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Meet this resourceful furniture designer turning trash into treasure

The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” certainly rings true for Paul Roest from Industrial Design NZ. Story by Debbie Harrison


A man with a plan

You’ve probably seen some of Paul Roest’s wood creations without realising it. He’s crafted tables, chairs, bar leaners, entertainment units, shelving, bedside tables and office furniture for many supermarkets, cafes, retail stores, beauty salons and individual clients. He’s built conference tables for SkyCity, lunchroom cafe-style tables for Air NZ and stunning rustic store counters for franchise Habitual Fix. That chunky table John Campbell records his Checkpoint show from? Yep, that was Paul, too.


Paul Roest’s business was unwittingly started by an old pallet. Well, that and Instagram, that glorious rabbit-hole of design and inspiration. Paul spied the pallet at his dad’s farm and, spurred on by other creations he’d seen on his overseas travels and during nights scrolling social media, he decided he could do something with it. He whipped up a coffee table, which elicited so many oohs and aahs from visiting friends that he made another one and chucked it on Trade Me. And another one. And another one.

Fast forward four years and he now employs three full-time employees and more part-timers in his Industrial Design NZ business, working more than full time to create fit-outs and furniture for awesome New Zealand businesses that want something a bit different with a history behind it. Paul’s moved on from pallets, instead using reclaimed timber such as Oregon and rimu, salvaged from renos, demos or the backs of people’s farms.


“I’ve always loved the idea of making a product out of something that essentially has no value, then turning it into something that does,” he says. His master’s in environmental science gave him a real awareness of how much material goes to landfill and the desire to repurpose materials.

It’s so cool

that it gets to have a new life as a piece of furniture

“You see an old crappy pile of timber filled with nails sitting outside, but when you strip it back there is such beauty within. I love that every nail hole and dent tells a story of its past life. When pulling out nails that are sometimes 60-80 years old, I wonder to myself, who hit that nail in with a hammer all that time ago and are they still alive now? It’s so cool that it gets to have a new life as a piece of furniture.”

He’s also big on upcycling, searching for old furniture that was hand-built with solid wood and carpentry skills, complete with dove-tailed joints, which he can strip back and give new life to with the right paint or stain. Looking around Paul’s Kaukapakapa home, northwest of Auckland, which he shares with wife Silvana, 33, and one-year-old daughter Mila, it’s blatantly obvious he’s a keen DIYer with a penchant for wood.


The huge coffee table, vinyl music station, firewood box, round occasional table, the upcycled blue cabinet in the dining room, the pretty set of drawers in Mila’s bedroom (lovingly brought back to life with a serious sand and paint job) – everywhere you look, there’s a unique piece of furniture which Paul has toiled over.

It’s a bit

of an addiction

“I think more than 80 percent of the furniture in my house has either been completely built from scratch or upcycled by me. It’s a bit of an addiction,” he laughs.

There’s plenty to fuel that addiction on the horizon: as well as a steady stream of work through Industrial Design NZ, Paul and Silvana are about to start building their dream home. In typical DIY style, Paul will be making all the bathroom vanities, wooden feature walls, flooring, shelving, internal barn doors, front door, indoor and outdoor dining tables and outdoor seating. Silvana’s only request is for a huge set of custom-made shelving in the library/music room. Having been collecting items for the new-build for the past five years and with an Instagram feed full of inspiration, Paul’s ready for it.

Industrial Design NZ

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

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