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These are a few of my favourite things: Ctrl Space’s Chris Stevens

What’s your favourite…

Brand identity?

I have to say Apple – despite the sad departure of their figurehead, the brand always manages to stir something inside everyone. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.


Mies van de Rohe’s Farnsworth House. I studied the Bauhaus movement and how it is so pivotal to all that is good design. As a pioneer of modernism, this house embodies this entire movement in my mind with its simplicity and elegance.


My Bang & Olufsen BeoCentre 9500 stereo. I’m a sucker for all things 90’s and all things Danish, so to me it has the perfect aesthetic without compromise on performance. It’s still a very high-end audio system 20 years on.


Terence Conran. Again, the 1990’s were my formative years and the Conran brand was everywhere in the UK. His restaurant Mezzo in Soho, London was my first epic restaurant experience and gave me a taste for hospitality design.

Clothing brand?

Bassike – Quality basics. Makes deciding what to wear each day easy.

Use of design to change behaviour?

All design should change behaviour.

Inspiring design-related book/podcast/TV show/website/magazine/story?

The Netflix series, Abstract, The Art Of Design. In particular, the episode on Ilse Crawford. She applies such an innovative approach to the design process and has also created an almost timeless aesthetic in the Soho House concepts over the years. In addition to that, it’s difficult to go past Simon Sinek’s seminal TED talk on the why of what we do. Watch both right now!

Design project you’ve had a hand in?

Plenty, but one that stands out is the Glass Goose. It was such a challenge of a site –  I think we check-measured some areas about 15 times. The final result is one we are really proud of and it was a real labour of love for the whole team.

Design project that isn’t yours, but you’re envious of?

Plenty, but in particular, areas of urban rejuvenation such as Britomart and City Works Depot.

What first drew you to design?

According to my mum, I was quite good at technical drawing from a very young age. I always loved to draw, and although I was not always as artistic as my peers, I had a keen eye for a specific aesthetic. In my mind, things should always just be so.

Where does inspiration come from for you?

Conversations with my team. We are constantly challenging each other and we have a very wide range of design aesthetics in the office. I love open thinking before the use of the online content to validate design decisions, which is also vital to the process.

Do you have a design ethos/motto you abide by in your work?

Challenge everything, and everything must have a reason.

Do you have any creative side hustles going on outside of your line of work? If so, what?

Surfing is my creative outlet. I have been surfing for over 25 years and it’s a continuous challenge. I think it occupies the same creative part of my brain. Oh, and furniture, I love designing furniture. Watch this space…

How has technology impacted on your work? How do you think it will impact on it in the future?

It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, visualising designs has become more intuitive though software and technology and enables so much more of the concept to be explained. On the other hand, this can lead to an expectation from a client of a final product based on a photo-real graphic image. I feel that this can inhibit creative opportunities along the way that might enhance the project at the designer’s discretion.

Who are some of your design heroes?

Local heroes really. Anyone prepared to fully invest their creative energy into this country and this city (Auckland). Characters such as Nat Cheshire & Rufus Knight are pioneers in this realm.

Best design-related advice you ever received?

Fake it until you make it – back yourself.

Dr Rudi’s – by Ctrl Space

What do you enjoy the most about working in this industry?

It’s dynamic, ever changing and fast paced. Design is more of a community than an industry – that’s enjoyable.

How do you define New Zealand’s design culture?

International – as simple as that.

Elly is Idealog's editor and resident dog enthusiast. She enjoys travelling, tea, good books, and writing about exciting ideas and cool entrepreneurs.

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