DESIGN BITES – FEBRUARY

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Take a ‘mini’ break, colourful lessons from an African hut and design champions unite

What we found helpful: 

Looking into the world of tiny houses is like disappearing down a rabbit hole – and finding Alice’s Wonderland. For a movement devoted to small, it’s HUGE. At Box™, we’ve always advocated building for quality rather than quantity, with good design being the crucial factor that can make tighter footprints work. A smaller house is cheaper to build and to run. Last year, we noticed an upswing in clients wanting a minor dwelling out the back of the section. So here’s an idea: we think, in terms of research, it pays to get some first-hand experience of living small. That’s where the tiny house community come in. A Google search is all it takes to unearth a host of mini breaks – in a mini home. This summer why not explore your own backyard by booking into one of the many bijoux getaways throughout the country? It’s a fun way to learn a lot about what works in a small-space environment and what’s important to you. One not a million miles from Auckland, but a stratosphere away from the rat race is The Treehouse – a Raglan based tiny house on stilts with a view of the ocean. Check it out here: tinyhouseescapes.co.nz/raglan-treehouse-in-the-woods/

What Inspired Us:

On the subject of living smaller, we were fascinated by a competition held in Zimbabwe in which the women of the Matapos District [a world heritage site near Bulawayo] decorate their huts for the chance to win the top prize of…wait for it…a plough! The My Beautiful Home competition was set up in 2014 to preserve and encourage this practice which is passed down from mother to daughter and it’s a real feel-good event where water-tanks, wheelbarrows and solar panels are also favoured prizes.

The entrants use only natural pigments such as ash, coil and soil to create their designs and no paintbrushes, simply their hands. In a supreme example of art meets architecture, the intricate and exquisite abstract patterns, figurines and animals are applied to the curved walls of the traditional round huts. Inside, they decorate too, often weaving in colourful dinner-sets displayed in ‘racks’ built into the mud walls or hand-forming sunken hearths. To see the love and effort these women put into these humble abodes – and the obvious pride and joy they get out of them – is to appreciate a different way of living and of life. Take a look at some of the designs:

facebook.com/MyBeautifulHut/photos/pcb.1627006810813112/1627009467479513

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

One for the Diary: 

If you’ve never been along to Semi Permanent we urge you, next time around, to give the annual event a go. This festival of creativity, while aimed at professionals in the design arena, delivers an energy-burst of inspiration every time. Usually there’s an international line-up of talent but in 2020 the pandemic meant speakers at the November event were all New Zealand based. They were no less impressive. They ranged from pop-art pioneer and icon Billy Apple (who was interviewed on a red and green apple-shaded desk about his life and work), to artist Lisa Reihana (whose video project for shoe designer Christian Louboutin is a fantastical journey shot in Parisian palaces and gardens and featuring, of course, the red-soled shoes) to fashion designer Kate Sylvester who credits her husband as the true creative force behind the business. The indefatigable Mike Jensen, GM of Industrial Design at Fisher & Paykel, gave an impassioned presentation on the macro and micro picture of designing the appliances we have come to know in our homes and Jamie McClellan, creator of Allbirds merino shoes delved into the fabric of sustainability. A subversive and intriguing performance by Neil Ieremia’s Black Grace contemporary dance company documented the voices inside Donald Trump’s head. Sheer genius.

Sign up at semipermanent.com so you don’t miss out on the 2021 experience.
If you’ve never been along to Semi Permanent we urge you, next time around, to give the annual event a go. This festival of creativity, while aimed at professionals in the design arena, delivers an energy-burst of inspiration every time. Usually there’s an international line-up of talent but in 2020 the pandemic meant speakers at the November event were all New Zealand based. They were no less impressive. They ranged from pop-art pioneer and icon Billy Apple (who was interviewed on a red and green apple-shaded desk about his life and work), to artist Lisa Reihana (whose video project for shoe designer Christian Louboutin is a fantastical journey shot in Parisian palaces and gardens and featuring, of course, the red-soled shoes) to fashion designer Kate Sylvester who credits her husband as the true creative force behind the business. The indefatigable Mike Jensen, GM of Industrial Design at Fisher & Paykel, gave an impassioned presentation on the macro and micro picture of designing the appliances we have come to know in our homes and Jamie McClellan, creator of Allbirds merino shoes delved into the fabric of sustainability. A subversive and intriguing performance by Neil Ieremia’s Black Grace contemporary dance company documented the voices inside Donald Trump’s head. Sheer genius. Sign up at semipermanent.com so you don’t miss out on the 2021 experience.