Esther Diamond of NZ
Contemporarising kitsch: a New Zealand home ware brand brings the
nation’s past to the present. Lee Suckling finds out how
The fusion of kitschy cultural iconography with contemporary design isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but New Zealand brand Esther Diamond is making an impact doing just that.
By putting 1960s New Zealand cultural icons known as ‘Kiwiana’ onto earthy, clean materials, Esther Diamond creates more than just cushions and throws, says owner Greg Collinge. “We want to be quite unusual; we’re making an ‘art product’ on fabric,” he says.
Esther Diamond textiles range from tea towels to lampshades, living room cushions being the most popular wares. “Our products utilise kitsch icons in a very modern way,” Collinge explains. “The fabrics are neutral colours and natural cotton textures, so everything is very clean and contemporary.”
Born out of Hawke’s Bay, the company uses the work of local expressionist pop artists such as Dick Frizzell and Martin Poppelwell to take its customers back to the ‘good old days’. “Works such as [Frizzell’s] ‘Tiki’ give New Zealanders a humorous look at our cultural, mythological past,” says Collinge.
Currently available in 50 stockists in New Zealand, Esther Diamond will soon expand throughout Australasia. “Kiwiana is something we were embarrassed about when it was around, but now it’s a form of Kiwi pride,” Collinge adds.
“However as New Zealand design matures, we’re going to need to go a bit fresher. Instead of looking just to New Zealand’s past for creative inspiration, we’ll also be looking to our future.”