Searching for up-and-coming neighborhoods is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. Neighborhoods that are not on the tourist maps or on glossy postcards; this is where the great brick and mortar stores are found. These stores add the character and fabric to the city and neighborhoods; where you won’t find a Starbucks or drive-through restaurant. This is where the struggling artist lives, works and true creativity reside. This month took me to Auckland New Zealand where I discovered Ponsonby.
Ponsonby is a trendy inter-city suburb full of chic shops, funky fashion boutiques, art galleries, and tasty cafés. The main road is lined with countless architecturally detailed buildings, steep in character. I wandered into several home décor stores and vintage boutiques; my favorite being Flotsam and Jetsam: a two story building full of history and soul. From vintage signs to old milk bottles everything old becomes new again. Next door is Real Time a retro antique fun shop, where Dorothy’s ruby slippers have nothing on these orange button shoes. Down the block Koko Classics, purveyors of industrial inspired furniture sell everything from cool tracker seat stools to industrial coffee tables.
After a morning full of creativity shopping, I stopped in at Ponsonby Central Market. A mix use development that houses a farmer’s market, shops and eateries. I grabbed a couple sinful pasties at Bread and Butter Bakery where old pantry goods were turned into cool light pendants and the railing was designed as a rolling pin. As the day came to a close, I left feeling inspired and reenergized with new ideas for a well-designed life.
At an early age I set out to see the world, and while having already visited over 50 countries, I feel that my journey is just beginning. For me, travel and design go hand in hand. Whether seeking out great shops in trendy neighborhoods or exploring the architectural environment around me, discovering design inspiration everywhere I go enriches me to transform a client’s needs and desires into into their dream home.
Mike Howard is an award-winning designer specializing in kitchens, baths and small space design.