Fine furniture: Ed Cruikshank on designing for Louis Vuitton and New Zealand as the 'Scandinavia of the South'

Luxury legend Louis Vuitton has broken with tradition in commissioning local designer Ed Cruikshank to make furniture for its Queenstown store. Plus: some of Cruikshank's other work.

It’s unquestioned that Louis Vuitton is one of the world’s premier luxury brands. The very name elicits envy - as does the work of Queenstown furniture designer Ed Cruikshank, who has no fewer than six pieces of his furniture on display at the brand’s store in the resort town after it sought him out.

“Their brief was for a mountain resort feel,” he explains. “Which is unusual, because most of their stores have about the same look. They wanted a local designer and a local look that showcased Queenstown.”

Cruikshank was personally commissioned by the luxury French fashion house to design bespoke furniture for its new Queenstown store, which opened last week in the Skyline Enterprises building on Marine Parade. He created two custom-built display tables made from 40,000-year-old kauri wood, as well as two unique mountain beech low tables. Two of his signature club chairs, upholstered in premium New Zealand leather from the North Island, also feature in the store. The assignment took six months from the initial concepts to installation.

“Louis Vuitton wanted an authentic local character so I chose materials that can only be found here in New Zealand,” he says. “I sourced the ancient kauri through native timber experts Tréology and designed minimal industrial steel bases to support them, allowing the incredibly rare and beautiful timber to be displayed as a work of art.”

The beech tables also have a special significance, he says. “The mountain beech tables have a specific local relevance and a pertinent link to the location as the site of the Louis Vuitton store was one of the first parts of Queenstown to be established,” he explains. “The mountain beech – which grew in the southern part of the South Island – would have begun its life at around the same time, about 150 years ago.”

The Louis Vuitton commission also comes amid changes for the designer, who closed his Arrowtown showroom earlier this year to focus on bespoke projects for clients throughout New Zealand and around the world from his private studio. “This new phase is all about conversation and collaboration,” he says. “I love working personally with my customers to design meaningful pieces of furniture that they will cherish for a lifetime.”

Cruikshank also says that, when it comes to furniture design, New Zealand is starting to get noticed on the global stage as the “Scandinavia of the South” for its unique design. “Globally, New Zealand is being noticed,” he says. “I think what New Zealand has got is uniqueness, and a confidence in doing its own thing. There’s a freshness.”

And as for what the international market is interested in when it comes to New Zealand furniture design? “There’s a real interest from outside, and inside, in authentic New Zealand stories.”

Some of Cruikshank's other work: