Some of New Zealand’s best designers have a new shopfront in Paris, thanks to the Moaroom. The store, run by expat New Zealander Roderick Fry and his French partner, Laurence Varga, has just moved from a very chic former garage to a new spot much more visible to passers-by. Here, Roderick Fry tells us about the move.
HOME What made you want to move?
Roderick Fry It was time to have better public visibility with the collection as a ‘collection’. We have a really full New Zealand design catalogue now, which between David Trubridge’s and my own work, has items that have been gaining respect and volume in the market for between five and 10 years – but also, since we started working with Resident [Simon James’ furniture brand], a lot of variation and new items too. Initially, to launch our designers we purposely worked with other shops in Paris who put the collections beside those of all of the world’s best. But with David’s work now in the Pompidou Centre, and the fact that those big design shops have limits and can’t always promise visibility to all their brands – the time had come to curate our own permanent presentation.
The space we were in, an old garage near Republique, was a fantastic working environment, and a nice big space to show work to architects – but because it didn’t have a street window we largely missed out on any word of mouth, and journalists were reticent to suggest the space to their readers who might have had trouble finding us. We also found that most architects would like to see a new collection just by dropping by when they have time rather than phoning and organizing a specific presentation time.
HOME Where is your new space, and what’s good about it?
Roderick Fry It’s five minutes’ walk east of the Marais, just on the other side of the Bastille. The area is best known for the Marché d’Aligre, which is 100 metres from the shop. It’s arguably Paris’s best food market, which in the weekends is a great place to do one’s food shopping, but also have a coffee and listen to some street music. We sell a lot to people in the area, but people from completely the other side of Paris are quite happy to visit us as they know they’ll also find a good café and do some good window shopping around us. For Paris’s interior architects it’s been the hub of furniture making and design since before Cook made his way to New Zealand – and although the majority of workshops have moved out of the area their textile suppliers and varnish experts are still here. We’re one of half a dozen contemporary design projects revitalising the fine furniture tradition in the area.
HOME Does New Zealand design have a particular appeal in France, or does it depend on the quality of the individual designers?
Roderick Fry It is very much about the individual designers – and now that there are five of us that are doing well in Europe, finding an umbrella ‘New Zealand design style’ is becoming more difficult. The only link that’s left perhaps is that the work is unpretentious, and manages to be original and simple at the same time – and fortunately these are values which are both easily associated with what French people think of New Zealand, as well as being what they are now striving for in their own living environments.
HOME What are you working on yourself at the moment?
Roderick Fry Our creative season is actually very short – there are about four weeks of the year at the beginning of summer when our clients don’t want to hear from us that I can work on my own collection. Having said that I have my notebook with me all year round, and last summer we actually managed to knock out two new prototypes for tables, a desk and a chair which we’re still testing. Hopefully by the end of this summer we’ll have finished the prototypes for a set of kitchen accessories and a ‘computer-age’ wooden toy – as we prepare the launch of last summer’s designs.
7, rue Emilio Castelar