Since opening in 2014, we have tried to showcase the people, processes and ideas behind the products we sell. Late last year we decided it was time to take this a step further by refining our website. We wanted to tell more stories from the designers we stock and showcase creatives from the wider community.
 
To achieve this vision, we approached graphic designer Natasha Mead whose work we have admired from afar for many years. Natasha's clean, considered design aesthetic and 'less is more' approach has seen her design for an impressive list of clients

Now that our new website is live, we thought it was time to go behind the scenes of our digital makeover. Here we talk to Natasha about design, inspiration and recent travels. 

Can you tell us a little about your background and why you became a designer?
Natasha: As a kid I was obsessed with pixel art, you know, like Pokemon on the old gameboy. At about 10 I begged my parents for my own computer, where I discovered an online pixel art forum and started creating my own work - I actually used to draw it in MS Paint. I loved researching different styles, playing with colours and making website layouts. It sounds silly but at the time I didn't realise this was part of an existing practice, I just saw it as a nerdy hobby.

It wasn't until much later, when I was about a year into university (doing a generalist creative degree) that I realised those parts I had loved so much were principals of design, so I transferred. My tastes have developed somewhat in the interim, although I'll always have a soft spot for pixel art.

What is your approach to design? What influences your aesthetic?
I usually try to start with words. It's so easy to get carried away with visuals without assessing what the concept is or who the work is for. Having those to continually refer back to and measure the process by is helpful. Refine, refine, refine... then it comes down to gut instinct for the final selection. Does it feel right? If not, keep going.

Inevitably I spend a lot of time online so it can become the de facto research space, but I try to find influences everywhere, friends work from other disciplines, art, antique stores (great packaging to be found there), the more varied the better. But when it's time to retreat from the world and focus on the work I'll always come back to basics - swiss typography and the masters of the grid (de Stijl, Bauhaus, Tschichold etc).

You recently went on a trip to the US. Were there any particular places or moments that left a lasting impression?
I really liked LA. It has such an interesting history and it's so much a part of the fabric of the city. There's a really deep nostalgia there, that shines through in the mix of both historic and modern hand drawn typography. I guess it recalls a romanticised era of craftsmanship over chains. You just don't get that in the same way in NZ, we're such a young country so a lot of our design history is still steeped in cultural cringe.

I also especially enjoyed road tripping though the Arizona desert, you really feel like the last people on earth. I also couldn't shut up about the colour palette which drove my partner crazy... it's hard not to see the world through the lens of your work. 

We love your publication The Periodic Journal, can you tell us about the ethos behind it? 
Thank you! It's made with a couple freelance friends, Yasmine Ganely and Greta van der Star, because we wanted to explore the makers in Auckland who have been part of this wave of small businesses and local craft here. It's been such an interesting period to follow and document. Now those ideas have become a bit more established we're looking at exploring some other projects for  The Periodic.
 
Where are some of your favourite places in New Zealand?

Wellington, my home town, for it's beautiful hills, slow atmosphere and endless cafes. A perfect day is going to the city gallery, eating lunch at Nikau, then wandering around Cuba St until ready for your next coffee. 

Auckland city has a lot to offer but there's so much said about it already, so I will instead recommend how well it's placed for weekend getaways. Road trips up to the Northern beaches or out West to the Waitakere Ranges. Or even all the way down to New Plymouth via the excellently named 'Surf Highway 45'.. ideal op shopping and the Len Lye centre there is one of the best galleries in the country.

 

All images courtesy of Natasha Mead.

To see more, visit Natasha's beautiful Instagram.