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Homegrown | Interview with Gezellig Interiors

Waikato based spatial designer, Annique Heesen of Gezellig Interior Design works on residential and commercial projects across New Zealand. A regular client of James Dunlop Textiles, Annique shares with us how she came to open her rapidly growing design business, and the work she is busily involved in. 

JDT

Can you tell us about your business and how you got into interiors?

GI

I run a spatial practice, based on the philosophy of creating homes that reflect the people who live there, not just who they are today but who they want to be in the days to come. I believe a home should tell a story and speak to the soul. 

I got into interiors after originally studying a Bachelor degree in graphic design and psychology and found interiors sat somewhere between the two worlds. I studied interior design and went on to intern at Homestyle magazine and Citta homewares (after pestering them once a week for months and basically saying I would do anything to get work experience with them).

JDT

Can you explain the concept of ‘Gezellig’? 

GI

Gezellig adj. (heh-SELL-ick), has no English translation but could be described as cozy, inviting, pleasant, comfortable, cheerful, lived in, also connoting time spent with loved ones, or general togetherness. It’s a word used in Dutch culture to describe things like the beauty of candles on a cold evening, catching up with loved ones, reading a book in a warm house by a fire when it’s raining. It’s a feeling of ‘filling your cup’ I guess.

JDT

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

GI

I’m very much someone who beats to my own drum, so working for myself was always the dream. I was involved in some of the retail fit-outs for Citta (I was lucky to have an amazing mentor within the company) and also styling shoots for Homestyle magazine. I loved working with trades and people so it kind of went from there. I have had a few incredibly trusting clients who really launched me into the love of interiors and my design practice.

JDT

What type of projects do you primarily work on?

GI

I enjoy residential the most, you get a real personal level of buy-in and I like working with opportunities created in the intersection of architects/builders/clients/limitations/ design aesthetic. There are some amazing solutions in that space that always seem to be better than the initial idea. I also love the level of relationship and understanding that is created with a client over the course of the build and delivering a home that fits them/their family like it was always meant to be. 

JDT

Can you describe your design development process? How do you come up with ideas for each project?

GI

Books, nature and travel, I have a somewhat photographic memory. Usually I’ll start working on a job and think of something I saw back when I was reading or doing something. For instance, I saw some bricks on a building in Berlin, maybe five years ago and these are now coming to fruition on a job I am currently working on. 

I also love literature and podcasts. Recently I was listening to a podcast about the development of pipeline skating and how it came from the empty kidney shaped swimming pools (due to drought), in Florida and California. This led me to researching the house with the first original kidney shaped pool, and it was this home that inspired the design of my own projects.

Taking in all of these influences, I would say I have a very living, fluid design process. I’m not afraid to be wrong and I think that opens you up to some truly wonderful results. The best results are found in collaboration and openness to ideas. 

JDT

What are some of your top sources of inspiration that you reference regularly? What other designers, peers or creatives in general do you admire? 

GI

The forest, but seriously my best ideas have come while I've been out walking. I think social media, although it has its downfalls, provides access to some amazing design both locally and internationally.

Internationally I look to: 

Locally we are so lucky in New Zealand to have some truly incredible and innovative architects and designers who I admire immensely. There’s some great work going on here in New Zealand. 

I’ve been lucky to have mentors in the industry who I see as truly instrumental in my path and whom I admire immensely: Sean Dunne, Katrina Glenday, Alice Lines, Gemma Adams and an architect I work with a lot, Evan Mayo. Evan has challenged me constantly over the years in a way that has grown my understanding and ability to come up with solutions that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. 

JDT

You are located regionally in the Waikato but work all over NZ, can you tell us how you work with clients outside of your location?

GI

I travel a lot. Hence the podcasts!

But good design communication and working with a trusted team on site helps, email/zoom also is a good support channel. 

JDT

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

GI

I think there’s a real movement towards revival and historical referencing which I have been waiting for, things people used to rip out to make something perfect are now leaving it and loving it for its imperfections. I think there’s a real flow of embracing difference and change which is exciting, juxtaposition seems to also be coming through strongly, think soft organic elements clashed with strong striking hard angled elements. 

JDT

What are your current favourite fabrics from James Dunlop ranges? We know you are a BIG fan of Designs of the Time.

GI

Haha BIG fan! 

I’m loving Kuna, Gatsby, Gitano, Alpaca, Otto, Raku, Eternal, Satori, Como, Rataya, Sesterie- CF, Beam FR Kirkby collection, Antipodes, Shoji, Sahel, Lines- Kirkby, Quinta, Conch, Topanga.

JDT

How do you select and source your materials for your project, you use some unique materials/design features - any special focus here?

GI

Developing close relationships with suppliers has enabled this and my love of research.  I also don’t take “no you can’t do that or we don’t have that” well, so I’ll push until I can understand why or find something that suits.

When a fabric comes up that’s unique, they will show me. I can be very decisive and know exactly what I'm looking for. 

JDT

Have you got a recent project where you have specified our product that you can tell us about? What products did you use?

GI

I do, it’s a project with unexpected furnishing, it’s a very serious house and the furnishings are very playful. We have used Zinc Conch, Mokum Shoji and Designs of the Time Gatsby in a colour to match a custom rug made for us by Nodi. It is very bright and playful and intersects with a very serious and considered natural palette.

JDT

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

GI

A home that represents the people that live there, and has little unexpected moments. I have a client I’ve had for years and she has an historical home that’s quite serious in nature and then an art piece of a hamster. She’s a hilarious person who loves a laugh and I just love the intersection of the orderly historical home and this casual artwork.

JDT

What excites you about the New Zealand/Australian design community? What exciting things can we expect to see from Gezellig over the next year? 

GI

We have a real understanding of how to integrate into the landscape and a love of getting together, to live outside and that has great outcomes. I also think the design community here has real innovative ideas and a humbleness to the design. 

I’m working on some projects that have been years in the making, so I can’t wait to see those break ground, they are all so different and that’s exciting to me. 

See more about Annique here: www.gezelliginteriors.com

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Have you ever wondered what our fabrics would look like on a piece of furniture or as a curtain?  Do you struggle to imagine it?  We call this the imagination gap. 

To help bridge this gap, we at James Dunlop Group (JD Group), have invested in creating high quality digital copies of our physical fabrics. Capturing every thread and fibre so that we are able to create and provide you with photorealistic digital imagery across an extensive range of fabric designs and colourways, through 3D rendering.