Southern Stories - Steve Rosling

Southern Stories is a series of interviews with designers from the South Island about what it is like to be a creative or run a design-led business there. This week we talked to Steve Rosling from Element 17 an interiors company specialising in commercial business fit-outs and bespoke solutions for hospitality and retail providers.

Q: Is there something about being a creative in the South Island that you feel is entirely unique?
Steve: It's great being a southern island based-designer. We do get challenges that a lot of businesses based in a major city up north or offshore may think that we are too remote to understand. Being based here, though, gives us the opportunity to take creative cues from our surroundings and remoteness... These can help drive interior finishes and palettes.

You have had a chance to do fit-outs for several public spaces in post-quake Christchurch, were you and your clients seeking to create something new in the city, to bring back what was already familiar for residents there, or something else?
Steve: I think the drive for the majority of my clients was to bring something new to the city. There were some pretty run down places that it was great to see the back of. That allowed so much creativity to be born. Saying that though, the familiarity of the use of those spaces was something that desperately needed to come back. For some of those café spaces we created, the familiarity of getting a coffee in the same spot and the social aspect of meeting was paramount.

My clients are generally really receptive to doing something out of the box, like exploring new ways of doing things and being part of the narrative of the new city of Christchurch. This is a truly unique opportunity that few people have – being a part of rebuilding a city is pretty cool for a designer, and for our clients.

Do you think Christchurch has a specific commercial interior look or feel that differs from any other city in NZ?
Christchurch is just as metropolitan as any other city in the world. We don’t have a specific look for commercial interiors as so many national and international designers have created interiors for clients in the city. We definitely critique pretty hard here as we have had a slew of new buildings, spaces and interiors for the last decade. Keeping it local has been a big push for the design fraternity and I do think if we have the opportunity to use local suppliers or get something manufactured or made here we prefer to take that option.

DINZ Interviews

When the opportunity arises, DINZ interviews leading designers from here and overseas. These interviews seek to dig beneath the surface to address the common and uncommon challenges, problems and opportunities the design community faces.