People & Places

An inside look at the design and boutique homeware store Studio Black

A decrepit storage shed on a main road in Riverhead has been lovingly restored by two creatives with big plans for their new studio

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An inside look at the boutique design and homeware store Studio Black

Hayley-Anne Brown and Paige Keene sure know how to create a buzz. For weeks, Riverhead locals in North-West Auckland were captivated by the slow transformation of the ramshackle old storage yard on the main road.

The former sawmill had been a garage for years – if you can call a structure without windows, doors or slabs a garage. With interior designer Hayley-Anne from Lou Brown Design and her partner’s sister Paige, a graphic designer and owner of Pudge Design textiles, at the helm, that dilapidated old garage didn’t stand a chance of just quietly disintegrating to the ground in its final years.

“For a long time the yard was a storage facility for machinery and parts so we get a lot of feedback about the incredible transformation,” says Hayley-Anne.

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For weeks, Hayley-Anne and Paige roped in extended family to help on site, cladding the interior ceiling with washed timber, painting, planting, spreading gravel and generally turning it into an eye-catcher rather than an eye-sore.

They saved that set of statement doors you see at the entry from the tip and lovingly restored them, giving them custom steel handles designed by Hayley-Anne and created by Gary Quigley, a welder and furniture maker who handily lives on site.

In fact, most of the furniture in the studio is designed by Hayley-Anne and made by Gary: the central Douglas Fir table, the macrocarpa shelving, the steel mesh storage unit and bench seats.

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The result of this hard toil and Kiwi can-do attitude is Studio Black – a calm, elegant space that is flexible in its use. The design studio and boutique homewares shop is a place for Hayley-Anne and Paige to run their individual businesses.

It’s the ideal setting to showcase the Pudge Design range of art and textile products, with their signature hand-drawn graphics, while homeware fans get to scour the shelves for hand-picked designer products sourced from some of Hayley-Anne and Paige’s favourite New Zealand designers and international brands.

Hayley-Anne says being in such a warm environment provides daily inspiration when it comes to her interior design work. Clients will often visit for consultations and to go through the massive range of interior samples she has collected. It’s also a fabulous space to run regular workshops for their local community.

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“We love that our quaint little store has become this creative hub of activity in the area, adding vibrancy into the community,” says Paige. They have a long list of ideas for 2017, too, along with some plans to expand Studio Black in size. The former garage may have another incarnation yet!

Words by: Debbie Harrison.  Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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