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New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1985

Cacophony of texture and colour

page 65

Cacophony of texture and colour

left to right — Hugh Mullane, John Hughes, Colin Martin.

left to right — Hugh Mullane, John Hughes, Colin Martin.

On the slopes of Grafton Road is a small commercial building with the pleasing proportions of a house. In it are the offices of Martin Hughes Associates, interior designers. The outside of the building is attractively painted and the ramped entrance is bordered by a garden of herbs.

The indoor spaces are not large but the shapes are interesting and make good use of natural lighting. These spaces are in many ways simply anonymous background for the art and craft of interior design. The furniture and art works are carefully chosen and reflect both the tastes of the individual partners and the skill of placing possibly incongruous pieces side by side. Here there are Korean chests, New Zealand sculpture and paintings, Chinese pots and colourful Kelim rugs. The result is an attractive cacophony of texture and colour.

The large conference room is comfortable and a bold statement of ability and intent. In many ways the public offices of this practice are a stage, a place where the props can be changed and a whole new image evoked. With the props removed there is simply a pleasant, grey space and the anticipation of potential beauty and style.

Much time was spent looking for premises such as these, for the physical needs of the practice had been well defined. It was important that the office be located on the periphery of the city rather than in the city centre. This peripheral placement gives them accessibility and an appeal to a wider range of clients than a central city location would allow.

The appeal of their work is wide, attracting a diverse clientele. Commercial buildings, office and retail space, the hospitality industry and the private home have been a part of the past success of the last 15 years. Today they are finding that a large proportion of their work is coming from the world of commerce and industry.

"It is the coming of age of interior design," said Hugh Mullane, the third partner in the firm. "Designers have made their niche and are here to stay."

A further example of the coming of age is expressed by the response of architects, he says, for now they want the interiors as well as the buildings!

Although the firm is keen to use New Zealand products and New Zealand art in its work they have found that taste, style and design have in many respects become internationalised. An idea that may appear to be a colloquial response may well turn up in a similar form in a home in New York, or an office in London. The world of design is becoming smaller.

Martin Hughes Interiors is a practice which has vibrance. The overwhelming feeling there, is that of confident expertise.