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Show & Tell: Greg Straight, Illustrator

Greg Straight's a busy boy. When he's not at his day job in a design studio, he's illustrating - for some of New Zealand's biggest brands who commission him, for his first children's book, for a line of stationery, and for his own range of art prints. No Sleep McGee.

Was there a point at which you needed to take a big risk or leap of faith to move forward?

About four years ago I decided to take a step back from my day job and have half a day at home with my daughter Chloe. I took a pay cut and madly drew while she had her lunch time sleep, then we would hit the park in the afternoon. As time went on I took a whole day off, and then another. Each time taking a bigger pay cut, which was a little scary with a mortgage and two children. But it was never a huge risk as I did it quite gradually.   

The biggest leap of faith will be when I leave completely and become fully self employed. I’m lucky to have bosses who understand where I am trying to go...   

What advice would you give to another illustrator who wants to get to where you are? 

Become a builder or plumber you get paid more! Kidding, well sort of. I think you need to work to your strengths and do what you enjoy doing. If you love what you do it shines from the work...

You also need to DO something to get your work seen. Enter competitions, approach clients directly, chase leads, make books, create portfolio packs, have shows, do flyers, whatever, but put yourself out there. No one will ever see how good you are if your work never leaves your Mac.  

It's definitely not an easy road, you have to work really, really hard, expect lots of late nights and to sacrifice things you love doing. But it’s also very rewarding when you produce something that people love, it’s a cool buzz.  

I'm hungry... what are you eating for lunch lately?  
Good question! When I am at my day job in Milford you can’t beat The Swiss Café for a salami baguette, or the Japanese place on the main strip amongst the mobility scooters and blue rinsed old ladies waiting for the bus.  At home it’s Sushi or a quick cheesy toastie. I have to add Farro Fresh in Albany make the best sandwiches I’ve tasted, off the cheese board. They also do amazing sweet treats, the other day I had my first Cronut, half croissant, half donut. Got me thinking….. Maybe I should invent the world's first Bronut. Watch this space.  

What are you getting up to in the weekend?  
Potluck Mexican night with friends on Saturday and a few outings to local parks and cafes with Chloe and Leo... and a bit of work.  

What is your most favorite thing in your studio?  
Without sounding cheesy probably my wife Hannah who sits behind me, often trying to ignore my constant mindless banter. It can’t be easy. I have a good-sized collection of design books and collect Monster Children magazines. 

Awesome photos by Jono Parker

We love a good recommendation - tell me about something (or things) we should know about...
I was recently looking at Geoff Mcfetridge’s work - if you don’t know him, what are you doing? Check out www.championdontstop.com.

An amazing book I bought the other day is called Vectorism – Vector Graphics Today, it is totally inspiring and reinforces the way my art and illustrations are heading. It’s a collection of the world’s best illustrators James Joyce, Anthony Burrill, Onesidezero, Craig & Karl and Janine Rewell plus loads more. Google those peeps and you may just fall off your chair!  

I don’t get out much these days but my friends John and Lorna took us to Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar in Federal Street as a birthday present and it was mind blowing. The fish Tacos I would kill you for! 

Frenchy baker buddy from Greg's first children's book, While You Were Sleeping
You know that classic old Chelsea Golden Syrup tin from our childhoods? 
They've just released an Artist's Collector's Edition, with illustrations by Greg. 

Bird & Knoll


There's a new indie luxury accessories brand on the roster - Bird & Knoll.  The minds behind it are a couple of Trans-Tasman friends - Natalie, a photographer and Macayla, a branding aesthete with a pedigree of working for NZ fashion names.

Their launch collection, simply titled The First Six Things (nice) is a line of cashmere-blend scarves, designed to be used as the final edit of a woman's outfit.

Each of the 6 bold, feminine scarves features the colours and textures of Natalie's travel photographs, from the streets of New York to the alleyways of Marrakesh via the temples of Bali and beyond.

What caught my eyeball initially was their look-book, shot on a wild West Coast beach. The entire campaign is gorgeous and airy and moody and it's making me think I might look exotically beautiful and mysterious in one of those scarves. Or at least feel it.

If I was this hot, all I'd wear is a jumper and a scarf. Even going up to the dairy.

Bird & Knoll's debut collection is available for pre-order now. 
And I'm looking forward to seeing what Natalie and Macayla do next.

NZ's best Cafe Interiors


Part of the whole experience of going to a new cafe or eatery is the interior design. amiright? amiright? 
And little ol' NZ has some of the coolest cafes in the world. Would you believe, we're known for it!

Well now, someone clever has made a great big coffee table book showcasing NZ's best cafe interiors. That clever someone is Ben Crawford, all-round handsome dude, writer, photographer and The Block winner. The book is Built For Caffeine, published by NZs indie publisher Beatnik Publishing. 

Ben and Beatnik let me show you aaaaaall these photos from the book...

All these amazing photographs are © Ben Crawford. 
Used with permission from Built for Caffeine by Ben Crawford, published by Beatnik Publishing.

CONGRATS on the book Ben! You wrote 50,000 words and took 200,000 photos and travelled the length of our country to find the best Cafe interiors, and the result is A W E S O M E. 
What was the highlight of the adventure? 
Thank you Alana!  It had to be meeting the people behind the spaces. The owners, designers and architects. They were all so inspiring and creative and amazing. Each space had such a unique story and reason for being and every time I left a café I was so pumped with ideas and motivation. We really are blessed with amazing creativity in NZ.

Let's make believe - imagine you have a whole arvo to kill and you decide to spend it in a favourite Cafe. Where do you go, what do you take with you and what do you do while there?
I'm spending a lot of time at the moment over on The North Shore, especially on the weekends and that's when I'm more likely to have a free afternoon! So I'd head along to my favourite café on The Shore, Little King Café, with my girlfriend Kylie as we love lunching and brunching there. Sadly I'd have to bring along with my phone in case any Insta-worthy moments popped up. I'm addicted to Instagram by the way.

Then I'd bombard Kylie with my latest and greatest ideas and new projects, because that's what I seem to do in cafes. They're so inspiring and relaxing, making you feel like you can do and achieve anything.

And without fail, no matter how many coffees I've already had, I'll get one to go as well. I don't have a problem. Honest.  

What I like most about this book is how you pull ideas that people can try in their own homes from each cafe's interior. Give us a couple of easy 'ideas to steal'...
Don't feel like you have to have uniform seating around your dining table. Sure regimented looks great, but it's not a mandatory. Inject a bit of fun by mixing and matching styles, sizes and colours of your seating. Federal & Wolfe in Auckland's CBD do this sublimely, combing colourful wire seats and wooden benches with grafittied chairs. You could copy this approach exactly at home with six different chairs, or peg it back a little and use four white ones and two yellow ones for example.

At the Six Barrel Soda Co. in Wellington they used bricks to form the base of their service counter. Take that same approach and give this fresh idea a crack for your own breakfast bar base or create a super feature wall in any room of the house.

The original C1 Espresso in Christchurch was destroyed during the devastating Canterbury earthquakes. When owner Sam Crofskey started again he custom-made the tables from rimu and kauri he salvaged from the old space to create a familiar connection with the new C1. Take a leaf out of Sam's book and turn reclaimed timber into a coffee table, bedside drawers or an original piece of art. Use wood from the old structure of your renovation or, failing that, at least try to source timber with a connection to your local area.

What's your standard coffee order? 
Before Built For Caffeine I was a simple trim flat white man. It's still my go-to but during my travels my eyes were opened by the guys at Supreme, Flight and Kokako to the traditional brew methods so now I'll often go for a single origin Chemex if it's on offer and try beans from a country or region I haven't tasted yet.  

I love food. What was the best thing you ate on your Cafe travels? 
I'm a sucker for porridge. I love it and have been known to order it well into the afternoon. Think it's my Scottish ancestry. Sounds boring but you'd be surprised at the variety out there – right now I'm enjoying the Spiced Coconut & Heilala Vanilla Rice Porridge at Kokako in Grey Lynn.

Where do we buy the book?
You can get it at www.builtforcaffeine.co.nz - or it's available nationwide at all major booksellers and Freedom Furniture.

Signing books and saying a few words at the book launch.



Things to steal: the (affordable and awesome) string lights in the corner. 

I love you, Jardan

Go pick yourself some spiky wildflowers, they beat supermarket lilies any day.

Ideas to steal: two pairs of different chairs at the dining table. 

I would whip up a mean Rosti in this kitchen. With parsley garnish to make it fancy.

You'd sort of need to wear your sunnies in this kitchen... but I love it. Oh, you want to see more to the left? Camera pan...
Honey! Breakfast is ready! And can you bring me my risky-business Raybans?
Sunny side up.

Awesome, small studio apartment is awesome and small.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

Lujo makes spaces fancy with their range of outdoor ottomans and bean bag chairs

Tall Fellow

Man Goods for Good Men


NZ wife and hubby team Sherna & Ashley Griffiths have just launched their new label, The Brothers.  It's a concise collection of leather bags and accessories, crafted with the modern gentleman in mind. A man with a quality piece of luggage is a sexy, sexy man. Smell the leather.

All the products bare the name of a legendary bloke - Cousteau, Hemingway, Selleck (Tom Selleck is what's happenin'!) and come not just in tan leather but in other colours - navy blue, grey, black...

Below are my personal faves, but there's quite a few others - including skinny leather ties, yusss - check out The Brothers website. 

Travel with a Cousteau duffel

Hemingway document folio; and Cash 

Selleck - it's a Transformer - a Dopp Kit that converts into a flat folio (for an iPad or other stuff)

LOVE the Bogart Garment Bag!

Gable computer bag

Ashley & Co


Ever since I bought my first Ashley & Co WashUp for the kitchen (makes my sink look fancy), I've wondered who was behind this cool little New Zealand brand. 

And after recently spotting their new refill product (so you don't need to keep buying the amber-coloured glass dispensers) and limited-edition illustrated bottle, I was even more curious about who the heck is behind Ashley & Co and its awesome design. Let's find out...

Ben and Jackie - what was the journey to creating Ashley & Co? - What were you both doing beforehand and what inspired you to start the brand? 
Ben studied at Elam and has always been involved in the creative industry. I however, trained as a Physiotherapist and worked in Special needs at an Auckland secondary school before departing and following my creative inklings. I must say, Physiotherapy was a path that I chose at 18, but my other passion was design, interiors and items for home. I had our first house fully-furnished through Auckland auction houses well before we even had a home, so it was no surprise that we ended up with a business manufacturing home products of some kind!

We formed Ashley & Co after an American friend of ours, Kate Growney (who started the perfume company Saffron James in the US) gifted us a home diffuser product. Nothing like it was available in New Zealand or Australia. It took nearly a year to bring our first batch of Diffusers to market, selling them through Smith & Caughey's and a few other smaller retailers.

We were the first New Zealand diffuser product to market, and soon after started producing our Wash Up.

At the time I was mad on wallpaper, so the original patterns on the packaging were literal interpretations of the names we created for each of the fragrances.

Packaging details.

Your design is clean, classy and cool. As is your packaging - solid amber glass vessels, embossed details, the Mini Bars with perforated cardboard openings... I love it all. So who does your design work, and do you come up with the ideas yourselves?  
When we first started we were limited with the range of bottles, but we both loved the old pharmaceutical bottles and it started from there. We call Ben our 'typesetter' - a joke, as really he is the crux of all our brand design and packaging. Without Ben there would not be an Ashley & Co, just 
Ashley with an idea.

Mini Bar

Is Ashley & Co truly a 100% New Zealand brand? 
We are 100% manufactured here in New Zealand.  We try to use as many local suppliers as possible, from our bottles, pumps, caps, down to the filling, fragrance, and packaging. Since we started we have used nearly all of the same suppliers...

Are you sold overseas? 
No not yet. We've always said that we want to get it right here, first. There was no point in rushing into trying to grow beyond our means, and possibly being unable to keep up with demand. Having said that we are continually sending our product to all parts of the globe, to people who have travelled to New Zealand, experienced our product, and want it to use at home!

The new limited-edish label is a drawing by NZ illustrator Tane Williams

Love the new limited-edition illustrated bottle. Are you planning to do more of these? 
Ben likes the idea of a continually evolving our offerings by introducing another person's interpretation of our products. Commissions or collaborations are a way of us achieving this, and keeping the packaging special and new. We would love to do more limited-edition labels in the future, allowing people to have something fresh in their home and bathrooms while staying true to our brand's design aesthetics.

New to the line-up, TopUp (refills for your glass Ashley & Co vessels)

Ashley & Co also now have an industry handwash - called Handful - for businesses like restaurants, cafes etc.
Dunno about you but I'd like that minimalist white bottle at my place!

Make Your Own Lamp


Douglas and Bec just released a Make It Yourself angle lamp. You choose the colours of the base, lamp shade and cord, they'll send everything to you, put it together, do a dance. 

Let's Eat! Design Pick n Mix time...


Lets eat...

Rad cushions and they're only US$38!

Melbourne branding studio The Company You Keep have super, super nice work (and P.S: brilliant name). Especially digging this identity they did for The Beaumont, a nautical-themed dive bar in Melbourne.

Love it all. 

Edit Lamp by interior designer turned product designer, Joanna Laajisto

Never not looking at bags to buy. This duffel would be my beach buddy.

There are plenty of upload-your-images-and-we'll-make-them-into-a-book services, but a lot of them have verrrrry ugly formats. And yes, design does matter. My summer project is to capture all the awesome moments, and then have them printed in one of the Artifact Uprising books. 

I'll always love my set of matching 80's Tupperware, but if I had the Rutherfords, these Copper and wood BASE containers would be in my pantry.

Enjoy your weekend. Do whatever the hell you want. You're so cool. You're even more awesome than a young Bill Cosby, and that's saying something.

Fancy X Dilana Rug Collaboration - and the winner is...


You can't see me right now, but I am making trumpet royal-pronouncement sounds with my mouth, because I have tallied (great word) the votes, and we have two winning rug designs... 

Actually - I just have to say - close to 1,000 of you voted, which is so humbling and awesome.

OK - (back to trumpet heralding sounds) the two rugs you'd voted for us to produce are...

So Fancy will be a 100% NZ wool rug, hand-tufted by Dilana's artisan rug makers in their Christchurch workshop. The next step is choosing the exact colours to be used, getting as close to this graphic as possible. I'll keep you in the loop with that one. The 1.5m diameter So Fancy rug is valued at $3,500, made with the finest craftsmanship and materials to last for generations. 

My Dane will be a dye-injected rug, also a very-big 1.5 metres in diameter.

One So Fancy rug and one My Dane rug is going to be given away.  Cartwheeeeeeels! 

Nice Spaces make me happy

I would live in The Hague's Tas-ka store. Customers can just shop around me. 

Real beats over-styled in an arm wrestle any day.

Good afternoon, beautiful.

I bet the man who lives here smells lovely and has great shoes.

Want those pillows? Here they is.
I like to stay in bed allllll morning and blog.

Dark green looking kinda glam-o-rous here.

Want a clamp light like that one? Over here. And the giant type poster? Here. 

LOVE these white pendant lights! 

I don't know about you, but I'm really into black dining chairs right now. PS: easy decorating idea - display a few of your favourite books on a floating shelf.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 + 10

Lujo makes spaces fancy with their range of outdoor ottomans and bean bag chairs

Limited Edish Citta Prints


Citta's Senior Designer Imogen Tunnicliffe has illustrated some super cute prints over the years (used on cushions, duvets...) and they've just released Limited Edition Prints of her 5 most popular designs.
There's only 80 of each...
These are my two faves - Hampstead Heath and Meguro - see the full collection and buy online here.

Eat with your eyes - NZ's eateries are incredibly good looking


I've seen sooooo many great eatery interiors recently, I've sort of been collecting awesome images to share with you.

If you're one of Fancy's readers from somewhere other than NZ, you should totally come visit and patronise some of our stylish establishments. We're really nice folks and we do some of the best coffee in the world - and not just in Auckland, either.

LOVE the old-school signage and the big yellow roller door 
at the new-look Good One cafe ('coffee service and goods') 

The Dairy, in Auckland's Ponsonby. Says it's a 'Cheese & Beer Room' (yum) but clearly they 
also do ICECREAMCOOKIESANDWICHES!!! and Candy-floss Soda. 

Lucky Taco! Best Tacos in Auckland, and all from a reno'd van

Brand new Cold Brew from Atomic Roasters. Iced Coffee on my back porch, anyone? 
$15 and you can buy online here.

Chef Peter Gordon's The Sugar Club has swanky signage. 
(Not a nice word, Swanky. Like swish and wankery.)

All these images above were taken from that most-excellent online magazine, The Denizen

Federal Delicatessen - a quality tribute to the old Jewish Delis of New York. 
1930's colour palette, vernacular and decor, with jars of mustard and sour pickles lining the shelves. 

Milse is a fine-dining restaurant that only serves Desserts. 

Trestle Desks - with new bits


Please forgive me a bit of shameless husband promotion. 
His little venture, C O M P A N Y (&Things) is going well - seems people like a nice, simple trestle desk with shelves.

Well, he's just added some new free options - if you like, you can have a cable hole added (circle or triangle), and your desk top can have rounded corners. 

And here's the little dude C O M P A N Y &Things is named for - my little man/dog, Company. 

Our House - Lauren Butler of Needle & I


Oh, hi! Come inside! This is the home of Lauren Butler, her partner James, and their two year old daughter Thea. Lauren is not only a mum and awesome cook, she's the creator of the sweetest children's mobiles, garlands, cushions and other soft furnishings, under the name Needle & I. 
(Pics at the bottom of this post of lovely Needle & I things)

I love furniture with a history... pieces which you've had to hunt to find. The ones that fall into this category are by far the ones I love the most.  I made the yellow cushion from fabric designed by The Art Room; the Gorilla cushion is from Peppin Boutique; the next cushion I made from a Bird in a Bunny Suit tea-towel; Flowers and Fruit cushion is from Douglas & Bec.

This is a little close up from a corner of my lounge. Artwork by Kate Newby; crocheted tea pot stand from Buenos Aires.

Refurbished desk found on Trademe; stool found at flea market in Copenhagen. We have a bit of history with Copenhagen. James has family in the central city and we lived there together for a couple of years off and on while traveling around Europe.We visited again recently... taking a month off to hang out with family, revisit our favourite haunts and explore the inexhaustible new developments Copenhagen has underway. It's a very exciting city...

Close up of the desk. The cup artwork is by Kate Newby.

We found the X in a typography concept store in Copenhagen. It's cast concrete and it was a font designed exclusively for a local newspaper 'Berlingske'. They've just released it for public sale actually. Anyway, they made a few cast letters for an exhibition, they have a really interesting concept store as a front to their core business of typography design. This is the link if you're interested to have a look.

Needle&I cushion; zigzag cushion I made from a tea-towel; corn stool from the amazing Melbourne design store Third Drawer Down. I like a space to have lots of colour and personality and reflect the lives of those who dwell within it.

Corner of our bedroom - artwork in the background is by Ruth Thomas-Edmond

My studio desk was a side-of-the-road find, the lamp is from Macy Home and the hook rail is from Myflatpack

A corner of my studio - tin cowboys and indians found at vintage market in Brisbane; wooden crates from Trademe

Also in my studio - these ceramic men are from Flotsam & Jetsam.

This is a wall in my little girl Thea's room. I wanted to make a wall of all sorts of random but meaningful items in her room, from leftish to rightish: first cloud garland I made; personalised artwork gifted by friends on her birth by A Little Ink; mahjong tiles from my grandmother's set; superhero cross-stitch done by my Mum; photograph of Thea's grandmother and great-grandfather; bunny finger puppet I made while pregnant; book found at flea market in Buenos Aires... each turn of the page changes her outfit; key on wall from apartment we rented while living in Buenos Aires.

We went to Buenos Aires a little over four years ago. We'd always wanted to live in a city for a few months in which we didn't speak the mother tongue and Buenos Aires was, at that time at least, an affordable place to do this. I majored in Spanish at Uni so it made sense that at least one of us could get by with the basics! Plus it's a ridiculously enticing city, amazing energy to the place. I couldn't recommend it enough for anyone pondering the idea. So that's what we did. Three months spent living between the leafy suburb of Palermo and San Telmo, the oldest part of the city. Plus some time in between to explore nearby regions. We got to know the city inside out, took time to brush up on Spanish, write, drink Malbec and eat steak!
I pimped this truck a while back...it was my partner's truck from when he was a young 'un.  The other truck is another of James' and it's on the To Pimp list, but I kind of like the scrawls James did all those years ago so it might be safe for a while yet.

Children's cushions

Lauren makes colour-block cushions for adults too

eeee! Cute squidgy fingers!

Needle & I Garland

Upon the Upland Road


Road trips, poetry, prints and photo projects - four things I like a real lot.  NZ writer Libby Brickell has combined them all, with a series of original poems reproduced as limited edition silkscreens.

Titled Upon The Upland Road (a line taken from a James K Baxter poem), the series is inspired by travels around New Zealand - the North Island's East Coast in Summer and the South Island in Winter - the awe-inspiring and the mundane; connectedness and solitude.

She then returned to a few humble spots off the State Highway, clipping each of the prints and recording the process.   

There have been just 50 of each poem, printed by hand (silk screen process) with archival inks. The colours of the inks are inspired by a palette of colours found in the NZ landscape. The prints will be available at Libby's first solo exhibition - deets for that below - and on Libby's website.

If you're in the area this Friday night, you can hear Libby read her poetry, and view the prints for sale. 

15 November | 6:30pm-9:30pm | Mt Eden Village Centre 

Great photo effects to make your designs beautiful

Win - Studio Ceramics


Photography - Rachel Dobbs of Swift + Click, Styling - Alana Broadhead
Gold and pastel Wall Dots thanks to Good Regards

They're sort of the spiritual successor to NZ's iconic Crown Lynn. In fact, their mould maker started his career at Crown Lynn and is a true artisan when it comes to the craft of mould creation. 

Their line of ceramic Hotel Jugs (my faves) comes in a bunch of different sizes and pretty pastel colours, as do their Retro Lynn Swans.

Also, hey - wedding planny people and event-havers, you need to know that Studio Ceramics hire their ceramics out for events. Lovely amazing table centerpieces, yes please. 

Studio Ceramics is sold right around NZ (including online at Iko Iko) and they also have their own Factory Shop for seconds and end-of-line items. 

I have an art-deco Napier Vase and a soft pink Swan (both the Large size) to give away. 
Flick flack round off!

then pop back here and give me your name and email address below... easy!

Introducing a NEW Post Series! A DAY IN THE LIFE - with Yours Sincerely NZ Design Collective...


All photography by the amazing Swift & Click

After graduating, Sam, James and Dan of YS Collective decided to pool their resources to live and work together, putting an every-day tonne of effort and heart into the design of their contemporary furniture. They live and breathe their fledgling brand. Awesome people making very, very cool things.

Thanks to Fisher &  Paykel for their commitment to New Zealand design 
in sponsoring Fancy's Day in the Life series.

Good Goods from Good One


When I posted about the Good One cafe interior last week (linkypants) I didn't see theeeeeeeeese - Good One have collaborated with Studio Ceramics to create a limited edition Good One cup. The ceramic form is based on an old NZ Railways mug made by Crown Lynn, and they're made from fine white clay sourced from KeriKeri. They're $20 a pop - but even at that price I don't think they'll last long. Can I please have a set?

(PS: Their yellow pencils say 'Good Company' or 'Good One'. I would also like some of these kaypleasethanks)

The Citta Design Pop-Up Shop is looking G double-oh D GOOD.


Ooee, the Citta Design pop-up shop down at Auckland's Britomart is looking Gee double-oh Dee. 
Wooden floors with minty stripes win!

(Photos by Larnie Nicolson)

Great photo effects to make your designs beautiful