One of New Zealand’s leading interior design names, Ben Lewis plies his furniture and design trade here and around the globe. He and brother Hamish have stores in Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland. We caught up with Ben to chat about design and inspiration.
Why do you think you pursued the field of interior and furniture design?
My grandfather’s furniture business inspired me; he had real drive and a passion for it. I designed my first sofa aged 14, the first of many. I now design all of our Trenzseater furniture.
Back then, how did you envisage your own career?
I definitely had a vision to start a high-end furniture and interior design business in NZ, which I did at age 20.
Who are your clients?
Our clients often want the interiors of their home to be personalised, different to anyone else’s and have a sense of character which they can enjoy. They all enjoy the extra attention to detail we place within our designs that make each space and product unique.
I notice you offer European brands alongside your own designs. How would you describe your style?
Sophisticated elegance. I like intriguing layers of classic textures and quality materials. We achieve grand-scale, refined opulence; a timeless layered look.
What inspires your design process?
Anything from architecture to the signature detailing of classic furniture, to fashion, art and antiques. The characteristics of natural materials provoke thought and creativity too.
How important is the detail of a design?
Very. It’s the detail which is the unique aspect, making a scheme transcend ‘ordinary.’
There’s a reported Northern Hemisphere resurgence in the popularity of brown furniture in raw finishes, mixed with pieces from differing historic eras. Your take?
There’s a time and place for everything, so if the time and place selected is right for it…..that’s good.
Should interiors appear effortless?
It all depends on the client. Spaces should provoke visual satisfaction and enjoyment. Plus, they should exude the owner’s personality.
What is the easiest thing to get wrong when non-designers style their own rooms?
Proportion and scale can be tricky when you’re not used to dealing with these. Also, people often try too hard to be on-trend, when trends are transitory. Putting items together with all the layers needed is also difficult for some.
What are your favourite travel destinations?
Aitutaki Rarotonga, and in NZ, Queenstown.
What are your favourite restaurants, anywhere?
Bluebird, in Chelsea, London, and Woodpecker Hill in Auckland.