Is Kiwiana too kitsch or is it okay at home?
It’s a little whimsy and all about New Zealand. Those common Kiwi icons - sheep, gumboots, native birds, trees, hokey pokey icecream and the Four Square Man - have found their way onto a whole raft of homewares.
But has Kiwiana decor had its day? Is it becoming overdone and kitsch?
We put the question to a range of art and decor experts - and it seems many of them still have a soft spot for the familiar Kiwi themes.
‘‘It’s kitsch’’, says art commentator Hamish Keith, ‘‘but our own kitsch’’.
He says there’s something about the nostalgia it brings that makes it appealing. However he believes there’s no reason to ‘‘tart it up.’’
‘‘Kiwiana is cool’’ says interior designer Donna White of Donna White Interior Design.
‘‘It is what we grew up with, so is closely entwined with our memories. We should always decorate our homes with the things we need or love.
‘‘To hold on to a piece of Kiwiana may mean that we secretly love it, or love its memory.’’
The bach is perhaps where Kiwiana decor is most expected, and maybe most forgiven.
However some, more critical commentators feel that certain pieces have become too commercialised and tired to be used in any home, even a bach.
Named among the worst offenders are the Four Square man, mirrors or blackboards shaped like a map of New Zealand, tea towels featuring a vintage map of New Zealand, and a few very familiar artworks, like the classic Tiki to Mickey print.
In the opinion of Caroline Botting, deputy editor of NZ House and Garden magazine, there is no forgiving hanging the ’’over-used’’ Tiki to Mickey print on any wall.
‘‘When I first saw it I really liked it, but it is in so many homes now that it has just become over used.’’
It’s all about balance says Amy Tennant, manager of her interior design blog Milo and Mitzy. ‘‘I definitely think too many Kiwiana pieces can be over powering.’’
Instead she says she likes to mix styles up, combining a modern bit of furniture with a unique piece of Kiwiana art.
‘‘There are some great New Zealand artists that do Kiwiana well, such as Glenn Jones and Rakai Karaitiana.’’
She is noticing a growing preference for Kiwiana gardening and outdoor objects.
‘‘Customers can’t get enough of the metal bird sculptures, they have not stopped selling and are one of our most popular items,’’ she says.
Her marae-style bird feeders, native bird outdoor cushions and New Zealand made ceramics are also popular choices.
Lim believes her customers like to buy Kiwiana decor for their homes and baches, but also to send overseas to relatives, ‘‘it’s a little bit of Kiwiana without being too much.’’