Q&A with Nelson interior designer Emma Gale of Frank Design 2021

A lover of colour and texture, Emma Gale is an accomplished residential interior designer who worked for studios for 16 years before setting up her own. After moving to Nelson five years ago, she established Frank Design, and continues to be inspired by the talented people and beautiful landscapes of the Tasman area.

How would you describe your home and style?

We live in Todd’s Valley, North Nelson, in a late 1960s weatherboard home we purchased just before lockdown. The house is light-filled and has loads of potential. It’s situated on a sloping site overlooking farmland and has sea views. Working from home, around my seven-year-old daughter, Elsie, you will usually find me with my latest interior design commission spread out over the dining table and a sea of Lego spread over the living room floor.

What early memorable items did you buy for your home?

The first memorable item was my dining table. It’s made from a 2.4m-long walnut door, an interior door that was no longer needed when a design friend was renovating her home. I had another friend make a matte black steel base for it, and the walnut top was layered with six coats of Liberon finishing oil and topped with walnut wax, so it’s bulletproof and the heart of our home.

It currently sits with an old pew that came out of the Blackball church and was acquired from Reefton Coffin Co, a fabulous antique shop. The pew runs down one side of the table and is perfect when needing to feed a horde of hungry kids. It’s my favourite place in my home for the view, for a generous flat workspace, tea-cup chats, children’s gatherings and family dinner time.

What inspires you about living in your region?

Our region’s outdoor environment and creative talent. Nelson Tasman is renowned for the creative work its people produce. I am continually in awe of the diverse and high-quality work that comes from the region, from fantastic art galleries (a favourite of mine is the Parker Gallery), to the clever team at Höglund Art Glass. The Moutere artisan Fleur Woods (of Fleur Woods Art) is a standout to me, with her stunning hand-stitched embroidery work, as well as Motueka’s sculptural artist Jamie Brown of Twigg. I love all these artists’ use of colour.

Our closest and favourite beach in the region is Cable Bay, especially at low tide when the reef is exposed for exploring. There are kina, kina shells, anemones, starfish in an array of fantastic colours, and we’ve even spotted a small seahorse in the low-tide rock pools. I am inspired by the colours and textures found in this natural environment.

What’s the most recent item you purchased for your home?

‘On the River’ is a small painting of the Rangitikei River by Tammie Rose Hodgetts. Tammie’s work is influenced by the early modernist paintings, with cubism giving depth to her landscapes. I love the shapes and mix of colours.



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Compiled by Catherine Steel


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