Gemma, can you introduce yourself?
I am an interior designer based in the beautiful Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. Back in 2015, I started a fragrance business where I would style and shoot all my products in my home. This led to being approached by a local interior homestore and being asked if I’d take on styling for their magazine shoots each month. From there, everything just grew. I worked as an interior stylist for six years in both New Zealand and London before returning home and honing in on my desire to create intentional spaces with longevity. I now work across residential and commercial interior projects throughout New Zealand.
What is your design ethos?
It is important to me to create forever spaces. This happens through collaboration with clients. I want to create spaces where a family feels at home and can experience and enjoy all the materials and elements for years to come. For this reason, quality materials and timeless pieces are always a top priority for me.
What does art do or add to a home?
Art can really bring a space to life, it adds personality, colour and mood to a space. It can also evoke memories and feelings in a way other elements in design cannot – it can give a space its own voice.
How important is viewing art in-situ in a home?
Viewing art in-situ can be so important in allowing the viewer to see a piece of art from another perspective; the ways the light might catch textures and colours and also to see what the art brings to a space.
For this project you have teamed up with a 3D render artist. How did your partnership with Lanre Alao begin?
I’ve been a big fan of Lanre’s work for years now. We’ve been friends on Instagram for some time and often send each other messages of support about each other’s work. When the opportunity came up to create these spaces for Art Edit, I knew Lanre was the one I wanted to work with. His attention to detail, adding textures and layers to a space is incredible.
Talk us through how you worked with Lanre on this project.
I had a clear idea of the direction I wanted for each art piece, pulling on their colours and feelings. I began by creating mood boards for each space showing material selections, colours, textures, furniture pieces and the overall feeling for each space. These timber, stone, furniture and fixture selections are all materials I work with everyday in my role as an interior designer. I really got to have fun and use them in a more exaggerated sense. I then created each 3D space in Sketchup with a materials key. Once I had put these models and mood boards together I sent them over to Lanre to conceptualise each space. I love how he can bring a space to life so I really left it in his hands from there.
What design element could you not live without for your projects?
Shape is really important to me. It has its own language that is not as obvious to read as elements like colour but will make you feel nostalgic, tall, small, calm or energetic just in its being. Layering shapes also adds texture and dimension to a space which can be so much fun to play with.
Do you have an art or design collection at home?
If so, what are your favourite pieces?
I have special pieces I’ve collected while travelling, amazing vintage finds and a handful of designer pieces I coveted for years. For me, it is important that the things that fill my home have a sentimental value to me, whether they inspire me, remind me of an adventure or someone special, it’s these things that make a house a home. My favourite pieces would be my Wassily chairs that always act as a source of inspiration in their shape and design along with my Claybird Ceramics serveware, handmade by my lovely friend Yon. They always remind me of the beauty of natural materials and to throw a dinner party and connect with friends.