Come to the Collective

Patiently hand-folding each paper light she creates for her boutique business, Blacklight, Wellingtonian Juliet Black is the epitome of an artisan: there’s care and soulful simplicity in the origami pendants she makes. Juliet is just one of our growing Collective by Box family – an assembly of makers, craftspeople and artists whose products would slot beautifully into any Box™ home.
Curated by Lea France, who is part of our Ponsonby studio, and Box™ photographer Sophie Heyworth, the online platform, which launched a year ago, is a natural extension of our brand. As ‘the architect-builder’, Box™ shares the same ethos of these artisans who, by the very definition, are designers and makers in one.
“Every piece is bespoke – not mass produced, rather like a Box™ house,” explains Lea. She and Sophie have done the hard yards over the past 12 months visiting markets and pop-up design stores, and deep diving social-media platforms, to unearth the makers who have the right synergy to become part of the collective. “There’s so much talent out there that is not widely showcased,” says Lea.

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The Founding Idea

The founding idea was not only to celebrate Aotearoa designed-and-made and individual artistry, but to seek out those products that have an aesthetic relationship with the clean, modernist lines of our distinctive Box™ architecture. “When clients finish their houses, they often don’t want to go shopping in the high street for mass-produced furniture, lighting or homewares,” says Sophie. “They prefer something unique or special.”
There are already some 25 makers on board, so there’s plenty to serve a purpose and catch the eye. From bigger items such as the mid-century inspired American ash and oak tables by lowercase, made using traditional techniques from sustainably sourced timbers. To the smaller objects of beauty such as stoneware cups by Waiheke Ceramics and a set of colourful Lukeke ‘crushed’ tumblers, made by scrunching newspaper into the glass mould so that each organic form is individual.
Even art which melds into the theme gets its time to shine: there are colour-blocked, conceptual photographic prints of the local skatepark and Parnell pools, and original acrylic-on-canvas works by Box™ builder Jack Marshall that feature modern abstract forms which explore an urban context.

A two-way Conversation

Lea and Sophie see the collective as a two-way conversation. The online retail platform supports the craftspeople, and, in turn, Box™ clients and a wider audience get to own a piece that has its own story. “Since Covid, when the borders closed, importing became even more expensive. We’ve noticed that our clients are willing to invest more in locally grown products so they can have something unique, even if it means having to wait while that piece is handmade,” says Sophie.
The collection of items, all of which share a contemporary spin, tell a very specific local story. This is not the Kiwi cliché; they are made of the moment. “They are authentically connected to time and place,” says Lea, “yet at the same time we hope they will become pieces you hold onto forever and maybe pass down to your children.”
The pair are eager to add more local makers to the family, and there’s also the work-in-progress concept to offer downloadable furniture plans from the Box™ design team for built-in beds, shelving and the like. That’s the future but for now, they are happy to let the Collective grow organically.

“We really want to be able to support local makers and help our clients find the right piece for
their new homes,” says Lea. “Let’s see where it takes us.”

Shop at the Collective

By Box
23/05/2024

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