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Designer interview – Donna White of Donna White Interiors

Born into a family with artistic and creative talents, it was only natural that Auckland, New Zealand based Donna White developed a passion for design from a very early age. We caught up with Donna who shared with us her professional journey, views on interior design and some of her favourite projects.

JDT

Can you tell us a little bit about your business and how you got into Interiors?

DW

I come from a creative family, and we expressed our creativity in many various ways.  In the year 2000 I had the opportunity to travel to London and study full time at Inchbald School of Architectural Interior Design in London.  I graduated with PGDIP in ID, and have never looked back.

JDT

What inspired you to start the business and how has it grown since then? 

DW

My Inchbald study formalized my interior design skills and gave me confidence to start Donna White Interior Design.  Upon my return to NZ, and as soon as I could, I underwent peer review appraisal at the Designers’ Institute of NZ and have been awarded the right to include the appellation PDINZ (Professional Designers’ Institute of NZ) to my business signature.  I respect and value professionalism in the NZ interior design industry, and DINZ is the only body in New Zealand that can give designers’ this accreditation.  I feel it is important that clients understand the difference between a professional interior designer, and a decorator.

JDT

What type of projects do you primarily work on? 

DW

Primarily residential, but some commercial.

JDT

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?  

DW

I take a detailed verbal brief from prospective clients and interpret it into a written format so they can see I have listened and understood what they want to achieve.  I also like to look at existing furniture and accessories my clients’ own (sometimes these are in storage), so can include special pieces in my design.  It is my role as a professional ID PDINZ to attend new product releases, so I am aware of what is new on the market, and know what is appropriate to specify for each individual assignment.  I have always believed that nature never gets it wrong, and when I need to find extra inspiration, I go for a walk – there are so many beautiful spots to walk around Auckland, and all over NZ.  

JDT

You are located in Auckland, do you work with clients across NZ? If so, can you tell us how you work with clients outside of your location?  

DW

I have worked in Wellington, Sydney, and Hong Kong.  In today’s world we can have Zoom meetings, WhatsApp and use WeChat to touch base.  I naturally use email, electronic Mood Boards and mobile phone calls to communicate.

JDT

What are some key styles or trends you are seeing in New Zealand interiors?

DW

I am specifying timber, curves and metal finishes in furniture, walls, mirrors and other accessories, locally sourced product, and NZ artisans.

JDT

What are your current favourite fabrics from James Dunlop and Mokum? 

DW

At the moment I love Mokum Bespoke, because the cloth has a sense of movement, and the colours are divine.  I love mixing patterns and texture, and so Bespoke coupled with, for example, Mokum Eternal Linen, is a lovely contrast of matt and sheen.  Currently, I am using Christian Fischbacher’s Newtophia, which is curtain fabric with a landscape design that has 1/3 of it blurred to depict reflection on water.  It will be hung floor to ceiling in a conservatory/tea room, which I am filling with large pots and palms.

JDT

Have you got a current project where you have specified our product that you can tell us about? 

DW

There is one interior design project in particular which is very exciting, because the interior demolition of everything inside commenced this week – new walls, floors, tiles, kitchen, bathrooms, joinery, window treatments and landscaping.  I love also that this job has given me the opportunity to design a new wrought iron entry pendant for the double void entry.  Next week the client and I will see it hung in the forge at Wrought Iron Specialists, and discuss the addition of Swarovski crystal as a finishing flourish.  I have specified Mokum fabrics for all the window treatments, upholstery, and cushions on bespoke furniture.  The project is due to be completed around October 2021, and I plan to publish the results on my social pages and website.  

JDT

In your opinion what makes a home interior stand out from the crowd? 

DW

I love all interior design styles, and my clients lead the way in the style they want to have in their homes.  My role as a PDINZ is to follow good interior design principles so the resulting décor is wow.  A client that allows me to repurpose and upcycle loved, well-made, old, and collectable furniture and accessories allows me to create homes that have history, character and a special personality – and I also love that I am helping save perfectly good furnishings from landfill.

JDT

What are some of your top sources of inspiration that you reference regularly?  

DW

The internet, and product releases from local importers, suppliers, and manufacturers, artists, galleries and museums, nature walks in our beautiful country, and of course talking to my clients.  When possible, I make annual visits overseas to visit international Design Fairs and suppliers.

JDT

What other designers, peers or creatives in general do you admire? 

DW

I love the superb elegance created by Jean-Louis Deniot, and the wonderful colourful eclectic style of Kit Kemp.  I read their books from cover to cover and refer to them online.  Naturally, when I lived in London, I visited Kit Kemp hotels.  I love art, and artists.

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Artisanal craftsmanship is celebrated and revered within Ikigai, (‘iki’, meaning life and ’gai, meaning value) and was carefully captured in a photoshoot that spoke to the theme of bespoke speciality pieces that create joy within interior spaces.   Mokum teamed up with a handpicked selection of Australia’s top creatives to produce a photography campaign that exudes a contemporary and relaxed aesthetic.

You too can create this embodiment of Ikigai within your home or workplace by layering our latest patterns and plain textiles and wallpaper with beautifully crafted, bespoke furniture, hand woven rugs, lighting and homewares from this curated selection of Australian design leaders that Mokum was proud to collaborate with.