Style

Through the glass

You can see all kinds of things inside this Terrarium

It was once the Kingsland Curiosity Shop – and half of it still is. Now named Terrarium, the design store continues to feature a range of delightful KCS wares. But now a collective of designers has taken up residence too.

Terrarium also houses terrariums – but that’s not where the store got its new name. “There were no terrariums when we started, it was more based on the idea of observing creatives at work – us,” says co-founder and Mydeerfox designer Lisa Li.

The store window explains the goings-on on the other side of the glass: “TERRARIUM [tuh-rair-ee-ium] place. A small enclosure for keeping and raising living local creatives and observing them under their natural conditions.”

But not everyone reads store windows, and Lisa and fellow co-founder Georgia Jay had a stream of people popping in looking for a terrarium of the literal kind. Fortuitous, then, that this is about the time the duo met Claire Steele, of House of Botanica – who happened to specialise in living décor. “The name works for me, big time,” Claire says.

The name hasn’t hurt the other brands in store, either. Besides Georgia Jay’s self-titled range of handbags and wallets, Lisa’s structured and assembled Mydeerfox accessories and Claire’s terrariums, Terrarium is also the busy point of sale for Hannah Mackinven’s Mackinven & Cosoy candles; Felicity Donaldson’s Wundaire ceramics; Justine Conolley’s Mini Camis; Charlotte Penman jewellery and prints from Playground by Amber Armitage. Sponsors Kokako coffee and NiceBlocks also keep hot chocolate, coffee and ice treats on hand.

But this isn’t your average drop-off-and-leave boutique. Members of the collective are all very involved, popping in and getting together regularly to discuss new launches, displays and events.

“We all have our own brands, businesses and websites, but this is a shared flagship store for us all,” Lisa says. “We all represent each other – we’re growing our own brands, but collectively.”

And there is always room for one more, if the fit is right. “If we like what someone is doing or there is a gap in what we are offering, we get them in,” Georgia says. Which leads us to ask, how does having two handbag designers running the store work out? “It’s fine,” says Lisa. “I do hard – as in structure – and she does soft.” Soft as in specialising in fur and skins. Georgia lets each unique material dictate the design, leading to a series of one-off pieces. Lisa, meanwhile, constructs her bags without using any sewing whatsoever – relying on design, assembling… and a bit of maths. “Both of my parents are civil engineers,” she laughs.

The girls aren’t sure what the future holds for Terrarium, but for now they’re happy going with the flow – in and out of their front door. “It’s all about engaging with people; we’re a little community,” Lisa says.

Clearly sensing his cue, the florist from next door walks in with a beautiful bouquet. “Thanks Nima,” says Georgia. “I’ll pop in and see you later.”

To see more from these designers visit terrarium.co.nz

Words Gena Tuffery     
Photography Matt Queree