Date9 May 2023
Cook's Company: Nicholas Stevens and Deborah Smith
Three quick questions with the makers of a Cook & Company's storage system
We ask Nicholas Stevens and Deborah Smith three questions about the new jewellery storage system they've made for Cook & Company.
What kind of life (real or imagined) does jewellery have within your storage system?
Our storage system is a jewellery box disguised as a dolls house. It offers a safe place for jewellery to hide in.
What informed your response to the brief?
One Saturday morning we overheard a radio interview with a professional thief. Wide-eyed we listened as the thief calmly explained that electronic equipment was generally, of no interest to them anymore - jewellery was the goal. Small, easily transportable and highly valuable. We've all heard a heart-breaking story of a cache of family heirlooms being stolen.
We've long admired Octavia's work and sport her cameos. We're also hoping to engage her to make one for our beloved late dog, Vita. To keep our Octavia's safe, plus other small treasures, we've decided to make a dolls house, to throw the thief off the scent. Our house riffs on traditional dollhouses, the Hastings Net shops in England and our Te Henga beehives. We'll add in a bit of luxe as Octavia does- a quatre foil or two... a little shout out to Elsa Peretti at Tiffanys & Van Cleef and Arpels.
Our miniature house will have several pieces of furniture and secret floor cavities to hide things in. We're really going to throw that thief off the scent... as long as they don't have a young child.
We are collaborating with the Woodworker, Emile Drescher to construct the house and furniture.
"Miniature is one of the refuges of greatness" — Bachelard
What is your relationship with jewellery?
Nicholas - I buy it for my wife!
I love the work of Karl Fritsch, Elsa Peretti, Georg Jensen and Octavia Cook of course. I wear a platinum wedding band, a Georg Jensen watch, a Matthew McIntyre Wilson Matariki bracelet & a pounamu pendant made by Anton Forde.
Deborah - I receive it gratefully!
I love my grandmother's charm bracelet, my Karl Fritsch rings, my Georg Jensen watch and my Octavia skull cameo which I wear in the style of the photographer John Guttman, to help ward off death. Our favourite pieces of jewellery are the little enamelled brooches of happyspace creatures made by Deborah's brother Tyrone Smith, who died in 2018.
More About Nicholas Stevens and Deborah Smith
Nicholas Stevens & Deborah Smith have been partners since 1988. They live in an oversized dolls house with their Italian Greyhound called Nina Simone. Their creative lives have always been interwoven.
Nicholas Stevens is a Tāmaki Makaurau-based architect. He established Stevens Lawson Architects with Gary Lawson in 2002. The practice works across the spectrum of architectural design and has received numerous awards for architecture, most recently the John Scott Award for Public Architecture for HomeGround. Model making is an intrinsic part of the practice’s design process.
Deborah Smith MNZM (services to children and art) has been a photographer since 1985 and a teacher since 1992. She has shown in many public galleries ever since. Her favourite site has been the street. In 2008 she established Cloud Workshop, a project that provides art & solidarity for bereaved young people - a punk act of love for the community.