“It is in the living room shielded by sofa cushions and huddled behind a ranked army of bric-a-brac that the individual searches for a safe haven from the shock of modern urban life. It is in the phantasmagoria of the interior that objects appear deprived of their immediate usefulness and acquire new meanings and functions, as they are cast in a system of personal associations and elective affinities. What talismans shroud our dwelling places.” The KeeperMassimiliano Gioni, 2016.

The Room examines how interior space is constructed and expressed through ornamentation and design. This major exhibition developed by Objectspace is the first of its kind which draws together the fields of craft, design and architecture in one large-scale installation. 

Experience four curated environments conceived as rooms, each exploring the social and cultural dimensions of domestic decoration and interior design. Examining by what method interior architecture communicates an oblique language of behaviour and use. 

Within a series of interconnected built structures designed by Knight Associates, curator decorative art and design at Te Papa Justine Olsen in collaboration with contemporary jeweller Karl Fritsch, curator and writer Emma Ng, artist and curator Ane Tonga in collaboration with artist Ani O’Neill, and interior designer Rufus Knight with architect Mijntje Lepoutre, each present an interior scene for The Room.

Existing somewhere between living room, stage set, and design-fair-display, The Room draws on our personal and cultural associations with the objects and architecture of daily life.


Rufus Knight was born in 1986 in Opotiki, New Zealand. At Victoria University's School of Architecture and Design in Wellington, he undertook studies in Interior Architecture after which he held an Associate position at award-winning practice Fearon Hay Architects. Following working terms abroad in Europe, notably for Vincent Van Duysen Architects in Antwerp, he opened his own Auckland-based studio, Knight Associates, concentrating on Interior Architecture and Design in 2016.

Mijntje Lepoutre graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Masters of Architecture (Professional) and a first class honours degree in Interior Architecture. Following her studies she worked for leading hospitality design firm, Allistar Cox and as a Senior Interior Architect at award-winning practice, CTRL Space. Lepoutre’s expertise and interest lies in uncovering and delivering  emotive spaces that reflect their environment and contribute positively towards New Zealand’s creative identity.

Justine Olsen is Curator Decorative Art & Design at Te Papa. Justine Olsen’s expertise lies in decorative arts and design, with particular reference to New Zealand, both historical and contemporary. Current research includes New Zealand’s contribution to modernism and to the arts and crafts movement.

Emma Ng is a writer and curator from Auckland. She lived in Wellington for seven years, studying at Victoria University before becoming the 2013 Blumhardt Curatorial Intern at the Dowse Art Museum. Between 2014 and 2016, she was the Curator and Manager at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, where she oversaw a programme of contemporary art exhibitions, publications, and events. Emma has written for publications such as Art New Zealand, Art Asia Pacific and The Pantograph Punch. Emma graduated with a master’s degree in design research and criticism from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Ane Tonga is an artist, curator and writer. She has undertaken curatorial roles across Aotearoa which includes her former post as the Lead Exhibitions Curator at Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa. She has examined notions of gender and feminism in Tongan society through a photographic investigation of nifo koula (gold teeth). The 2018 autumn edition of Art New Zealand features ‘Sissy That Walk’, a piece written by Ane on art and fashion collective The Pacific Sisters. Their exhibition Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists was on display at Te Papa Tongawera.

Ani O’Neill is of Cook Island and Irish descent. Having graduated in 1994 with BFA (Sculpture) Elam School Of Fine Arts,  University of Auckland, Ani lives and works fulltime as an artist in Rarotonga, Cook Islands and Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. She makes objects and installations primarily utilising Pacific Islands’ craft skills that have been passed down to her from her Cook Islands grandmother. These techniques include traditional costume for celebration as well as tivaevae (quilt making), embroidery, sewing and crochet, which have been adapted from the colonial teachings of missionary wives by the women of the Cook Islands and the greater Pacific. Imbued in her art works are the rich histories and memory that is inherent in these techniques. Her work has also been experienced throughout the Pacific Islands, Australia and the USA, through objects, video, site-specific and interactive installations and workshops as well as performance/installation with the Pacific Sisters collective.

Karl Fritsch began his education at the Goldsmiths School in Pforzheim and later studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Fritsch has taught in art schools across the world, exhibited internationally and his work has been acquired for public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the National Gallery of Victoria. His highly covetable rings have seen him win numerous awards and become a cult figure in contemporary jewellery. He also works collaboratively with a range of artists, including artist Francis Upritchard and furniture designer Martino Gamper.

Rufus Knight and Mijntje Lepoutre, Untitled (Presque Rien), The Room, 2019, Objectspace. Image: Samuel Hartnett.

Ani O’Neill, Promise Me / Trust Me, curated by Ane Tonga for The Room, 2019, Objectspace. Image: Samuel Hartnett.

Justine Olsen and Karl Fritsch, The Poet’s Room, Te Whare Toikupu for The Room, 2019, Objectspace. Image: Samuel Hartnett.

Emma Ng, The Edit for The Room, 2019, Objectspace. Image: Samuel Hartnett.