An Auck­land de­sign stu­dio’s unique ap­proach to nar­ra­tive is rein­vent­ing how they do busi­ness.

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“It’s our job to cre­ate orig­i­nal sto­ries and each project has its own nar­ra­tive,” says Toni Brandso, of Ma­te­rial Cre­ative, an Auck­land-based multi-dis­ci­plinary de­sign prac­tice. “Our de­sign de­ci­sions come from that story and weave their way through ev­ery de­tail.” Work­ing with co-di­rec­tor and fel­low de­signer Liv Pa­tience, the story-telling strat­egy has seen the bou­tique team gain an im­pres­sive client list across the hospi­tal­ity, re­tail, res­i­den­tial and ho­tel sec­tors. It’s an ap­proach that’s gar­ner­ing them at­ten­tion for in­no­va­tion and in­ven­tion in the in­dus­try. “Tak­ing the client and site into ac­count, we es­sen­tially write a one-page story for them and our process be­comes highly col­lab­o­ra­tive,” says Pa­tience. The Junc­tion café, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal iwi and Auck­land Coun­cil, is a re­cent project that typ­i­fies the de­sign duo’s ap­proach. As well as ad­min­is­ter­ing cof­fee and good food in the North Shore sub­urb of Birken­head, The Junc­tion pro­vides a public view­ing plat­form over Le Roys Bush and out to Ran­gi­toto. The pair worked with iwi’s de­scrip­tion of how their peo­ple har­vested food from the bush and har­bour and min­er­als from the cliff to cre­ate colours for craft. “By ex­tract­ing some of the artis­tic tech­niques the iwi ref­er­enced, we wove a strong nar­ra­tive through­out the in­te­rior,” says Brandso. Rich, earthy tones from the sur­round­ing land­scape are trans­planted into the in­te­ri­ors through oak, mar­ble, ex­posed con­crete, rust-red hues and nat­u­ral linen. “It con­nects to the nar­ra­tive while be­ing fresh and time­less,” says Brandso. Nat­u­ral curves are found in a strik­ing, un­du­lat­ing tim­ber wall, bas­ket-like light­ing and seat­ing through­out the 300-square-me­tre site. The views to Ran­gi­toto are sub­lime. An­other project that walks the de­sign­ers’ talk is The Ma­te­rial Cre­ative stu­dio, in a ware­house-style space on Karanga­hape Road. “We wanted the at­mos­phere to have a res­i­den­tial feel, to be com­fort­able; some­where that’s not too pre­cious and has a light-hearted feel.” The in­dus­trial na­ture of ex­posed brick and tow­er­ing tim­ber beams in the 290

square me­tre space is soft­ened with floor-to-ceil­ing fab­ric room di­viders and white-washed ceil­ing rafters. Thonet cane chairs and oak stools are added to pieces that have been col­lected over the years. The space is shared with other cre­atives, so it had to feel good, says Pa­tience, not just look good and pho­to­graph well. “We be­lieve in au­then­tic­ity and this needs to res­onate in the sto­ries and spa­ces we cre­ate.” Brandso and Pa­tience rely on tech­nol­ogy to com­mu­ni­cate these vis­ual sto­ries to clients and tools such as the HP Spec­tre have be­come in­valu­able on and off site. With a pen that al­lows them to draw over the top of plans and im­ages, they can quickly and eas­ily share al­ter­ations with each other and clients, re­gard­less of where they are. “The Spec­tre lap­top is the most ver­sa­tile piece of tech­nol­ogy we own – a per­fect amal­ga­ma­tion of hand draw­ing and tech­nol­ogy,” says Pa­tience. “It also ties us back to our roots and makes us feel more in touch with the draw­ing process,” adds Brandso.

Top The in­te­rior of The Junc­tion café.

Above An in­ti­mate evening set­ting up­stairs at The Junc­tion.

From top left Toni and Liv work­ing in their li­brary; the shared kitchen and a re­laxed area at Ma­te­rial Cre­ative Head­quar­ters, the girls make some notes on their HP Spec­tre.

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