Local lifestyle brand and success story Città has been at the forefront of New Zealand homewares for 27 years. With 15 stores in NZ, one in Sydney and several stockists throughout the world, Città’s timeless designs have captured a very loyal following. Having recently opened a new concept store on Morrow Street, Portia Campbell spoke to Città designers Imogen Tunnicliffe and David Moreland.
Imogen: Città is a NZ design brand specialising in furniture and textiles. The designers and buyers collaborate closely to come up with two seasonal collections per year. We aim to give our customers the confidence to create a home that they love and that suits their lifestyle. We add design to objects people use and enjoy every day.
Città has grown from a wholesale model to now having 15 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. Design is now at the forefront of our minds in every of aspect of the company, from design room through to shop floor.
N. How did you become a homeware designer?
Imogen: Textile design and homeware has always been an area of interest for me. After doing some freelance work in textile design and illustration, an opportunity came up to join Città who was looking for an artist to do some illustration. At the time I was trying my hand at being an exhibiting artist having finished art school – a tough road – and leapt at the chance to do some creative work in a different industry, and creative work where I would be paid!
David: A 3-D design degree, and then positions with David Trubridge and Simon James were the platforms that helped me get to this point. I have been with Città for two and a half years now.
N. It’s 10am on a Sunday morning. Where would we find you and what are you doing?
Imogen: You would probably find me and my partner sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee having a chat about what the day ahead might entail, and watching the kids race around on their bikes.
David: Sunday is definitely a day of rest for me and my family, with slow starts and no routine being essential. So more than likely I’ll be found at home loading the dishwasher.
N. Tell us about the new Newmarket store fit out…
Imogen: What I love about the Newmarket store is the space. It really lets the product breathe and has given us the opportunity to create zones throughout the store that tell stories. The huge painted backdrops have added depth and personality, and really reinforce the importance of colour in our collections.
David: A large element of the fit out is the use of raw concrete panelling. This is because when the old false ceiling was removed it left a tide line above the existing jib. We decided to re-clad that ceiling space with concrete and drag the panelling down to the ground on a couple of feature walls. The modular shelving was designed from scratch and needed to be minimal enough to let the products take centre stage, but also flexible enough to display all of our different products in the best possible light. Another key element of the design is the use of style stations, these combined with coloured feature walls mean the store really reflects the mood and feel of our seasonal collections as a whole, which is great.
N. How would your best friend describe your own personal style?
Imogen: My parents always travelled and took us with them, and in turn so have I. I think this has affected my style quite a bit, and so I have very varied and eclectic interests. Maybe they would say classic and eclectic with a bit of fun and humour.
David: Cheesy dad rock.
N. If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing?
Imogen: Working with animals, or something to do with gardens! Two things that make me happy, and calm me down like nothing else. I’d also love to write and illustrate children’s books!
David: I can’t really imagine myself doing anything else, but my dad was a farmer and I grew up on a farm, so if I had been interested in that I’m sure he would have shown me the ropes.
N. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Imogen: Like most artistic people I can really draw inspiration from anywhere. Colours that occur in nature always astonish and inspire me. Also history is a never-ending source of inspiration.
David: Anything and everything really. Often a mundane, everyday item can be the spark I need to realise something that’s been floating around in my head for a while.
N. Do you ever get creative block and if so, how do you overcome it?
Imogen: Most definitely!! The best thing for me to do is go for a walk around the block. When I walk I find everything falls into place, and I think much more freely. My commute home often helps too, unless the kids are being super loud!
David: Sure do, I find removing myself from the design completely and coming back to it at a later date quite effective. But for me getting other people and their ideas involved early is the key, with a healthy collaboration you always end up with a successful result.
N. What is Newmarket’s best kept secret?
Imogen: Apart from the new Città store, the shops and cafés on Melrose Street. I love having a look through all the amazing and inspirational fabrics at Martha’s and then grabbing a great coffee.
David: Camper coffee is my favourite hole in the wall coffee stop. It’s neatly tucked into a corner of Kent Street and the barista Lee has never let me down.
N. How do you start each day?
Imogen: Usually with my 2 year old son pulling my hair and asking me where he left his toy car. …and then with a strong cup of coffee!
David: Drinking coffee!
N. Recently home décor and interior styling trends have gained a huge following online. How has blogging and social media changed the way you work?
Imogen: Inspiration and imagery is so much more accessible now, so from my perspective I have to be vigilant in trying to remain fresh and original, and find sources of inspiration that are unique. It also means that we are much more in the public eye, which as a brand has been great for us!
David: It’s great to see so many people getting into what I’m into, someone new to design can now go on line and easily access a wealth of knowledge. I personally use Pinterest when I’m researching new materials, construction or finishes and it’s a fantastic way to collate this research for future reference.
Imogen: I love all the texture in this new collection. We have designed some beautiful plaid blankets that are made in NZ. The new baby range is really delightful, and I especially love the the wool blend bassinet and cot blankets.
David: I’m really happy with the way the Gaussian vessels turned out, they feature a really nice clean line that transitions from the outside of the top tray up into the handle. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.
N. Name 5 things that you can’t live without.
Imogen: My family and friends, my garden, animals, coffee, wine and Alexander Girard’s designs.
David: Family, friends, music, coffee and beer
N. Favourite city and why?
Imogen: Outside of my home town Auckland, London. It is by far and away the coolest city on the planet – it has a wonderful rich history, incredible museums and galleries, beautiful parks, the people have edge and brave style, and it is fantastically multicultural. It is unapologetically British and it knows itself like no other city I’ve lived in.
David: Auckland, I’ve always loved this city and with the current climate around the world I’m more than happy to be quietly sitting on the edge of it.
N. Do you have any rules when it comes to homeware trends?
Imogen: I am not a huge follower of trends, although of course I am aware of them. There is a big difference between fads and trends. Fads can be gimmicky, and trends have some substance behind them. It is the same premise as a cliché – there is a reason it has become popular in the first place. In the context of our collections, we are innately aware of what is on trend or fashionable and these ideas and themes come through in colour and design style in some form, but basically we look to our place of inspiration – the land, the culture, the history and the people.
David: No, I’m not a fan of the word or idea of trend, I’ll take timeless any day.
N. What is next for Città?
Imogen: From a textile perspective we are just starting to design for winter 2018, but look out for our summer collection released in August, where we have been inspired by a location a little closer to home.
David: We would like to grow the furniture and lighting aspect of the company even more, and you will be seeing further collaboration between the textile and 3-D sides of the business as well, so watch this space!
8/10 Morrow St, Newmarket