Marta & Douglas, Wellington
Words by Yasmine Ganley
Images by Greta van der Star
Perched up high on the sheltered side of the hill in Brooklyn, Wellington, textile designer Marta Buda and art director Douglas John's home instantly greeted us with a sense of calm, enabling a gentler pace for our afternoon. Within their space, filled with natural light and tactile furnishings, one starts to slow down, encouraged to pause and take notice of the way in which all of the home's elements are working both functionally and holistically for the people it serves. Staying for the weekend, we were spoilt to a tour of the best galleries in Wellington and homemade pasta with garden-fresh vegetables; We slept in a comfortable bed with a soft bedding and even softer pillows, woke up to perfectly brewed coffee and fresh sourdough bread; Travel stories and creative gossip were exchanged, while their six-year-old daughter Anouk crafted picture books and pressed flowers; Traded arts pieces with other local makers, offered up tales of sublime sounding characters and the discovery of their works. And through all of these moments, we gained insight and understanding to the way in which this generous family operates -- quietly yet quickly, and with absolute intent.
How did you two meet?
Marta: My flat-mate needed some jeans and we went to the store that Doug was working at. We went for our first date a week later and have been together since.
How would you each describe what you do?
Doug: I’m a graphic designer at a coffee company; the majority of my work is in brand identity and strategy. I also take on selected freelance jobs.[M] I am a textile maker and designer. I work freelance as a surface pattern designer, and I also hand weave bags and other items.
What was the last thing you saw/read/experienced that inspired you?[D] We recently spent some time in the Hawkes Bay. While there we visited potter Bruce Martin and talked to him about his traditional Japanese anagama kiln. The sparse grounds dotted with trees, his beautiful John Scott designed home and studio, the kilns Bruce and his late wife Estelle built, and of course Bruce himself, made for an inspiring visit. I love hearing about someone’s dedication to a craft and the work that goes into perfecting an art form. To see him and learn of his story was amazing.
[M] I was lucky enough to see the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch perform Café Müller and the Rite of Spring during the arts festival. The performance was like watching a surrealist film play out live in front of you, every movement was perfectly visually balanced and the choreography was still as contemporary and relevant as when these dances were first performed over 30 years ago. Watching the strength and complete physical and mental presence of the dancers was spell binding. The costumes were beautiful, there were moments when I felt emotionally violated by the scenes in front of me but I also felt completely alive as I walked away from watching it.
What are your favourite pieces or features in your home?[D] – Our dining table is a favourite for me. It came to us by chance through some friends and has become very much the central point for our family. We meet and eat together here and learn about each other’s days. This is often where we work, read and where Anouk carries out her crafts and stories.
[M] There are lots of favourite pieces of furniture in our house that I treasure. Our bedroom side tables were made for us by a very dear friend; Dan Mitchener. I love seeing them in our room. Anouk’s bed was my bed when I was a child, and it was my stepfather’s before that – his father made beds for all his children. It’s a lovely simple wooden bed that I hope can continue to be passed down. A special piece is the blue “Off Round” mirror Doug gifted to me, made by another good friend of ours Sabine Marcelis.
You were an integral part of the look and feel of the renovation of your home, what were some of the key elements you wanted to create during this process? And how do you enjoy these today?[D] Having an open plan living area helped to create a space for the whole family, we are able to be in the kitchen while Anouk plays in the same room, and this is especially great while she is younger and needs us to be present for her.
[M] Yes, we are very lucky that my parents are our landlords; together with them we wanted to make a warm and comfortable home as a family. The house is quite small so we wanted to open up the living spaces. Light is very important to us and by removing some walls and adding a skylight to the living/kitchen space we now enjoy having good natural light throughout the day.
Marta, as you weave and work from home, what aspects are important for you in your working environment?
M] Again, sunlight is very important to my wellbeing and focus. I am quite easily distracted by nature so I like to have a calm and clean environment. Our middle room which is our studio/study/spare room often gets messy when I am rushed with deadlines so I usually move myself to where there is less mess and spend a lot of time working at our dining table.
How do you like to spend your weekends Wellington?[D] We generally always pay a trip to Customs for a coffee and see our friend Tim. If I can manage to spend some time in the garden I’m always better for it, even if it’s 15 minutes of weeding. I always some work to do too.
[M] We will also try to visit a gallery too but often we have to juggle children’s birthday parties, trips to the park or playground and a little bit of work in too. Doug is much better at just getting into the garden; I am too distracted by inside chores. Featured: IN BED linen duvet set in White
You are both experts in the kitchen, making everything from scratch! What would be some of your pantry/kitchen essentials, from ingredients to equipment to tableware?[D] I wouldn’t say experts, but definitely inspired of late. As long as you have flour, you’ll pretty much be ok. I think nice things to serve on make for a better experience. I have been enjoying making fresh pasta; we use an imperia pasta maker for this. It is quite time consuming but it engages Anouk in the kitchen.
[M] We have basic herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, mint, chives, dill) and some fruit and veges in the garden, we buy bulk organic flours, rice etc. and free-range organic eggs from a friend. Things we usually have in the kitchen are canned tomatoes and good NZ extra virgin olive oil, coffee, avocadoes and (if possible) lemons. In regards to equipment; sharp knifes, wooden chopping boards, a food processor, cast iron pans, a good peeler, and our chemex is what we use regularly. We have some stoneware tableware by New Zealand potter Paul Melser, I still get as much joy from using it now as when we first bought it.
What do you wish you had more of?[D] Time with my family. Time to garden. Time to act on ideas.
M] Lemons on our lemon tree and flowers in the garden. There are bits and pieces I would like for our house, like a front door mat or a large living room rug but at the same time I am happy without these things too, what I would like more is to start less sentences with “I want” – want has an insatiable appetite.
What do you wish you had less of?
[M] I feel like we regularly go through our belongings and no matter how hard we try to sort out our things we continue to have so many boxes hidden away in our cupboards and attic. I would like to have less attachment to objects and less mess in storage.
What is coming up for both of you this year that you are excited about?
[D] I’m excited to work on a new project with Marta that has been simmering away for a while now. I’m also working on some new and existing freelance design projects which I really love doing. I get great enjoyment from helping other people build their brands.
[M] I have a couple of new stores I will be stocking my bags at and am looking forward to making new colourways in my bags for them. I have been in talks with a couple of New Zealand artists and hopefully will have some collaboration to share this year. I’m excited to continue my freelance relationship with both Penny Sage and Twenty Seven Names. Lastly I have a small side project with Doug that will engage some very special makers.
Read more about Marta HERE and more about Doug HERE
To see & read more about inspiring people and their homes check out our other features HERE