Ethical apparel company Kowtow’s first flagship store in Wellington has been recognised at the Best Design Awards 2018. Its minimalist style won interior designer and architect Rufus Knight the Retail Environments category and a Gold Pin.
The judges, respected designers in various fields from across Australasia, chose the best designs in each category to award Gold Pins to, followed by Silver and Bronze.
Knight’s boutique interior design firm Knight’s Associates Ltd. has won multiple Gold and Bronze Pins in previous years, including the prized Purple Pin which is given out to the best in each discipline. He’s known for the Lonely fit-outs, which won Best Design Awards in 2014 and 2015.
For the Kowtow store, Knight collaborated with Kowtow’s Gosia Piatek and Makers of Architecture, a Wellington firm that prides itself on innovation and curation.
The store, which opened in March 2018, means a lot to Piatek who is the owner, founder and creative director of Kowtow.
She started the business in 2007, seeing a place for a globally aware Fair Trade fashion label. Every aspect of Kowtow’s product is tracked from start to finish, plant to store, meaning its Fair Trade credentials are rock solid.
Piatek specifically chose to work with Knight on the flagship after noting his previous innovative interior design projects.
“Rufus was excited to work with us as sustainability and traceability is core to what we do, and he wanted to execute that in the design,” she says.
Piatek was directly involved in the store’s fit-out, with her own interests in architecture and craftsmanship already an inspiration for Kowtow’s creations.
Kowtow’s store design was intended to reflect the aesthetic and values of the label. The judges’ comments show that Knight and Piatek achieved their goal: “Beautiful minimalist perfection. Very true to its ethical beliefs. Sustainable, simple, crafted and executed with perfection.”
All of Kowtow’s pieces are created using sustainably and ethically sourced materials, a concept that has been carried through to every aspect of their store.
“Every detail was considered - from the recycled nylon rugs to the New Zealand grown and milled timber,” Piatek says.
Those rugs are partially composed of salvaged fishing net, with the timber hand-finished with an environmentally friendly oil.
The brand’s focus on transparency is represented quite literally through the storefront’s large windows with a view straight into the store, rather than a display.
Kowtow’s emphasis on locally sourced materials is seen through its ceramic tiles, which are handmade by Auckland artist Gidon Bing. Its linen curtains are sustainable and eco-friendly right down to the processing method.
The floor to ceiling displays, using that sustainable eucalyptus timber, and large floor space symbolise the brand’s ethos of generosity.
The store can be found at 29 College St opposite Moore Wilson’s in Te Aro, Wellington.