Andrea Harradine of Powersurge, makers of marvellous metalworks, shares why it pays to go where the wheels take you.
One fine day almost three years ago, Powersurge director Todd Stevenson set out on a bike ride from the West Auckland home he shared with his wife and co-director Andrea Harradine. Struggling up a steep hill, he was about to give up and turn around when a stranger stopped to encourage him to keep riding to the top. He hopped back on his bike and as he rounded the corner saw a ‘For sale’ sign…
So, Andrea, that was a bit of luck! Finding the house was strangely serendipitous. We were living just down the road and planning to build a cantilevered house on our section, so if that person hadn’t encouraged Todd to keep going, we’d never have found out this property was for sale. As well as that, during our first viewing of the house, we discovered we’d made the outdoor furniture on the deck for a beloved client, designer Bob McDonald, many years previously, which really solidified for us that it was meant to be.
What else attracted you to the place? The view, the quiet, the nature and the architecture. We wanted something interesting and unique, something that reflected our aesthetics and encouraged a more restful lifestyle. Being in the Waitakere Ranges, we’re surrounded by native birds, the elevation means we get the most amazing skies, and the lack of neighbours gives the house a bach feel, which we like to call ‘loud music on the weekends’.
Have you made many changes since you moved in? The architecture is what we fell in love with, so other than repainting and adding some soft furnishings, the house is mostly as we found it. One day we’d like to extend the front deck and maybe add another storey, but for now a container pool is the next thing on our agenda.
How would you describe your interior style? Relaxed. In our work, we’re surrounded by ever-changing interior trends, but for us the most important thing is having a home that feels comfortable and reflects who we are. Our kids come and go, we have dogs and we cook a lot, so the house has to be functional first. We’d never want it to feel fussy, so we try to surround ourselves with the things and people that remind us of how we got to live in this incredible place.
Is your taste shaped by other areas of interest? We’re deeply inspired by the arts and architecture, in particular the architectural work of Zaha Hadid, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright, Tom Kundig and [Austrian studio] Precht, as well as the incredible sculpture of Albert Paley.
Creating bespoke metalworks for commercial and private projects often sees you working with interior designers and architects — does this influence your aesthetic at home? We’re very lucky that we get to see all sorts of amazing work and it definitely filters in. There are so many brilliant designers and makers in New Zealand. If we do decide to build one day, we’ll have to go through all the bookmarks we’ve made over the years.
You’ve recently developed a line of home products — called Home. What was the inspiration for these pieces? Auckland-based interior designer Amelia Holmes put us onto Milan’s Nilufar gallery, so we visited when we went to Italy for Salone del Mobile and it totally blew us away. The gallery beautifully presents Italian design history alongside innovative and modern design, and pushed us to experiment and extrapolate our existing day-to-day production into a smaller and more accessible scale.
How does the design process evolve from idea to realised object? For our first Home collection, we wanted to create simple but elegant pieces that are beautiful in their own right and can find their place in many different spaces. Most are products we felt we needed in our own home. Todd draws multiple versions, then we whittle down the list, which then goes into prototyping, followed by testing of structure, durability and finish. Once the designs are finalised, they’re produced to order or in small runs, then hand-finished in our Henderson workshop.
What’s the most satisfying part? Developing designs and taking on challenges that stretch our boundaries means we’re always learning that the impossible is possible. And for us and out clients, the end result is always immensely gratifying.
What recent projects are you most proud of? Working with Rufus Knight on Aesop’s Wellington store was an absolute pleasure, as was working with Sumich Chaplin Architects on a three-storey solid-brass balustrade. That was a real test of our craftsmanship and we’re delighted with the result.
At the end of the day, what rituals do you enjoy at home? Gathering around the table with our family, jumping in the spa on winter evenings and being able to pop to Te Henga to walk the dogs whenever we choose.
Interview Alice Lines
Photography Duncan Innes