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These are a few of my favourite things: Artist Evie Kemp

What’s your favourite…

Brand identity?

My mind has gone blank on this one. A local brand I always think has it nailed is Coffee Supreme – that red dot, the hand drawn elements and not being too serious about it. It seems kind of spot on and I still love it.


The Guggenheim Museum in New York – it’s faultless. The way the function leads the form and the form spotlights the function, all while being curvy and gorgeous, and to me the absolute optimum size for an art gallery.


It has to be a piece of furniture for me. Right now it’s the jelly pea sofa by India Mahdavi. 


I love David Shrigley in a weird love/super envy way. Perfectly imperfect, crazy wit, big heart, always makes me laugh. 

Clothing brand?

My Pinterest board would say Gucci and Valentino of the last few years – just luxe, eclectic, beautiful madness. More real-life I’m a bit of a Gorman girl and watch with fascination the way they have built their tribe. I keep thinking there have to be more brands like that! I’d love to see more of that style from new brands. I’ll design the fabrics! 

Use of design to change behaviour?

A project I’ve loved and have seen had a big impact is Sophie Gamand’s photographic series ‘Pitbull flower power’ – I can only imagine the change she’s made to so many dogs and people. 

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

I’ve just finished the ‘Abstract’ series on Netflix as I’m sure many of you have. I haven’t seen anything that inspirational in a long time – the Ilse Crawford was my absolute favourite and I’ve already watched it three times. 

Design project you’ve had a hand in?

My new book “Feel A Little” with my good friend Jenny Palmer. It’s been a totally new process and project but the way it’s already eliciting change and starting conversations in families is blowing my mind! 

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

Gah! Where do I start!? Right now I’m very much in love and awe of the Kinder MODERN rug collaboration with ceramicist Cody Holt. They’re brilliant and I love them. I really, really want to design some rugs so I’m also very envious. 

What first drew you to design?

Honestly, that I liked art but I wanted to 1) make a living from it and 2) believe it should be everywhere – which is what design is for me.

Where does inspiration come from for you?

I’m definitely always consuming ‘stuff’, I’m an Instagram and Pinterest addict. Every day I take my dogs for a good long walk and that’s when I find inspiration comes to me or clarifies.

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

Not really, but I probably should have. My only real thing is being original – always! 

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

I don’t so much have a ‘line’ of work these days – more of a blob, which encompasses a lot of side hustles. Things like my home, interior design and personal style are all hobbies that are creeping into what I describe as my ‘job’.

How has technology impacted on your work?

My work isn’t very techy, so obviously social media would be my big game changer. Instagram has changed things in a big way. I’m obsessed with it and get a lot of work through it, I also get a lot of inspiration and motivation from it, and on a more fun level I’m connected to lots of lovely people and it feels nice and personal.

How do you think it will impact on it in the future?

I wonder this and I’m not sure where it all leads – probably like that Black Mirror episode and I’m shunned from society for not having enough social media cred and my electric car runs out of juice.

Who are some of your design heroes?

As mentioned above Ilse Crawford is incredible and her insight and academic approach to a very ‘unacademic’ area of design (interiors) inspires me so much. Sandra Rhodes for just being fearlessly herself and utterly fantastic and rock and roll. David Hockney – always awesome but the way he embraced the whole iPad thing is just incredible and so groundbreaking on so many levels. 

Best design-related advice you ever received?

“When you make something no one hates, then no one will love it either,” or what I call the ‘Marmite’ philosophy. Basically, don’t design something that everyone just ‘likes’ or no one will be passionate about it. Which leads on to the most cliche but true advice: “Be yourself”. We work in an industry that is so rife with comparison and imitation – it’s so important to push past that and do your own thing. There will be criticism and it will feel more personal but it is worth it to be true to yourself and bring something new to the world.

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

Having the ability to make a difference in people’s lives and homes. It seems frivolous but I believe really strongly in the power of home!

How do you define New Zealand’s design culture?

Mostly, I see it as being pretty slick and defined, but I think we have a lot more freedom and rule breaking in our blood and I’d really love to see more of 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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