the shelter

The Shelter, recently opened in MacKelvie St, Ponsonby, and is the brain child of Vicki Taylor. The space has a large soaring ceilings, white walls, concrete floors and industrial metal fittings. When you walk into it, you feel like you could be anywhere international – Melbourne, London, New York… it appears this isn’t an unintentional feeling. I talked with Vicki about about her vision for the space and how it came to be…

Where did the idea for The Shelter first come from?

The Shelter idea has been bubbling away for many years… when I travel to buy my fabrics the highlight of my time is getting a few minutes in Dover Street Market in London, 10 Corso Como in Milan or Merci in Paris… and for a while I had been wondering if that kind of curative retail space would work in Auckland. When I found the location on Mackelvie St it just all seemed to fall in place… mind you it did need a lot of imagination when we first saw it!!

Who and what influenced the look and feel of the space?

The look and feel of the space itself is really an evolution of where my aesthetic has been heading. I have always loved working with blackened steel – it features in all my taylor stores. I started using it in Wellington in 2009 when we built wardrobes and a stunning steel cabinet, and it graduated on to walls and textured steel cabinetry. The perforated mesh we used when we refitted the taylor Newmarket store in May, so in The Shelter this evolved in to the more open mesh.

Our initial influences were all about mesh cages dividing spaces, but after living with that idea it just didn’t seem to work so well, so then I saw the new Hostem store (http://leparadox.com/en/design/hostem-artist-in-residence-toogood) and its cleanness appealed to me, although I had no centuries-old parquetry floors and plaster walls and framed exposed staircases to play with!

I consulted Pennant and Triumph (who won the retail category at the 2013 Interior Awards for their G-shock store last year) –  – to help work with me on The Shelter. I have never worked in such a large space and knowing how important the retail flow is, I felt I needed some expert help. They put up with my constant changes and thoughts…and introduced me to the indoor trees. I wanted moveable racks so we can run catwalks, then I designed the planters and so the building plan started to emerge. As The Shelter has been in progress for so many months, Justin from P&T became a great bouncing board for many of my “can this be done” ideas. We also had Damian from Urbanite – who did the gardens at Britomart- help with the courtyard planting. He did an amazing job.

Where are your favourite places to shop internationally as this obviously influenced you?

Normally the small little place around three corners down a small lane that is super hard to find! I love Italy as it has lots of little treasures tucked away. I couldn’t even tell you where they are.. but I could walk you there! I also love that even though I only turn up once a year the staff still recognise me and point me in the right direction to what I would like.

I do love Milan, although things are so spread out so you need to really research before you go….but finding the jewels are worth it. Working the Italian metro trains is an experience. I love people watching here, it gives you a look at the real life of Italians. From the pick-pockets working the crowd to the school kids laughing in groups. The Italians are so stylish and confident you can’t help but look at them.

I mentioned the big named concept stores earlier, I love visiting these stores as they usually are filled with stylish people and you just want to sit and watch and feel the atmosphere they generate. They so easily give you a snapshot of the style of the city. You can not even compare them between cities as they all have their own identity.

Are there any pieces that might have to be included in your own wardrobe?

Yes! Quite a few pieces have already made their way in to my wardrobe, just one from each designer and a long wish list of “still wants.” I must remember the customers must have first choice. I’m yet to decide which scent I want from the Mad et Len range… currently I just can’t decide. There are homewares I’m also coveting.

You have spoken about the collaborative feel of The Shelter…

The Shelter may have me as the driving force, but it is a shared space, one where we have combined like-minded design products across fashion, homewares, and food… The necessities of all our lives.

I am really enjoying the people and brands we have brought together, although we all have our own identity we all have a passion for doing things well and producing quality, style-driven products . I see The Shelter evolving and spreading its wings to allow other emerging designers and artists to showcase special pieces so they can build their own brands under The Shelter.

Currently, The Shelter brings together Taylor, ChildrenOf Vision (stocking Blue Blank, Bernard Willhelm, VPL, Otsu, Jimmy D, Daniel Palillo, Le Specs) , Foxes Den, Goss Lingerie, Barbara Gongini from Denmark, Mad et Len, Tokyo Bikes, Arielle de Pinto, Umasan, Smith Coffee and with new labels like Margiella’s MM6  arriving soon.

Photographs by Michelle Weir

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