New Zealand Defined by Design

When viewing New Zealand design as an entity, several insights become clear. Virtually all of our design has been inspired by the natural elements - water, light, earth - our landscapes and in particular our forests. The essence of “New Zealandness” is inextricably linked to nature and our designers have admirably picked up on this through the centuries.

Using the word ‘design’ in isolation is too narrow to try and communicate the raison d’etre of the curated collection of essenze. We believe design is inseparably connected to art and craft. Art as a source of self-expression, and craft being the materials and skills required to create it. When selecting work, we look for the evidence of art, craft and design. While there is a sliding scale between the three attributes, the visual outcome has to incorporate the thinking, which is also becoming the unique selling point of our design off shore. In New Zealand we have space, we have freedom, we have a natural curiosity and attitude - producing surprisingly sophisticated results from the most unexpected of characters. Into this we introduce the integrity of our heritage, the influences on a young, geographically isolated country.

It is this surprise, this raw sophistication, that we harness in a way that makes sense to a wider audience. Memorabilia is one thing, good design from New Zealand is another, and that is what we show.

essenze is fortunate to work with some of New Zealand’s leading designers. We also work with manufacturers to connect our designers or design talent to their raw capability, producing an edgy outcome that Kiwis can be proud of. essenze also mentors young designers, as well as works along side design programmes at AUT to foster their creativity while preparing them for the reality of the commercial world.


We feel a responsibility to continue tell the story of the evolving landscape of New Zealand design. We will continue to search for the person who paints the history of her immigrant grandmother on an Oar found on the beech, and the sleek, beautifully hand-crafted contemporary Rocking Chair that turns heads in New York; the clever design concept of New Zealand Wool tufted to create a 3-dimensional landscape as a rug, and CNC cut repetition of wood bits forming the contemporary Maori Eel trap as a light fitting.... If this is what people take away as New Zealand design, we have told the story well.


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