How to make a high-style home? 25 years of New Zealand interior design trends

New Zealand’s love affair with minimalist interiors is fading as we develop our own Aotearoa aesthetic.

The past twenty-five years have seen a major shift in the direction of interior design in New Zealand. The most obvious change from the 1990s to now is that we have developed a recognizable system

Home decor inspiration usually comes through a digital device. Instagram and Pinterest have given us access to every design style imaginable. At the same time, Kiwi slang was beginning to emerge. Architects, designers, and artists have led the movement that produced our Downunder atmosphere. Instead of looking at the latest trends in London, New York and Paris, they have increasingly turned their eyes inward to our thriving design scene.

This decisive move away from slavishly following outside trends has given rise to an Aotearoa aesthetic that draws much of its inspiration from our laid-back lifestyle and local design talent. It takes the best of local design, combines it with informality and comfort, and adds a strong focus on outdoor living with a touch of vintage and vintage into the mix. Today, it’s less about following the pack and more about creating an interesting mix of styles that reflect this part of the world.

June 2022 - Ali McIntosh's Ponsonby apartment contains layers of art and memorabilia.  Photography: Babis Martens
June 2022 – Ali McIntosh’s Ponsonby apartment contains layers of art and memorabilia. Photography: Babis Martens

Directional decor with an understated look and feel

The focus is on creating spaces that showcase our individual taste and style – the homes are layered, filled with pieces collected over many years, and carefully edited. Old and new furniture is casually combined with contemporary art and a lot of flair. We are no longer drowning in a sea of ​​beige. The entire rooms are painted in jewel tones. We decorate for ourselves, not for the next person to live there. Anything goes. It’s all about finding your own voice, and following your passions rather than trends.

August 2022 - Katie Lockhart collaborated on the interior design of this home on Franklin Road with architect Jack McKinney.  Photography: David Mustaqim
August 2022 – Katie Lockhart collaborated on the interior design of this home on Franklin Road with architect Jack McKinney. Photography: David Mustaqim

Taking New Zealand design to the world

The result is home decor that dares to be different. Not only are we creating our own design direction, we are also exporting New Zealand design to the world. Our global stars include interior designer Katie Lockhart, Hawke’s Bay-based lighting designer David Trowbridge, and wallpaper designer Emma Hayes – all of whom have a strong client base overseas. Other brands that will benefit from increased international interest are Resident, Nodi and Simon James.

2009 - Jane Mantle's apartment in downtown Auckland.  Photography: Jay Coombs
2009 – Jane Mantle’s apartment in downtown Auckland. Photography: Jay Coombs

New ways of living

Our love affair with the blurring of the line between inside and outside has soared to new heights. Almost every architect strives for this seamless connection today – it is a big part of overall design in New Zealand. Our obsession with indoor-outdoor flow has led to a plethora of outdoor furniture that can transform a deck or patio into a thoughtful space that looks as good as any indoor dining or living room. In addition to elevating the outdoor experience with designer furniture and lighting, we’ve embraced the concept of smaller footprint homes. Big houses are no longer better – houses on small sites and multi-storey apartments are now seen as an alternative to the quarter-acre dream. Townhomes and tiny homes are other downsized options, along with stylish downtown apartments like Jane Mantel’s apartment, which was featured in Long live the In 2009.

October 2022 - Viva visits Martin Bashir and Martha Jeffries at their Ian Athfield-designed house in Wellington, built in the 1960s.  Photography: Paul McCready
October 2022 – Viva visits Martin Bashir and Martha Jeffries at their Ian Athfield-designed house in Wellington, built in the 1960s. Photography: Paul McCready

The place where we belong

Just as interior design tastes and styles have evolved in the past 25 years, an increasing number of New Zealanders have become aware of the design value an architect can bring to a project. A group of experienced architects who began their careers over two decades ago are hitting their professional strides, designing poetic structures that respond to light and strike a chord on the global stage. World-renowned architects Nicholas Stevens and Gary Lawson of Stevens Lawson Architects, known for their bespoke, purpose-built residential architecture, were awarded a gold medal in the New Zealand Institute of Architects Awards last year. Richard Naish of RTA Studio and Ken Crosson of Crosson Architects, founded in 1999 and 1987 respectively, both have an impressive body of work behind them and the international and national accolades to match. There is also a new crop of bold and confident young architects, including a few noteworthy women. This generation is creating homes with new design values: compact, well-thought-out residences made of sustainable materials.

October 2020 - The Brake House, a modernist masterpiece in Titirangi designed by Ron Sang in 1976. Photography / Simon Devitt
October 2020 – The Brake House, a modernist masterpiece in Titirangi designed by Ron Sang in 1976. Photography / Simon Devitt

Mid-Century Modern Movement

Another big trend that has captured New Zealand’s attention and found its way into our homes over the years is modernism. Modernism, which was hugely popular in the United States and Europe from approximately 1945 to 1969, marked a turning point in the way New Zealanders lived. It presented a vision of the future, a new, informal way of living in elegant, light-filled open plan homes. Local architects have adopted this international style, producing a range of modern residences that are highly desirable today. There is also a strong demand for mid-century furniture and unusual items from this vintage style. Dealers bring in stunning pieces from all over the world, including the United States, and New Zealand’s own contemporary design stones are also sought after by collectors.

2021 - The Skinny House at Waiheke designed by Jane Aimer of Scarlet Architects.
2021 – The Skinny House at Waiheke designed by Jane Aimer of Scarlet Architects.

The evolutionary design journey

Like all good things, creating a unique home takes time. This does not happen overnight, or in a week or even a year. It takes a lifetime. It’s about enjoying the journey because the home is endlessly evolving. It’s a constant work in progress, just like you.

Houses from the archive

Over the years, Viva has been invited to visit some beautiful homes – and these are the tours we love to remember.

It’s FIFA’s 25th birthday! This week we celebrate with a powerful survey of the past two and a half decades, from assessing the dining spots that defined the era, to taking a look at the most memorable — and underrated — fashion shots and highlighting beauty trends from the archives. , And Explore what we cooked and why we cooked it.

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