De­sign note­book

Q&A with Kristina Pick­ford

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Strange lay­out and low­ered ceil­ings aside, what at­tracted you to the place?

We wanted an apart­ment in the true cen­tre of Auck­land and a her­itage build­ing was our pre­ferred op­tion. We spent one week­end look­ing at var­i­ous in­ner-city apart­ments and took no longer than five min­utes in each, with the ex­cep­tion of this apart­ment. I loved the es­sen­tial form of the space – the high ceil­ings, the mod­u­lar ar­range­ment of the con­crete col­umns and beams and the north­west as­pect. The steel win­dows were also ap­peal­ing – the qual­ity of light through­out is beau­ti­ful. The clincher was the long view over lower Queen Street, the Cloud, Shed 10 and out to the har­bour be­yond.

Tell us about ren­o­vat­ing the apart­ment.

Lo­gis­ti­cally it was chal­leng­ing. The lo­ca­tion made it dif­fi­cult for con­trac­tors – park­ing, re­mov­ing ma­te­ri­als, ne­go­ti­at­ing large items up five flights of stairs was test­ing. I loved the chal­lenge of util­is­ing ev­ery square inch of the 96 square me­tres to best ef­fect. Be­fore I started I listed vir­tu­ally ev­ery item that needed a home and set about mak­ing sure the de­sign was fit for pur­pose. Hav­ing suf­fi­cient space was a con­cern at the out­set, but we have more than we need.

Rather than built-in cab­i­netry for stor­age, you bought free­stand­ing USM. Why?

The ma­jor­ity of our stor­age is in the hall­way – the kitchen units are backed with a bank of wardrobe stor­age. All ad­di­tional stor­age is free-stand­ing – the bed­room cab­i­net, the of­fice desk and book­shelves are all USM Haller sys­tems. I con­tem­plated be­spoke cab­i­netry but I’ve al­ways liked USM. The mod­u­lar char­ac­ter plays nicely with the stan­dard­ised col­umn and beam struc­ture. It’s time­less and has an un­der­stated qual­ity that works with our other mid-cen­tury and con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture. USM was first de­signed in the 1960s, so it ex­presses the ra­tio­nal­ity and func­tion­al­ity which pre­vailed in good de­sign at that time.

You chose to have a wall of win­dows be­tween the liv­ing area and bed­room rather than a solid wall. Why?

This was a de­ci­sion I made very early on and was very con­fi­dent about. The bed­room isn’t overly large so I knew al­low­ing more light in would give the space a more gen­er­ous feel­ing. The in­ter­nal win­dow is de­signed in such a way that valu­able space isn’t lost – there’s a 900mm-high wall be­neath the win­dow for clothes stor­age on one side and a desk on the other.

Right be­low Switches through­out the apart­ment are from Thom.

1. En­trance 2. Bed­room 3. Study 4. Din­ing 5. Liv­ing 6. Kitchen 7. Hall 8. Laun­dry 9. Bathroom

Right top A be­spoke steel and glass cav­ity slid­ing door to the bathroom.

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