Designer Spotlight: Charlotte Minty {New Zealand}

I’m so very pleased to shine the spotlight on Wellington interior designer, Charlotte Minty. As her name inspires, Minty has a fresh style and eye for design. Since 2003 she has worked on both commercial and residential projects while collaborating with architects. Her self-employed interior design practice is in Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand.

Because I’ve traveled a few times to Wellington I became interested in Kiwi design and designers. Minty and I “met” online when I came across her blog. She kindly featured a post I wrote on the design + food of the fabulous Wellington Mexican restaurant, La Boca Loca. Today, I’m sharing with you a better glimpse of this talented designer.

How would you describe your style?

My style is simple and classic, with a few quirky touches.

What is the first thing you notice when you enter a space?

When entering a space, I notice the overall vibe. This comes from using the traditional method of perception – sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. Although, cheekily, ‘taste’ could be perceived differently here; it refers to the preference or inclination of style that the room possesses. With the senses you can tell whether the space is balanced and well composed.

As a designer, what would you say are the three most important elements of design to consider when decorating a space?

I come from a family of architects and they follow the three principles ‘Commodity, Firmness and Delight’ (or, to be a geek, in the words of early Roman architect, Vitruvuis, “firmitas, utilitas and venustas”- De architectura).
I believe these rules apply to designers as well so I try to keep the following in mind:
Durability – it should stand up robustly and remain in good condition.
Utility – it should be useful and function well for the people using it
Beauty – it should delight people and raise their spirits.

Which part of design do you most like working with (color, space, furnishings, etc.)?

I enjoy the whole package. Each client has different needs and this creates how the design process will eventuate. It’s exciting at the beginning when one is finding different possibilities and options for clients – and it is very rewarding at the end of the process to see the results in situ.

Are there any global style influences/designers that you admire?

If you read my blog, you will know that I am very influenced by Scandinavian design. I grew up with stylish parents who had white Arne Jacobsen 3107 chairs around their dining table long before they became popular or even available in New Zealand. So this design influence started when I was young and it is obvious that it remains today.

A good kilim always catches my eye – so a touch of Morocco and Turkish richness does inspired me too.

I have long admired the work of designer, Ilse Crawford and architect, John Pawson.

Ilse Crawford is an UK based designer and I enjoy the emotional approach to her work – she believes that design can influence the way we behave and how we feel.
Her company, Studio Ilse, start their designs with the human being at the centre – working on what drives us, what brings us together and what makes us feels alive. Their stunning work includes Ett Hem , Mathias Dalgren restaurant and High Road House (part of the Soho House brand which they also developed).

Pawson, also from the UK, preaches and practices the fundamentals of space, light, proportion and materials. He explored these themes in the stunning ‘Minimum’ (1996) book, in which he presented the inspiration of simplicity in art, architecture and design. This book heavily influenced my final years at design school.
Out of his vast portfolio, his work includes the Novy Dvur Monastery in Bohemia, Calvin Klein stores, the B60 sloop , his own homes and a favourite of mine, the Cannelle Cake shop in London.
I attended a lecture of John Pawson when I lived in London and he came across as a down to earth guy (not all architects do!). I spoke to him afterwards and he signed his book for me. I was so chuffed.

Is there an aspect of design that is particular to New Zealand (particularly Kiwi)?

I think the main aspect that is particular to New Zealand would be the outdoor lifestyle we lead. This influences our architecture with a strong indoor – outdoor interaction and flow.

This outdoor lifestyle would lead to another kiwi feature – the ‘bach’ (pronounced ‘batch’). This is what we call a small and often modest holiday home usually found on our coast by the beach. These are an iconic part of our history and culture. Popular in the 50’s, a bach was a simple building, filled with second hand furniture.
In recent times, the humble bach has been overtaken by modern holiday homes which are more substantial, more expensive and well built. However, we are seeing a resurgence of smaller and well designed holiday homes which credited and influenced by the baches of old.

In New Zealand, a lot of our buildings are built with timber. In Wellington, we have Old Government Buildings which is the oldest timber building in the Southern Hemisphere and the second oldest in the world (after Todai-ji, Nara, Japan). This building now houses Victoria University of Wellington’s Law School.

Lastly, there is a strong influence of Nature and Culture that can be found in the work in some of our prominent designers.  David Trubridge  is one, whose work displays the influence of Pacific culture and forms inspired from the surrounding nature of New Zealand. His lights and organic forms have had much success all over the world and fit in many styles of interiors.

What project have you had the most fun on and why?

I designed a kitchen several years for a couple who were serious foodies and they had strong ideas about the details they wanted to add to the kitchen.
One detail was a Pacific-inspired art glass tile which they commissioned – this became a back lit feature in the kitchen splash back. There was also a collection of small art glass objects to house –we did so at the end of the kitchen island in a display cabinet. They had an industrial ‘chemist’ sign and bottles which they wanted to keep on display – which we did above the kitchen cabinetry and it was ‘amped’ up by my lighting designer.
They especially made me laugh with a 700mm tall tap at one meeting – however, it works so well with the simple and clean kitchen that I had designed for them.
I liked that they kept me on my toes and challenged me with different details at each meeting and it was up to me to place them within the kitchen.
They also allowed to let their personalities shine in the kitchen and kept it being about them – not some fancy and slick ‘magazine’ kitchen. It was up to me to make sure these details worked and not to compete with one another. I managed this by keeping the design simple.

Can you share a DIY idea with us?

I like beds with a head-board. This anchors the bed and creates a focal point in the room. Fabric head boards are especially great – you can make them yourself (or as I do, get my upholsterer to make them for my clients!) and they are nice to lean against when you sit up to read. I had one made for my niece several weeks ago and we used a great fabric called ‘Mr Fox’ which she just loves.
I tend to keep my head-boards simple and square with a gusset. However, you can do any shape and use any kind of fabric – the world is your oyster.
Grace Bonney from Design Sponge has a great DIY video on how to create a head board.

If a song were to encompass your interior style, what would it be?

‘The Best is Yet to Come’ Most recently covered by Michael Buble, however also sung by greats, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

{image credit: all photos are Minty originals}

One thought on “Designer Spotlight: Charlotte Minty {New Zealand}

  1. This was SUCH an inspiring and informative interview! Thank you so much! I especially liked learning about New Zealand design aspects. Also, your question about song encompassing style made me smile. I went to the Ambiente fair in Frankfurt and I wanted to ask designers that exact question. But somehow, I couldn’t word it properly and felt I was being to abstract, so instead I went with “use one or a few words to describe your design/products/collection”. It was still fun, but the song question would have been better. Next time I go to a fair, I will use your properly worded question … if that’s ok with you 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s