Material Creative is an Auckland-based spatial design practice creating spaces that bring people together and demand attention. Under the direction of partners Olivia (Liv) Patience and Toni Brandso, they produce integrated designs that tell a unique story for each client. The ‘Material Girls’ believe in authenticity and aim to create inspired interiors across a full spectrum of high-end residential, hospitality and retail projects.
We love the interiors that Material Creative produce and were pleased to have the opportunity to ask co-owner Toni Brandso a few questions about their work.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history behind the company? What inspired you to start the business and how has it grown since then?
Liv and I first met at University and joined forces in 2008, after a stint living in France together snowboarding for a season, to design the Piha café. We had a lot of time in the chalet kitchen dreaming of starting a design business. The Piha café project brought our distinct design backgrounds to life in the process, and ignited an appetite for creating unexpected spaces. The experience was so wonderfully productive that we decided to officially unite in late 2009 and started working on Marbecks retail rollouts. After being several years as just ‘two’ we now have a wonderful team of six.
What type of projects do you primarily work on?
We work on a lot of hospitality and retail projects. And we’ve also been working on a few roll outs over the past year, which has been a great challenge injecting new life into existing brands.
Can you describe your design development process? How do you/your team come up with ideas for each project and where do you get your inspiration?
We draw inspiration from our projects, not trends, and try to create spaces that are imaginative, inspirational and that tell a strong story. We work quite fluidly at the beginning, printing out images and inspiration and have a big brainstorm together around the kitchen table. We then leave it a couple of days for the inspiration to sink in. Sometimes an idea comes instantly… which is the dream scenario!
What are your current favourite fabrics from James Dunlop and Mokum?
I love the Native collection by James Dunlop. I saw some ottomans upholstered in Cherokee used in the photoshoot and now we have them in our new office. I also love Apache from the same collection. Another favourite is Pavement – I can’t go past a metallic tartan check. On a personal note, I’ve just bought an apartment and my first port of call was drapery in my bedroom. I saw Magnolia by Mokum on Instagram and ordered it straight away! I love the large scale floral – beautiful.
Above: Drapery in Magnolia by Mokum in Toni Brandso's apartment.
Above: Ottomans upholstered in the Native collection by James Dunlop in the Material Creative office.
Describe your day-to-day role in the business?
Well where do I start….as co-owner my role is so varied. I am often in meetings with new and existing clients or on site while projects are in construction. I also spend a lot of time on the creative side of things – working with our team on concepts for new projects (this is my favourite part).
What do you love about working in the design industry?
I love getting to be creative all day, every day.
What are some of your top sources of inspiration that you reference regularly?
Podcasts keep my world view open, and I get quite inspired by listening to things outside the design realm. I do love Instagram and I always follow Kelly Wearstler, Simone Haag, We Are Triibe, The Jungalow, The Design Files, House of Hackney, Avroko, Techne Architects and so many more!
What other designers, peers and creatives in general do you admire?
I really admire our peers in the New Zealand design industry. There are so many people in different niches in interiors that are killing it. To name a few: Rufus Knight, Jess and Maggie at Bureaux, Nat Cheshire and the Akau ladies (who are bringing design and education to teens in the far North).
Which of your most recent projects are you particularly proud of?
2016 was a great year for us – we completed some awesome projects that we are particularly proud of – Bird On A Wire, Hayes Common, Atomic Café and Artwok (to name just a few!). We also finished ASC Hair Salon and we loved this project it was our first hair salon and we enjoyed feminising heavily industrial aesthetic.
We’ve literally just completed work on the Wayfarer café in the Regional Departures at Auckland Airport and this project was a particular favourite as everything ran like clockwork – the contractors, the client, the branding – everything just worked like a well-oiled machine.
We’ve recently moved into a new, purpose built office space – it’s a work in progress but we are really proud of it so far. It’s so nice to be able to be ourselves – being our own client is the best (sometimes!).
What exciting things can we expect to see from Material Creative in the future?
For the past couple of years we have been working on a hotel in Auckland (which features a lot of fabrics from James Dunlop Textiles!) and it should be finished this year, which is VERY exciting! It’s our biggest project to date. We hope to do more hotels in the future, it's such a great mix of essentially hospitality and residential.
Sneak peek of the reception of the hotel project. The wall is made with hundreds of individual pieces of canvas painted with gold.
Above: The ‘Material Girls’ at the 2016 Interior Awards. From left – Seina Yan, Liv Macfarlane, Liv Patience, Toni Brandso and Jamie Aspinall. (Not pictured: Suzie Mitchell). Image vis Urbis.
Published April 9, 2017
To see more projects by Material Creative, you can visit their website or follow their instagram.