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Article: From Waves to Homewares: The Journey of KAYU Studio

From Waves to Homewares: The Journey of KAYU Studio

Growing up in Mount Maunganui, the beachside mecca Kiwis flock to every summer, James Mitchell has always had a love for the waves.

Surfing took him across the world, exploring the Pacific Islands, Mexico, Europe, North America and of course, Indonesia. After uni - where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Management and Marketing - his interest in learning about business and his love for surfing combined, being offered the opportunity to further his studies in Mexico near the ocean.

Surfing and business continued to be the theme of his life, eventually following both to Bali.

It was in Bali that the idea for KAYU Studio was planted. Living there for a decade he worked on a number of projects including building and establishing an interior design and property management company, Salt Villas, with a focus on renovating and decorating elevated accommodation.

Sourcing unique furniture and homewares and learning how to bring a certain vibe to each space led James to start thinking about how he could transform his learnings into something more meaningful. His experience, coupled with his commitment to fair trade practices, laid the foundation for a brand grounded in a strong ethos.

The very first KAYU-designed product was the Nala Stool. It was the team’s learning curve – spending time designing, prototyping, and facing a lot of trial and error – with the result being an elegant, unique stool made from teak. It showed James the gap in the market for this kind of considered product and eventually inspired the Tama Stool, another in the KAYU Studio core range.

Over the last two years, KAYU Studio has evolved into a destination for curated furniture and homewares. With a strong desire to move away from trends and focus on pieces that feel special, James and his growing team source and curate products not yet in the New Zealand market.

James continues to spend his time back and forth between Indonesia and New Zealand, working closely with the makers to create an in-house KAYU Studio collection.

Photo Credit:
Cover Image: Ben Parry
Article Photos: Jessie Loager