Conversations with Jess from Tan in the City

Jess from Tan in the City

Jess from Tan in the City

Conversations with Jess from Tan in the City

Jess Binnendyk is the owner of Tan in the City. 

She has an edgy, infectious personality and has meticulous work ethics and to top it off she's a tan perfectionist! 

Q: What made you decide to redo your workspace. What wasn’t working with the old space? 

A: Within 2 years the business grew substantially, staff numbers increased and the practical space needs didn’t work. After 2 years it was nice to get a refresh! 

Q: Did you have any fixed ideas of how you wanted it to look? 

A: I wanted to stay on par with the old space look but step up the image. We have grown up and I wanted to reflect that. 

Q: How does the new space work, how is it different? 

A:  Last time we recycled on a very tight budget ( even a chair from the tip!). This time around we wanted to up-cycle and use more organic and sustainable items. I have a great desk crafted from old floorboards, a secondhand couch, eco-friendly paint throughout. The customers love the look and are not aware until told that its up-cycled and more sustainable. 

Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to create a commercial space with the environment in mind? 

A: There are no hurdles. It’s easy to source eco paint. You just need someone imaginative in your corner. 

Q: What changes do you see yourself making in your industry to support the ethical movement and inspire others? 

A: I would like to change the practice of single-use hairnets and g-strings. They are not recyclable. Perhaps by making up ‘Keep Packs’ ....a bit like getting rid of single-use coffee cups, you get used to being conscious of your choices. 


Conversations with Grace from Natural Paint Co.

Me with Grace from Natural Paint Co. in Christchurch

Me with Grace from Natural Paint Co. in Christchurch

Conversations with Grace from Natural Paint Co.

Grace is co-founder and head of customer satisfaction at the Natural Paint Company. 

Formerly a nurse with a passion for keeping people healthy and living life to the fullest she became aware of a gap in the market and set about with her partner James to finding a paint alternative that wasn’t harmful or acrylic or chemically based. Natural Paint Company has removed all chemicals and replaced them with natural clay and plant resins. 

Q:  After your inspiration to produce chemical-free paint, how long did it take to launch? 

A: 2 years. We have been selling for 4.5 years 

Q: Did you have any problems breaking into the industry? 

A:  It is always challenging to introduce something new. Mostly it was a matter of reassuring people that the products worked! They last and are durable. That's our point of difference - we haven’t compromised on durability, performance or colour. 

Q: What is your top-selling product? 

A: Our go-to product is our paint. We also have a whole range of natural oils. The pure interior oil is great as it doesn’t yellow the timbers like polyurethane does and is fully waterproof. 

Q: As you are based in Christchurch, how accessible is your product? 

A: We have an online model which offers free shipping throughout NZ for orders over $99. All our packaging is recyclable and after considerable research, we know our paint is fully compostable. 


Conversations with Corner Room Build about Ethical Decks

Jasen Teller from Corner Room Build and me!

Jasen Teller from Corner Room Build and me!

Conversations with Corner Room Build about Ethical Decks

Jasen Teller has been building decks and fences for over 15 years and became aware of the impact building had on the environment. 

The footprint is alarmingly large and has already made changes in his everyday life to become a better carer of his environment, he made a conscious effort to seek out changes in his building work to better ensure sustainability and protection of the world he lives in. 

Q: Do you only build decks? 

A: No, we build fences, retaining walls, pergolas, any hard structures for landscaping. 

Q: What made you want to build ethically? 

A: Well, I have a partner who is passionate about protecting our planet! The building industry contributes 50% of the rubbish in landfills. I just felt there must be a better way and started to look into it. 

Q: What makes your decks better, how do you know? 

A:  Most of the larger timber suppliers sourced timber that has been certified ethical. It is stickered to show its compliance and most won’t sell anything but certified timber. It has less impact on the environment and has excellent longevity. Where ever possible ( if clients are on board and most are) we don’t use concrete. 

Q: Can you build an entire deck without concrete, does it still have longevity? 

A: Yes, we use screw-in pins for piles which have a longer life and a smaller footprint. New on the market are recycled rubber pads for the framing to sit on. 

Q: How do clients respond to building ethically? 

A: Well, they have a certain type of deck pictured in their mind with decking timber colours etc. Once I have shown them examples and assured the finish to be not only their vision but also sustainable most are on board. 

Q: Does working this way make you feel differently about your work and what do you hope for the industry moving forward? 

A: Being aware that there are better options available is heartening. Tradies and others in the industry just need to ask questions, suppliers need to listen to the needs. It just needs a little effort and commitment. Tell people and inspire them. And no I don’t use plastic bags or packaging or single-use coffee cups! 

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Tan in the City - Ethically Innovative

Tan in the City

Tan in the City, Auckland

Tan in the City, Auckland

For the new Tan in the City salon, I had a small budget and free rein to come up with a  concept that would showcase the owner’s personality and create an experience for her clients.

This was an ethical designers dream project. Almost everything was up cycled, recycled, or found on the

side of the road and customised. Function is always key and this was no exception here as chocolatey tan would be sprayed constantly. We worked with a dark base, good lighting and created an urban jungle like haven.

To tie in with the company colours, Fuchsia pink highlights were added into the custom desk, the up-cycled parrots and the  fabric sprayed chair.

Pet and Vet - Ethically Innovative

Pet and Vet, Auckland

Pet and Vet, Auckland

Pet and Vet

Commercial fit outs can be crazy expensive no matter how you try to budget. This cattery in the North Shore required some serious planning as function and health were key elements. Originally the space had compromised vinyl flooring, was run down and had an overwhelming clinical feel.

Sanding, scraping and stripping back were part of an intense system where we could start from zero. We used an amazing coating product from Resene to seal in the floors and lower walls making them easy clean and cat proof!

We added warmth with a chocolate coloured stain on the sanded back doors and custom panels with washable wallpapers were added for depth and interest. Existing cat climbers were combined and recovered for the ultimate kitty tower!

Even the old chair which we found outside, was painted gold and repurposed.


Mural Moments - Ethically Innovative

Copy of March of the Penguins

Mural Moments

I'm all about it when it comes to interior design ideas that incorporate murals. I don't mean the plastic wall printouts that seem to shout at you from across the room. 

"NOTICE ME ", or the quieter paper versions that still find it hard to settle in to the overall interior plan. 

I admit there ARE some beautiful paper murals which do sit nicely in a space, but the problem for me is that I’m yet to find one that is ethically or sustainably made.  

I remember working in a home as a cleaner when I was 12 and walking into the formal dining room for the first time. The walls right the way round the room, were painted in a misty minty coloured landscape. It felt like I had entered a new world, I was in awe. 

Since then I have always loved that one of a kind, handcrafted feel of a mural, especially in a formal room.

While working in London, I saw some beautiful examples of this craft and this is where I first began creating interior murals myself. 

Of course it doesn't need to always be formal, or landscapes. There is no limit to what you can create. 

If you are trying it for the first time, keep it simple in colour and design and think of something that connects with the interior or space rather than overpowering it.

Murals are really having a moment right now, so there’s no end to the inspiration out there. Pop in for a cocktail at Pineapple on Parnell for some beautiful formal landscapes 

Or online  check out Bar Palmier by interior designer Xavier Segars for a new take on the jungle mural. 

With smaller companies like the Natural Paint Co creating some beautiful eco friendly colorways, 

You can create stunning walls without harming the environment.