takes visitors on a sensory tour through imaginary coastal, forest and alpine settings. In the cooperative spirit of the event, each of these three fields will incorporate elements of the six featured companies instead of separating them into competing vignettes.

The executives of the six companies will be present at the event, which is organized around festive cocktail parties, by invitation only, intended to present the brands to potential distribution partners. A range of educational talks are scheduled throughout the day. Among other events, Trubridge will discuss sustainability through the metaphor of designing a “lifeboat” for humanity, while Moffitt and James Dunlop Textiles’ design director Annie Moire will discuss Mokum’s latest collection with the Oscar-winning Aussie costume designer Catherine Martin.

From socializing over drinks to negotiating new business deals, all attendees look forward to coming face-to-face with American industry colleagues after such a long period of isolation. “New Zealanders are known to be friendly, relaxed, upbeat – and that’s the culture we want to convey at the lodge,” says Moffitt. Noting how home products have a direct impact on people’s daily lives, she adds, “Design makes life better. Textiles can transform a space. After the trauma we’ve all been through, it’s time to create a new era of joy.

Visit the New Zealand Design Pavilion at Shack15 at the Ferry Building in San Francisco from June 21 to July 1.

Homepage image: Courtesy of New Zealand Design Pavilion

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