Interview with a Creative
The joy of working in the design industry is getting the opportunity to meet amazing inspirational creatives.
We had the pleasure of spending time with Shelley Boyd from Boyd Blue, one of the largest Australian wholesale suppliers of artisan furniture and decor to the design industry.
Shelley is hands on involved in product design, manufacturing, retailing, supplying and sourcing internationally.
We are so grateful she took the time to give us a peak into her world.
WHERE DID YOUR LOVE OF DESIGN BLOSSOM?
I had the privilege and advantage of being bought up in a highly creative family. They worked mostly in the rag trade, and their style and love of quality inspired me. Also, my Grandma was an enormous influence. We did a lot of hand crafts together and she gave me an appreciation of hand made products and paying attention to detail.
WHO IS YOUR DESIGN GURU?
I have enormous respect for Ralph Lauren and Armani.
They both have an ability to tell a story while staying true to their vision. They have a look that is definitive and people remember. At Boyd Blue, we also have a look that is becoming more recognisable.
IF THERE WAS ONE DESIGN BOOK WE SHOULD READ, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
That is impossible to answer! I feel like I have every design book ever published yet every time I travel, I manage to come home with more. Every year Andrew Martin, a British international interior designer brings out a new book and I have every one.
I would suggest the monthly magazines I use for reference. English and American Elle Decor, Architectural Digest and Belle.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION IN YOUR HOME?
I bring back treasures every time I travel so my house is full of memories but I think the thing I prize most is an antique set of drawers that I bought at an auction house many years ago. I recently had it restored and I was worried that it would lose some of its patina and the richness of the wood. Thankfully it has retained and improved it, so it was worth it.
I love antiques. The feeling that they have been treasured and loved in someone's else's history, and now in mine, adds a dimension and peacefulness to a home. Also, the amazing quality of the craftsmanship means that they are not only beautiful but functional as well. I want to supply pieces that will be treasured, loved and kept in the family and never end up in landfill. Really, I love an eclectic mix of old and new, contemporary and classic.
WE LOVE HAVING YOU VISIT!
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT NZ DESIGN?
(NB: Shelley is a New Zealander who has been living in Australia for 28 years meaning she is OURS and this is a somewhat loaded question)
New Zealand designers have a good sense of style and are so clever. They are well travelled so they bring back the best of what's been used overseas and then improve it. It is such a unique light here – colours look so different and they use design and colour to embrace that, which is really inspirational.
So I guess I would define New Zealand designers as;
2) Fantastic colourists
3) Creative design leaders
My favourite would be the Fearon Hay Architects. I think they encompass what NZ design is about on every level.
WHAT OTHER COUNTRY DO YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL TO FOR DESIGN INSPIRATION?
I travel for 7 months of the year so I never feel like I stop.
I regularly go to Maison & Objet Paris in January and Highpoint Market in October which is a highlight.
Over the years, the true value to my business travel has come from working with our artisans in India, The Philippines and Indonesia. The passion they have for their work and attention to detail is truly inspirational. All our products are handmade and I love the personality that the pieces have because of that. I know the people who have made every piece and have enormous respect for them. We have photos of our artisans in our latest catalogue and it is a privilege to work with them.
In our furniture manufacturing business White Furniture Design, we also have an amazing team of artisans passionate about what they do.
We were recently profiled in an Australian paper as our artisans are aged between 60-75 years old. They are skilled perfectionists who craft beautiful pieces. I love that! But at the same time, it highlights an issue as we can't find young people who are interested in furniture making and it is becoming a lost art.
DO YOU THINK THERE IS A MAGIC FORMULA IN COMBINING THESE TWO WORLDS AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ASPIRING YOUNG DESIGNERS?
Well, we never had the gift of children so I have channelled all my love and energy into Boyd Blue. I put my everything into it. My husband is an architect so it helps that we are both saturated in design and speak the same design language.
Boyd Blue has been the perfect for me as it allows me to use my business brain and my creative brain so it is incredibly rewarding.
I also live by the standard 'The more you put in to it, the more you get out'
So this business definitely lets me live by that.
I guess if there was a magic formula it’s foundations would be in the quality of the people you surround yourself with, and that has been my biggest success.
I love my staff, they are amazing, I don't micro manage them because I totally trust them and know they will get the job done.
I enjoy them, so I enjoy my work, so I enjoy my life.... I guess that would be the magic formula.
YOU SEEM TO HAVE A COMMITMENT TO PROVIDING THE HIGHEST QUALITY PRODUCT. IS THAT A CHALLENGE IN THIS LOW COST, HIGH VOLUME ENVIRONMENT?
The pressure in having your name on a product is that you have to believe in it. To do that I have to watch the development of each product so I have absolute confidence in it. I think, because of my love of antiques, I want to ensure that our pieces will be handed down. I travel 7 months of the year to visit suppliers and artisans to ensure that quality. I love seeing the pride they have in our product and I definitely think it is what gives our work an edge. Also, because it is handmade, there is less wastage as they take care to use every piece of the natural resource.
I encourage our clients to take their time and choose the best quality they can afford. This discourages a throwaway society as they select pieces that will last a lifetime.
It is all very connected really.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT TO DATE?
There have been too many great ones to pick but working on the refit of the Marriott Resort on the Gold Coast was really rewarding project. We provided beautiful handcrafted rugs and white outdoor furniture that looks totally amazing.
SHELLEY I'M ABOUT TO GIVE YOU THE LAST (3) WORDS SO...
DESCRIBE BOYD BLUE.
Sophisticated. Global. Timeless.
AND BECAUSE I'M CURIOUS...TELL ME YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR?
Navy (of course!)
Shelley Boyd is the owner and Creative Director at Boyd Blue.
She was a Queensland Awards Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in 2013 for the Business Owner Award and in 2015 for the Entrepreneur Award and her clients have decorated beautiful homes around the world.
You can find her at boydblue.com
If you are lucky enough to live in Auckland, you can see the Boyd Blue range at Designers Candy. Purveyors of gorgeous things who generously let us use their studio to meet with Shelley.
A warm Thank You to you both. It was a lovely morning surrounded by beautiful things and beautiful people.