There’s nothing in Tessuti director Ali McIntosh’s Auckland apartment that doesn’t feel like her.
For more than a decade, store owner Ali McIntosh has been seeking, spotting, sourcing and selling homeware treats and treasures for Tessuti, the Ponsonby institution that’s a longtime go-to of those in the know. She lives in an apartment not far from her store.
Ali, how do you like small-space living? Did you have to sacrifice much from your previous home when you moved in? I moved here from a slightly larger apartment, so the transition has been gradual. I did have to sacrifice a few things, but I’ve kept all of my favourite pieces of furniture. It makes you look hard at what you love and, of course, need.
What do you enjoy most about living here? This apartment doesn’t have an outdoor area, so the park next door is magic – it’s like a big, beautiful backyard. I love the New York vibe this home has, especially the brick wall that runs the length of the living, kitchen and dining areas, and being part of the vibrant community right outside is fun too.
How would you describe your interior style? It’s modest, refined and elegant. I collect objects and pieces that inspire me and feel authentic. I think creating a stylish home is about the pleasure of discovery and crafting moments of grace. At Tessuti, we gather together everything we love, and help others do the same for themselves; the store is a very personalised space, and a real reflection of what we’d like to live with ourselves. We have empathy for those we serve, and try to make something worth talking about and that people would miss if we were gone. Ethical business practices are something I grew up with, and a subject close to my heart, as is giving back to the community that supports you.
How do you select designers and products to stock? Tessuti has been trading for 28 years – I’ve owned it for eight, and managed it for four prior to that – and has a lot of long-standing relationships with suppliers. We tend to gravitate towards owner-operated businesses, so we can have a direct relationship with the designers and makers, both here and overseas.
You’ve carved out an area of your front room for a home office – do you often work from here? Yes – I love having a dedicated office space where I can do admin and work on the website undisturbed. I make sure I always have flowers or foliage on the desk, and items on the shelves that are simple and calming.
My desk is long enough for two people to work at when required, but if I want to have a planning session and creative time, I tend to do it away from here.
Do you have to resist buying things for yourself when you’re sourcing for the shop? All the time, although living in a small space means there’s not a lot of room for more, so I buy things for the store instead. Except jewellery – there’s always room for that.
What are some of your most treasured items that have come home from work with you? My Vase d’Avril by Tsé & Tsé, Mantis lamp by Bernard Schottlander, Case Study planter by Modernica, rugs by Nodi, cushions and throws by Missoni, Dome pendant and glasses by Monmouth Glass Studio, and Wundaire and Rachel Carley ceramics, because I love to cook and entertain.
I’m always buying candles and perfume, and some recent acquisitions I’m enjoying are my Astier de Villatte incense and ceramics. Oh dear, it sounds bad – but I’ve been with the store for a long time!
What’s the secret to a perennially chic interior? Life is enriched by the small, good decisions we make every day, and by consuming with the very same care that things were created with – so make choices that make sense in your head and sit well in your heart. Select items that you connect to, with stories you love. To quote Rosita Missoni, “When you have confidence in the things you love, everything looks right together.”