This bright green 1970s dining table has been seen around the world
Kenzy Cheeseman, artist and fashion designer, makes botanical art prints using flowers from her father’s garden, and also designs and sews face masks. She lives in Hataitai, Wellington, with her partner Luis Perez, a chef.
KENZY CHEESMAN: We bought this townhouse about four and a half years ago. It was quite run down when we got it, with dirty yellow walls. We gutted it completely and painted the walls white. It is a really comfortable house in the winter and a sunbath in the summer. It’s so close to Hataitai town and beach for summer swimming.
I keep my bike indoors so I don’t forget to ride it, although I have to admit I find the roads in Wellington a bit terrifying.
When we moved in, I was running Bello, a housewares store, and a lot of our business came from there. It had been a long time since I finished my silk and merino loungewear brand, For Every Minute, which lasted for five years. I’ll be honest, I lost a bit of self-confidence after having to close a brand in which I had given myself body and soul.
My Bitossi glasses are quite valuable. They are color coded so when friends come over we get a color each so we don’t mix up our drinks.
The Tsé Tsé ceramic bowls and plates are bold with Uzbek patterns, and I’m drawn to their irregular shapes. Luis and I like to cook. When you manage to present the food on beautiful plates, it makes the dining experience much more interesting.
I wear a lot of black, but I prefer colored interiors. Color illuminates everything. We have a little orange in the house. It plays well against all our green things.
My parents bought the green dining table in 1975. It’s by Italian designer Vico Magistretti and they had it in their London flat. They’ve always had such a cool style – powder pink walls and mom made their black and white zigzag curtains.
When I was growing up in London, this was our dining table in our formal living room. We bought it with us when we moved to New Zealand in the 1990s. I always told my parents I wanted dibs on it. My parents have hosted amazing dinner parties around it over the years, and we loved entertaining around it too.
After closing the business and five years in retail, I missed making my own products. I had no job and no plan, but I was positive and open to opportunities.
It was then that I brought my old sewing machine upstairs, which had gathered dust. The day before [March 2020] lockdown I bought a lot of fabric from Spotlight and started making masks for family and friends, then it got crazy and our house turned into a production factory.
I received the sofa from a friend of my mother. It was a cream linen. I ordered the orange fabric and had a few weeks up my sleeve during one of our lockdowns, so I picked it up. I took a pattern from the old couch and made the new upholstery and cushions on my sewing machine.
Mom and Dad gave me Seraphine Pick’s artwork for my 21st birthday. It dates from the late 1990s. I’ve always loved it.
Last year, I spent a week tending to my father’s quarter-acre garden in Greytown. Dad is trained as a typographer and art director and he combines plants, colors and textures with such a wonderful eye. His garden is my happy place. I began handpicking and arranging flowers, leaves and pods he had grown and digitally captured them using the flatbed scanning process.
I was thinking of making textile designs out of it, but a friend asked me for one as a framed print, and that was it.
I find it fascinating to choose flowers like dahlias, canna lilies and yarrow and arrange them, step back and see the artworks unfold. It is also an opportunity to observe the evolution of flowers and plants over the seasons. I can’t wait for the hellebores to bloom in winter.
I am delighted to exhibit at the NZ Art Show [over Queen’s Birthday weekend]. This will be my very first exhibition.
My mother and my grandmother were both passionate about knitting, I don’t have the talent for that! In Wairarapa I met all these knitters and thought this would be a great way to profile and support them. I created Yarnly, a collaborative project that brings together a team of skilled artisans to knit, crochet and weave New Zealand woolen yarn into fashion items and accessories. I design the ideas and the knitters make them.
I keep my scarf on a mannequin in my workshop, in memory of Jan Daly, one of the knitters who passed away last year. Her yarn collection was donated to charity and our knitters did their magic and knitted the yarn into baby blankets.
The New Zealand Art Exhibition runs from June 3-5, the Queen’s Birthday weekend, at the TSB Arena in Wellington.