So close yet so far. This week we are lucky enough to visit the studio of Penny Sage at their HQ in New Zealand. The creative dream team (Kate, Grace, Wiebke & Lani) shared some beautiful images of their all-in-one workroom/showroom/retail space and gave us an insight into their coveted label.
Gussie: Roula explained that when she went to visit you all in NZ, the studio was in such a lovely location, at the peak of a hill if I remember correctly?
All: Our studio is located in the Arch Hill/Grey Lynn area here in Auckland. We’re hidden away on a quiet residential street. It's a great spot that is nearby to where most of our lovely makers and suppliers work too. Very handy for keeping production local!
How did the studio/shop location come about, or was it all down to circumstance?
Our designer Kate began working in this space in 2013. It was a shared studio space for freelance graphic designers, photographers and writers at the time. Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to take over the entire space just for Penny Sage operations. We have slowly worked on transforming the studio into an all-in-one workroom, showroom and retail space. It’s still a work in progress, but we love having a flexible space that can be rearranged as needed.
How do you think working in the place you do affects or changes the way you work?
Running a studio in a quiet residential area is ideal, it's a very relaxed area. It definitely sets the tone and pace of our work days. We really love the location and feel lucky to be able to share Penny Sage directly from our headquarters.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learnt Kate, in the years of running the label? And collectively, has there been any times which have necessitated reflection?
Kate: Some major lessons I've learnt from running Penny Sage are... to always listen to your instincts, write down your goals, surround yourself with people who challenge and support you, and be kind! As a team, we are always reflecting on our practice –– what we make, how we make it, and our impact on the environment & its inhabitants. Now more than ever, daily conversations about what we're putting into the world are an essential part of our studio time together.
All the knitwear and colour pairings of PS clothing are so beautiful! What drives or inspires the colour choices, fibres and fabrics for each PS collection?
Kate: Thank you! I love colour and enjoy the challenge of finding refreshing colour combinations and textiles to work with each season. I am fussy with fabric choices and mostly use natural compositions. I'm inspired by nature and films most when I'm designing a new collection. Often I'll find a colour that stands out and it becomes a bit of a must-have obsession for me. If I can't find fabric or yarn that matches my seasonal colour obsession I will reach out to my favourite commercial fabric dyer to create the desired colour. He is an absolute genius! In the past I have given him a hydrangea petal and he perfectly colour matched to it.
Working in a small team, what are some of the joys? And pitfalls… if any! ha
All: Working in a small team is great! All of us like to be as productive & resourceful as possible –– doing as much as we can with what we have on hand. On a day-to-day level there is a lot of joy and laughter surrounding what music we listen to, what’s for lunch, and whatever memes we might have seen on the way to work.
Penny Sage clothing has its own unique style - who is the Penny Sage woman? …and which female icons/muses inspire the label?
Kate: I am inspired by my team, our customers and the community of creative collaborators who I have the pleasure of working with. They always wear Penny Sage in new and exciting ways that are amazing to see. My forever muse and inspiration for the label is my mum, Nicola Megaw.
What artists and or designers is the team excited by at the moment?
To name a few: Sonia Delaunay, Eva Hesse, Margarete Willers, Barkley L. Hendricks, Imogen Taylor.
What is currently on repeat in the studio?
Collected Pieces by Mary Lattimore
Medea Music Series - Episode 14 “TALK TALK VS. BT”. A playlist curated by Laura and Deanna Fanning for Milan-based label MEDEA
What is everyones favourite piece from the new collection?
Kate: Ray dress in striped silk organza
Grace: Mazar skirt in bronze & Joan shirt in poppy corduroy
Wiebke: Lyrical dress in petrol denim
Lani: Kizzy trouser in bronze
What is a PS piece from previous seasons that you wish you could bring back?
Kate: The Allegro dress –– the fabric was designed by Marta Buda and block printed by hand in India.
Grace: Shebeen knit
Wiebke: Duse coat
Lani: Kizzy trouser in orange
The new isolation collaboration looks juicy! …could you speak a little about that?
We were lucky to be able to work from home in isolation during the New Zealand COVID-19 lockdown period. We spent most of the time away from the studio working on creating new textiles to use once lockdown ended and we were allowed to return to our studio. Our studio & workroom managers (Grace & Wiebke) developed special block prints on fabrics that we had left over from last season's production, developed patchwork textiles using very small scraps of silk organza, and organised some natural dye experiments on existing garments. We can't wait to share our little iso collection later this month!
Shop Penny Sage
Images supplied by Penny Sage
Interview by Gussie Vinall Richardson
Layout by Shelby De Fazio