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Scott Fitzsimons, multi-disciplinary Design Director

A background in industrial and furniture design led Scott Fitzsimons to start his own multi-disciplinary design studio, which sees him creating original, purposeful objects and spaces for a range of brands across Aotearoa. We collaborated with Scott in 2017 to design our glass and rPET vessels – which have become an iconic element to our signature Ashley & Co. aesthetic.

We recently caught up with Scott to chat about all things design; below he shares an insight into his creative process, which designers he currently loves and he reveals his favourite way to spend a weekend.

Please introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to start the multi-disciplinary Scott Fitzsimons Studio?

I actually ended up in design almost by mistake. I originally set out to study Architecture, but moved into Industrial Design after my lecturer suggested it might be a better fit. I hadn’t even heard of Industrial Design at that point.

After a fairly convoluted career path, working for various different companies both here in New Zealand and overseas, I eventually decided to set up my own studio about 6 years ago. Initially, I was working more or less as a contract designer for other companies, but over the years the focus has shifted towards more and more design collaborations with different brands and creative studios. The primary focus is now largely on designing and developing new products for the built environment, from surfaces, to furniture, lighting and objects.

Nowadays, the drive behind the studio is to create products that enrich people's lives and make a truly positive impact.

You designed our unique Ashley & Co. glass and rPET vessels that blends beauty with form and functionality. Can you share with us how you approached this design?

The goal was always to produce a series of vessels for Ashley & Co. that would remain relevant for many years. Drawing inspiration from traditional apothecary forms as a starting point, we developed a silhouette that is calm and quiet in nature, yet still unique, ensuring that the beautiful Ashley & Co. scents are the real hero.

Additionally, we really thought through the functional details of each individual product, and how we could enhance the user experience. What it’s like to refill, how the lid nests into the XL waxed perfume, the materials they are produced from and the potential uses they may have once their function as a candle/home perfume has come to an end. We were very conscious of the longevity of these items, and we have purposely designed them to have other uses at the end of life, be it as a vase, storage container or a drinking glass.

Can you tell us about the techniques and materials you prefer to work with, and how they contribute to the overall aesthetic and durability of your pieces?

I really enjoy working with a wide range of materials. I particularly love working with materials and processes that allow the natural qualities, textures and colours of those materials to shine, be it highlighting the grain pattern in a certain timber, or embracing the random and almost liquid-like fluidity of blown glass.

I think this really influences the way in which I approach design too. I tend to gravitate towards a more pared back and refined aesthetic, making way for the materials and functional details to be the hero. I hope this restrained approach to design results in products of significant longevity too.

I believe that if we want to make a difference through design, we must make products that are better. Designing a product that is timeless in form, with a carefully considered selection of materials, and robust enough to endure through decades of use, beyond passing trends... This is always the goal.

What’s been your most meaningful creative project or design to date, and why?

Right now, it’s probably building our family home. It’s been an absolute roller coaster with some huge challenges along the way, but we are slowly getting there and it's going to be a very special space when we finally finish it.

We have really tried to build a home that is suited to our needs, and nothing more. It will be super energy efficient, and we have used more sustainable materials where possible. The interior is lined with Eucalyptus with large windows that flood the space with a beautiful light, connecting you to nature with views across the Manawatu towards Ruapehu.

Can you share three words that encapsulate your design ethos?

Simplicity, Timelessness and Permanence.

We’d love to know which other designers you admire — do you have any treasured objects or furniture designed by someone else that you love?

There are too many to list. Right now I really admire Diez Office and their work in creating exceptionally beautiful and innovative sustainable products. I also really love works by Note Studio, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Martin Visser, Jean Prouvé and many more.

Outside of work, we imagine you’re pretty busy with your young family. What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend?

I’m currently finishing off building our family home so my weekends are very busy with that. When I'm not on the tools, I love heading out into the fresh air for a good walk with the family, going to the beach or heading away for the weekend to my favourite NZ city, Wellington.

Quick-fire Q’s

Name a scent that invokes a special memory for you?

Jasmine. My wife and I spent some time in Thailand for our honeymoon, and where we stayed smelt like Jasmine. Also, our first home was a little 130 year old cottage in Napier which had Jasmine climbing all over the front porch which smelt amazing.

A daily ritual you can’t live without?

Coffee. Lots of coffee.

Favourite dish and where would you like to eat it?

I can’t go past fried chicken! Take me back to New York to get the best wings I have ever had.

What’s your favourite space in your home?

It’s not finished yet, but I think the living space is going to be lovely.

Your most-loved Ashley & Co. scent?

It has to be Tui & Kahili.