Manawatu Wanganui Design Directions - Rachel Brandon

In person with leading Wanganui interior designer

Rachel Brandon

“I love to live life to the fullest and my glass is always half full to overflowing. I have a passion for all things design and love to travel. I have been fortunate to have visited around 20 countries with my 13-year-old daughter and my husband. I became a designer because I reached a point in my life when my family didn’t need me so much and it was time to do something for myself. I studied full time at Ucol (Universal College of Learning) in Palmerston North and then went on to launch my design practice and haven’t looked back. As well as being an interior designer, I co-own a design store in Wanganui, Blank Kanvas Concepts, which is now two years old.”

Which New Zealand designer do you most admire?

“David Trubridge and the amazing team he works with. His business ethos is fabulous and his designs are stunning. His team is a pleasure to deal with and he always sends out fantastic Christmas gifts!” What’s the most satisfying design project you’ve worked on? “Every project I have worked on has been satisfying on varying levels, but the most satisfying would have to be one I have recently completed. It was a new build and I was involved very early on in the process. The clients were very open to all my creative ideas and were so much fun to work with. I was able to work with Kovacs Design Furniture and had furniture made specifically for this job. Designers Guild, Kravet and Harlequin fabrics feature throughout the bedrooms and lounges and these add to the elegance of the rooms. We had tiles ordered in from Spain and they create the wow factor to the bathrooms. The location of the home is right on a cliff overlooking the ocean and that was the inspiration for my designs. It really was a dream job in every aspect."


What’s your favourite recent work by another designer?

“It’s a hard question as I see so many wonderful designs by other designers and they all inspire me for different reasons. If I had to single one out it would be Greg Natale as his work is always fresh and inspiring and I would love to have a room created just for me by him.” Tell us about Wanganui and how it has inspired you: 5 I have lived in Wanganui for nine years now and the beauty of this city never ceases to amaze me. We are so fortunate to live in a city with such beautiful architecture and a huge arts movement. From glass blowing, painting to sculpture, we have it all on our door step. The scenery is also stunning with the beautiful rugged coastline to the serenity of the river, and the mountain views are breath- taking. Wanganui has a very relaxed way of life and the people are wonderful. We moved from Auckland and it was one of the best moves we have made. We are very settled here and I love being able to share my creativity with the people of this city.


A room by Australian designer Greg Natale.Do you use your home as a testing ground for your ideas?

“Only on very rare occasions. I use a lot of creative energy with clients, five days a week, and my time at home is spent recharging. I see my role at home as mum and wife, not designer. Our home is relaxed and fun with lots of art work scattered around the house. We also have a lot of photos in two specific areas. One dedicated to travel and the other to family and friends. I like to soften spaces with rugs and throws. I would describe the overall interior style of our home as streamlined, but with splashes of colour amid a monochrome setting.”


Were you creative as a child?

“Yes – I was always moving furniture around the house and forever changing the layout of my bedroom. I loved going to the theatre and seeing all the beautiful costumes and props.”

What’s your favourite time of day?

“Definitely, without a doubt, twilight. I absolutely love when the trees turn that dark inky colour against the horizon. For me this is Mother Nature at her finest.”

Twilight is Rachel's favourite time of day.

Tell us about your dream home.

“I would love to build a [shipping] container house for my family. It would have lots of glass and be overlooking the Whanganui river. Clean and simple in design but with the warmth of rugs and comfortable furniture, along with art and plants. The master ensuite would have to have a beautiful free- standing bath with a view of the river. The home would be relaxed, stylish, elegant and comfortable, and surrounded by beautiful mature trees. My daughter is fully on board but my husband is taking a little convincing.”


What are your favourite countries to visit?

“Italy, Egypt and Malaysia. Italy for its stunning architecture and history, along with its romance and sophistication. Egypt for its history, but also for its basic rawness. I love Malaysia for its humidity, food, tropical plants and the people. I am heading there in October and can’t wait. It makes all my senses come alive.”



Manawatu Wanganui Design Directions - Rachel Brandon

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