Five minutes with Yuka O'Shannessy ...

November 01 2019

Photography and words by Yasmine Ganley @anyonegirl
Styling by Darya Bing @daryabing

We have always taken cues from the design aesthetic and approaches of the Japanese culture — a practice that is minimal and intentional. Yuka O’Shannessy of craft & homeware store An Astute Assembly carries that wabi-sabi essence throughout everything she does. We visit the mother of two in her newly opened space on Ponsonby Road, and catch a glimpse into the way she delicately weaves her Japanese roots into her business and lifestyle.
 Larsen Dress

— What were the motivations for opening a physical space for AAA? And how have you found this experience? 
We carry many beautiful things that come from small production runs, the artisan’s consideration and dedication is stamped onto each product. They all embody great stories and philosophies behind each object that really need to be told and discussed in person. We run creative workshops that are relevant to our Japanese culture in some way, so to link up all of these things, we started thinking seriously about having our own space.
In recent years, we have also started to accumulate works from local artists. We get great pleasure from working so closely with the makers – there’s always wonderful inspiration and energy from them. Our aim is to install a roster of exhibitions in our space throughout the year to celebrate the artist’s work. We really want to encourage and support them to strive and lift their profile.

I didn’t have anything when I got here in my early 20s, I hardly spoke English, so I felt I lost my identity for a while. Having supportive and caring friends & family around me gave me my identity back and got me through those hard times. I’m very grateful for this, and the store is just my way of contributing some of my love and time in return. 
— Do you have any rituals in place to begin and finish your working day? 
One (or two) very strong coffees in the morning. We have an Italian coffee machine, La Pavoni, at home that makes damn good coffee. After sending the kids to school I go to Daily Daily for my next coffee where I get to read design magazines or socialise with the locals. Then when I get into store, I burn incense from Kyoto. It’s a quality of sandalwood that promotes a cleansing of the space and brings in good energy. To end my day, the ritual is to take the Noren down. It’s always nice to stay a while, too, and catch the stillness.  
 Porto Jacket and Penny Pant

— What silhouettes, fabrics and palette do you tend to gravitate towards in your personal wardrobe? 
I have my own silhouettes and rules that I like to follow. I love considering the balance between spaces: eg: between body and garment. I also like to combine a juxtaposition of elements, eg: thin and oversized, structured and draped, or bold and elegant. I like using natural fabrics, my favourite textile is probably a wool suiting, it holds the shape and structure well and is mostly wrinkle-free. It can feel very silky and breathable. I’ve started to wear more colour than in previous years too.
 Else Jacket and Niva Pant

— Does this translate into your home environment?
I love to include design components of both authentic and modern elements, that’s what I tend to adore. I can’t do it often, but it would be lovely to start a collection of art for my home.
— What is one item you are coveting at the moment?
Noguchi Isamu’s large and long lantern.

 Copenhagen Dress and Porto Jacket
— How do you and your two girls like to spend your days off together?
My girls are 10 & 12-years-old, which is such a lovely age. They have their own opinions and they like to share their stories with us. We do love pottering around the house together, but I tend to work if I stay home ( bad habit !) so to make our time a little special we go out to different parts of town and explore, either into nature or into the city — enjoying their company and making memories with them. If we stay home, we usually potter in the garden or cook nice meals together, following recipes (something that we can’t usually do in such a busy lifestyle) we also love having friends over for dinner partys. We are planning a family trip to Europe next year, which I’m really looking forward to.

Sabro Top and Skive Skirt / Porto Jacket and Penny Pant 

— Can you talk about any up coming events / exhibition you are hosting this year? 
Now that we have our own space, we can finally do what we’ve always been wanting to do… celebrate artists and their beautiful hand-crafted objects in person. In November, we have organised something extra special,"Japan Craft Now" a series of workshops hosted by a group of artisans from Japan. We look forward to working closely with these ambitious, dedicated artists.

 Annie Top and Vivi Skirt

Five minutes with Anna Miles ...

October 04 2019

Photography and words by Yasmine Ganley 
Styling by Darya Bing @daryabing

Championing the idea that ‘art is a very personal experience’, Anna Miles has gracefully created a position in the industry that reflects this belief. Situated on the second floor of her home, Anna Miles Gallery sits below the kitchen and beside her bedroom. It is a physical example of how integrated art is in Anna’s everyday life.


Representing a range of artists - from jewellers and craftspeople to photographers, painters and video artists, their vibrant archive of works have become, in a sense, part of the family, complimenting Anna’s own personally acquired collection of objects and paintings — an act Anna believes to be ‘a form of being alive’. This sentiment could also stand for the way in which it feels to be inside her home slash gallery. A sensational mashing of family life and artistic expression, and neither in competition.


We visit Anna in the hours before she opens her gallery for the day. Our conversation wanders through from her family history, making children’s costumes, and stories surrounding intention and process. It was a joy to gain a glimpse into the world (and jewellery boxes!) of one of Auckland’s most renowned gallery owners.


 Porto Jacket / Bowl-Vase-Vase, 2018 by Richard Stratton 

What were the motivations for moving your gallery into your home? And how have you found this experience? 

One day I sat down in my living room overlooking the oak trees in the Symonds St cemetery and realised I was living in an art district but commuting out of it (albeit on foot) to the gallery on High St. It made sense to make a change because it fitted with my principles. Art is a very personal experience, it is about belief — so I was not afraid to have the gallery in the building I live in.


Because of the close proximity of the two spaces, do you have any rituals in place to begin and finish your working day?

I carry the sandwich board out onto the street . . . My partner has what he calls an ‘affliction’, which means we share our house with his ever growing collection of pots, so I take a handmade mug across the street to Miller’s to pick up coffee, then the day begins.

Tell us about the current artwork on display, and why you have chosen these artists to share the space at one time. 

The cabinets at the gallery were originally made to show ceramics at the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin in 1925. This year I had the opportunity to acquire the second cabinet that had spent most of the last decade in an antique shop in Russell. To celebrate their reunion, I decided to fill them with thrilling new ceramics by two artists —Richard Stratton and Peter Hawkesby. Richard produced a group of elaborately constructed porcelain teapots that reflect his fascination with this object and its history as a connector of cultures. At the time Peter had been making a series of extraordinary ceramic ‘incinerators’ that are topped by halos with fluorescent stripes. They are flabbergastingly joyful objects — so seemed appropriate to the occasion. On the wall are drawings by Adrienne Vaughan. Like Peter’s work, they are filled with a palpable delight in mark-making. Their pleasure is immediate, but it is the result of a deep individual investigation of the possibilities of painting.


Aluminium Bangle by Roy Mason (from Fingers), Bowl-Vase-Vase, 2018 by Richard Stratton / Else Jacket and Niva Pant in Cinnamon

In what ways do you dispel the preconceived idea of an 'art dealer'? 

A dealer may sound like a pretty shady, intimidating character. I want it to be comfortable to visit my gallery and for people to feel welcome here. Appreciating art is a very creative activity that involves respect for the views of others. Collectors and appreciators are as diverse in their approaches as artists. Their non-homogeneity is inspiring.

I think we live in an unfortunately consumeristic world, however the decision to acquire art is not like any other consumer decision — it is a form of being alive. 

How do you enjoy your local surroundings of Upper Queen Street / K Road / Newton / the park etc?

You can smell the coffee roasting from the front door. On one side is the leafy wild space of the cemetery on the other is the social world. The part I know best is the village of small businesses. One of my sons has a job after school with Tony and Alison who run the Cross St Market, my younger one has been walking the dog of one of the other gallery owners. 


Spence Dress in Lush Green / Octavia Cook Cameos 2003 - and ‘Fro’ Brooch, 2017 / Craig McIntosh, Granite Bangle, 2017 and Warwick Freeman Argillite Ring 

Your jewellery collection is sublime. Can you please tell us the story behind a couple of the pieces you are wearing?  

Jewellery intrigues me because it is probably the most social art, but also the most private. I have learnt most of what I know from Octavia Cook whose work I have shown since the Gallery first opened. Ten years ago she was commissioned to make cameo portraits of ten year old twins. Recently when the twins turned twenty, their mother commissioned Octavia to make a second pair of portraits. The resulting four works are incredible heirlooms. 

In the photo I am wearing a bangle by Kobi Bosshard and a ring by Warwick Freeman. The ring was my mother’s. She wore it with the same Kobi bangle. Sometimes when I see my hands on the keyboard or steering wheel, I think about her. My mother was very interested in design. One of the things she taught us was — You should not save beautiful things for special occasions — You should use them every day. It makes me happy that her ring is part of what she would call my every day  ‘uniform’. I think she would also be pleased to know that I now show the work of her ring’s maker.

Can you talk about any exhibitions you are looking forward to hosting this year?

I have a feast of painting coming — Cat Fooks, Barbara Tuck, Johanna Pegler — rag rugs by the superlative bag maker, Vita Cochran, and extraordinary ceramics by Peter Hawkesby.




Five minutes with... Charlotte Penman

November 21 2018

Photography and words by Yasmine Ganley 

We have always believed that any artist will approach every daily errand with the same sentiment and care like that of their work. Driven by tactility and with an eye for sensory detailing, artist, mother and jeweller Charlotte Penman is no different, applying her artistic qualities to the running of her home and business. Her handmade pieces are created with integrity, concept, and natural healing.


Drei Dress Spot (available in store now)


We visit Charlotte at her beautiful home in Devonport. A house originally built by her Grandfather in the 50s (an architect of the Group Architects NZ), Charlotte now enjoys the space with her family to garden, create, and share meals.


In your own words, describe what you do:

I am a mother to my three children, Marcel (9) my only son, Florence (6) and Celeste (2). I am also a jewellery designer and artist. Through my work I design bespoke pieces with clients to signify a celebration, wedding or pivotal moment in their lives, and we create something very personal and sentimental for them to mark the occasion. 



Drei Dress Spot (available in store now)


Outside of working hours, what else are you passionate about? 

Mostly spending quality time with my partner and children, sourcing and cooking lovely nourishing foods for and with them, picnics, spending time in the forest or beaches, visiting markets. I really value my time at home listening to music and being creative. 

With the arrival of my third babe, it was pretty overwhelming adjusting to the virtually non-stop pace of life with a family of five, but since Celeste turned 2 something shifted, and I have somehow rediscovered the joy of adventure, having fun and letting go of expectations of myself. I recently visited Slipper Island and the next day climbed The Pinnacles in the Coromandel with two of my oldest friends sans children. One night away and a seven hour hike the next day. It was such a magical experience, a test of endurance, and a great reminder that in order to care for others well, we women must also take care of ourselves in body, mind and spirit. Sometimes that means stepping away from our role as mothers, partners and homemakers, even just for a few moments and getting in touch with our inner child, our inner joys and what makes us feel alive.




Luis Barragan is quoted as saying, "I don't divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one."What area of your home is your favourite and what do you enjoy doing here?  

At the moment, my bedroom, which is really a family space too, as there is usually at least one of our babes in bed each night. It is a calm space and feels relaxing and restorative, and the sky and neighbour’s beautiful billowy tree is reflected in the glass of a large photograph on my dresser, giving the feeling of being connected to the outside.


He also said, "I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery." What elements do you like to have around you at home?

Things I have collected on my travels that remind me of all the lives I have lived before becoming a mother, art that contains some form of magic. All our possessions have some special meaning or mark a moment in time, from crystals to glass and fabrics. The kitchen and garden are special places for me, I enjoy cooking to unwind from day-to-day life and have spent years collecting things to cook and eat with and from. I really value good quality pots and pans, ceramics, glassware, knives and cutlery. I feel that if we have beauty purposely incorporated in our daily lives and practical routines, it makes the world a much nicer place to be.



Porto Jacket and Mattie Pant Silverbeet (available in store from January) 


What/where is your favourite local gem to enjoy on the weekend? 

Smiths Bush is an amazing inner city forest on the North Shore, that I like to take the children to. All the beaches around home are amazing, but Cheltenham and Minihaha are our favourites for relaxing. Takapuna to Milford are great for walking with children.



Pedro Top TeaMiguel Jean


We love your collection of art. Which would be your most treasured piece?

Thank you! I It would be hard to just pick one, I love them all as they where all made by such talented and wonderful artists. I still adore the James Tolich photograph which has a very painterly element, people often mistake it for a still life painting. I also love my new Raukura Turei piece, her work is feminine, detailed and alluring. And Ophelia Mikkelson's beautiful work always makes me feel calm and at ease.



Gema Jumpsuit


Who/what do you look to for style inspiration? 

I love travelling, historical references, art and music.


Can you tell us why you were drawn to these Gregory pieces?

For their natural fabrics. I tend to gravitate toward block and earthy colours. I like interesting shapes, that are comfortable, and move well on the body.



Susana Shirt / Pilar Shorts


Who are some women you look up to? 

 My Grandmother, mother, my step mum, and the circle of women I am lucky enough to call my friends. I love the work of poet Nayyirah Waheed, and there are too many painters, writers, singers, activists and humanitarian woman throughout history to mention, that have inspired me.  

Do you have any rituals, disciplines, or self-care practises that help centre you?

Being in nature, aromatherapy, epsom salt baths and going to bed earlier than I used to. Wholesome, home-cooked meals that I eat with my family keep me centred. I also visit an extremely talented holistic facialist every few months, she is a trained craniosacral therapist, and I can literally feel the stress melting away from my face and body with her magical facials.


Five minutes with... Lucy Slight

October 05 2018

Photography and words by Yasmine Ganley @anyonegirl


We visit Lucy Slight, Home and Fashion features editor for Fashion Quarterly, Simply You and Your Home and Garden magazines, at her own home and garden on a Sunday morning.

With an eye for style and objects that are not only aesthetically pleasing, Lucy’s home is filled with treasures that hold a good story — much like the woman herself: Lucy is full of interesting discussion, hot tips and a sharp sense of humour.


Alvaro TopMalena Jean

In your own words, describe your job/role:
A content creator for Simply You, Fashion Quarterly and Your Home and Garden magazines.
Outside of work hours, what else are you passionate about?
Food, my cats, my husband (perhaps I should say my husband then my cats, in that order!) plus podcasts for commuting.



Alvaro Top /  Malena Jean 

With springtime on the way, what styling elements are you looking forward to exploring and wearing this year?
I’m looking forward to floating through summer in long cotton dresses - it's so great when it only takes one piece to make an outfit. Details like structured cuffs and ruffles are really catching my eye at the moment too.
Can you tell us why you were drawn to these Gregory pieces?
Those flared cuffs - what a dream! I adore this colour palette; natural tones with a hint of pink and colour that’s muted and subtle. The cut of all these pieces is so comfortable and relaxed - perfect for work and play.


La Paz Dress / Diaz Jacket 


What do you look to for style inspiration?
Instagram and Pinterest are my go-to for aspiration as well as inspiration. I love magazine and online editorials that take you inside other people’s homes and wardrobes. ‘Into The Gloss’ is my favourite.


The work of Mexican Architect Luis Barragán greatly inspired the Gregory SS’18 collection, Barragán is quoted as saying, "I don't divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one”. What area of your home is your favourite and what do you enjoy doing here?
My favourite area of our house is the lounge, where we relax after work, eat dinner, talk about the day. Second best would be out in the garden enjoying the morning sun.



Diaz Jacket / Diaz Jean

Barragán also said, "I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery." What elements do you like to have around you at home?
We have plants everywhere, I think they’re the greatest source of serenity and calm. I love filling the house with nature.


Do you have any rituals, disciplines, or self-care practices that you follow regularly?
I do reformer pilates each week, every time I go I’m reminded of how great it is both for working out and relaxing as it’s all based around your breath, like yoga. Sometimes when I get home from work I’ll do a quick 20 minute yoga. It’s the perfect way to wind down before making dinner.



Alba Shirt

What is something you recently discovered that you are very excited about?
The Goop podcast - I learn something new and useful with every episode. People have mixed feelings about Gwyneth Paltrow but I’m a big fan. The interviews they have with functional medicine doctors are particularly interesting, I’ve learnt so much about using food as medicine. I’ve just started adding Ashwagandha powder to my morning smoothies and I swear it puts me in such a good mood (a great tool to have when heading into a 45 minute morning commute).



Five minutes with… Darya Bing

August 30 2018

Photography by Cindy Leong

Meet Darya Bing, designer, artist, stylist and mother... among other talents.  With an eye for detail and a confident approach to style, Darya’s knack for building beautiful looks and wearable wardrobes sees her working magic in store with our customers in her one on one personal styling appointments.


Susana Shirt / Pueblo Pant

Susana Shirt / Pueblo Pant 

We took five with Darya answering our questions about life, style and what spring will be bringing for her.


How would you describe your personal style and how has this changed/developed over the years? 

My style has simplified over the years, making room for clean, simple silhouettes, the importance of fit, fabric and cut. I still have a longstanding love of vintage, of which I find ways to incorporate into my wardrobe.


Carlo Jacket / Carlo Pant Blue Check


What are the three most used items in your wardrobe?

Jeans, white T-shirt and sunglasses


You’re (among other things!) a personal stylist, what drew you to this work initially?

I was always involved in the arts. This work is yet another way to practice my love of aesthetics and my interest in translating fashion into personal style.


 Susana Shirt / Pueblo Pant 


What’s a common concern or query your customers have and how do you help them solve it?

Mostly feeling overwhelmed by trends, not knowing what to wear for their body type and wanting to learn how to look elegant while running a busy lifestyle (work, kids, sports etc.). Together we simplify things, change perception, understand the importance of fit, cut, fabric, colour theory. Most importantly, empower women to understand what they want, without the outside noise.


If there was one sneaky styling tip you’d love every woman to know, what would it be? 

Fashion doesn’t make you happy, empowered or sexy, your experiences and relationships do. In addition to that, simplify! When you look at the mirror, take something away instead of adding, the fabric, cut and fit will matter most.


What should no summer wardrobe be without?

An effortless dress and a trans-seasonal jacket.


 Gema Dress / Carlo Jacket


What are your favourite five pieces from the Gregory SS18 collection?

Carlo Jacket + Carlo Pant

Gema Jumpsuit

Gema Dress

Galvez Polo Jumper

Susana Top + Pueblo Pant


Your home is so beautiful and unique, are there any particular elements or objects in your home you love most?

I particularly love the afternoon sun streaming into the living room, our wild garden and when the house is full of friends and children, eating, drinking and spending time together. Objects are mostly a reflection of our experiences and sense of aesthetics.


Art Print and Ceramics by Gidon Bing 


What’s inspiring you right now?

I have been watching a lot of old Italian films lately, which I find wonderful - especially the men’s fashion, like Mastroianni. 


Complete this sentence: “This summer, you’ll find me….”

In the garden :-)

Email to enquire about our one-on-one personal styling appointments with Darya.



Five minutes with: Margie Cooney

May 18 2018

Styling by Margie Cooney
Photography by Holly Sarah Burgess

Palace Top / Suede Giulia Skirt

Margie Cooney is a young New Zealand creative and writing talent living in Auckland, New Zealand. By day, she writes for Denizen Magazine, but in her spare time she keeps busy working on freelance styling projects and establishing her own business as co-owner and creative director of jewellery label, Hera Saabi.
Here’s what we learned in five minutes with Margie.
You’re a writer by profession, but you’re also involved creatively with fashion and styling. How do you combine or separate the two and do you have any other creative outlets or passions?
It's a bit of a balancing act for sure. But when you love both it always feels a lot easier to make the two work simultaneously. I'm still figuring out how to make the two coexist, but I haven't nailed it yet. Luckily there can be some crossover between the writing and the fashion stuff so that makes it a bit easier. In terms of other creative outlets, I love film and the theatre — seeing a good piece of theatre is so transformative. Maybe one day I'll write a play. I also love reading but I need to make more time to do it.  

Carlos Coat / Emil Dress / Bloor Pant

How would you define your wardrobe style?
I feel that I am in a stage of my life where it's hard to pin that down. It feels like my style is still evolving. Although I err on the side of simplicity and I love using clothes in unexpected ways. Recently I've been wearing lots of my boyfriend's clothes... it's so funny how many women ask me where his stuff is from when I wear it. 

Winter is knocking. What will you be wearing this season and what are the rules for winter dressing you live by?
My tip would be to experiment. Winter graces us with the opportunity to layer, so there's more room to play with the colours and textures you usually wouldn't. Where summer is all about clean simplicity, winter can be a good time to try out some stuff. Don't be afraid to break the 'rules' — there really aren't any. 

Striped Retta Top / Miranda Pant / Marcella Trench
Paris Top / Bloor Pant / Decorum Top

We asked you to style four looks from our AW18 collection. What pieces were you immediately drawn to?
I was definitely drawn to the red tone that runs through the collection. That and the tailored trousers. The thing with this line up is that it's very versatile. Every piece looked like something I could easily have incorporated into my day-to-day look.  

How would you style these pieces differently for work or play?
If I'm honest, I probably dress the same on and off duty... although a special occasion will always garner some extra effort. The red pieces that I loved can be styled for any occasion, but I felt drawn toward the Decorum top for a more formal look... and the striped Retta top for a more casual look.
At the end of the day it totally comes down to personal preference but my advice would be, don't limit yourself by categorising clothing in terms of appropriateness. That casual top that you would never consider wearing with a formal outfit, could be just what that outfit needs. If fashion is teaching us anything at the moment it's that the boundaries between high and low are all but extinct. Mix things up!

Delphine Dress / Marcella Trench

What’s a recent discovery that’s keeping you busy right now?
Recently I've been listening to this guy Rosehardt on repeat, he's great. His album Songs In The Key of Solitude is on Spotify. I'm also currently getting through Zadie Smith's book of essays Feel Free, which I'm really enjoying.

Marcella Trench

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