For designers who live and work in Auckland, its proximity to nature and outdoorsy culture are often larger influences than any fleeting global trend. This is especially true of Jamie McLellan, former Tom Dixon head of design.
As told to Ronen Lev by fellow Auckland native Sam Eichblatt.
I first met James when I interviewed him for Auckland’s leading shelter magazine, HOME NZ. Despite having only recently arrived back in the country, he won the magazine’s Designer of the Year award for 2009 with his Twig coat-stand. (And won it again the next year for the Flyover table, a piece commissioned for the New Zealand room at the Venice Biennale.)
The first thing he said was, after his stints in Milan, Hong Kong and London, how happy he was to live near the ocean again. Every weekend he went sailing, and his daily commute consisted of cycling along the waterfront to his studio in a converted boatshed with his border terrier, Walnut, in his backpack.
Jamie never saw living in a Pacific island nation as a barrier to working internationally. His love affair with the outdoors and fascination with structural beauty and engineering are threads that run through his work with Avanti and Neil Pryde Windsurfing, his design of the world’s most beautiful canoe (with regular collaborator Andy Jacobs), and his collections of furniture and lighting, which includes the nautically inspired Spar lamp, which joined the Flyover in a range for New Zealand’s Resident brand.
Similarly, his latest project, Allbirds, is a new brand of footwear woven from natural, breathable New Zealand merino wool, which successfully launched in the US last year.