14 SEP 2016

The New Zealand Modern Collection – Opens 6 October

Marking five years since the opening of their Mr. Bigglesworthy store, Dan and Emma Eagle are proud to present a collection dedicated to design from New Zealand. 

View the Collection



Join us for a glass of wine and delicious canapés to preview the collection. The preview event will be held at the Mr. Bigglesworthy Gallery :

6.30pm – 8.30pm

Thursday 6 October

15 Williamson Ave, Ponsonby

Pieces from the collection will be live on our website from 10am Friday morning.


The New Zealand Modern Collection tracks the progressive thinking of modern design, which was translated to furniture and objects by a series of leading designers and architects from the 1940s to the 1970s.

The modernist designers themselves were variously migrant Europeans, back yard shed tinkerers, architects and artisans. Forward thinking stores and furniture manufacturers also feature. These companies either imported or created furniture which catered to a taste for the new.  

The New Zealand Modern Collection represents the culmination of several years the Eagles’ have spent collecting rare and unique early local work. It offers a variety of designed responses to the question of how to adapt modernist thinking to a New Zealand context. It includes the work of some of the brightest and best New Zealand’s mid century creative minds.


A Short History  

It takes time to form an identity. Being a young, far flung British colony, New Zealand was quite happy to reference the motherland for most of it's early life. Design and architecture that corresponded closely with the prim and proper British colonial style was the order of the day.   

In the 1930s, forward thinking European migrants to New Zealand found their new ideas for modern living and architecture didn’t get much support from locals – usually quite the opposite. The European led, modernist direction was a seen as a 'dangerously subversive import' in the uncertain times of the Great Depression and World War II.  

This didn’t stop brave individuals from pushing forward and sharing their ideas with a fringe group of like-minded friends and family. They built new, open plan houses that maximised living space, opened up dark walls with windows and created kitchens suited to modern lifestyles. When these pioneering architects couldn’t find furniture that suited the modern way of living, they created their own.  

These developments ushered in a new way of living in New Zealand. By the late 1940s, cutting edge architects and designers began to consider a unique identity, which referenced modern life in New Zealand. The international style of modernism developed into more of a reference point rather than a strict direction, which was interpreted in conjunction with local influences and materials. This new direction became known a Pan Pacific Modernism.  

It was the seed of an idea that became a movement which still remains a current thread through contemporary design today.

Photography by Stephen Tilley, Interior Styling by Emma Eagle

Loaned artworks by Ralph Hotere and Gretchen Albrecht thanks to Bowerbank Ninow

Featured Rugs by Darryn George, Martin Poppelwell, Michael Reed and Riduan Tompkins thanks to Dilana, represented in Auckland by Mr. Bigglesworthy

Reference / Douglas Lloyd Jenkins "At Home: A century of New Zealand Design"

More inspiration you might like

Urbis Magazine: Our Tribute to the Design Publication

Our short tribute to one of the best design magazines in New Zealand.


Modular Vintage Storage: A Buyer’s Guide

Being housebound since lockdown began, we’ve spent a lot of time musing over our walls, or more importantly what we could imagine adorning them with. Shelving, bookcases or wall units – the list could be endless but we thought, in the exercise of keeping cabin fever at bay we would profile the beautiful pieces we wouldn’t mind having.


The Ultimate Isolation Dream Houses

We are counting ourselves very lucky to be able to stay in a warm, dry, cosy house with loved ones while we take shelter during the Covid-19 lockdown. Being the design and architecture lovers that we are, we've also come up with a list of our ultimate modernist homes that we'd love to visit and definitely wouldn't mind being isolated in.


Return to Earth: A Brief History of New Zealand Ceramics

Since the lockdown came into effect in the last fortnight we’ve returned to earthy, humble basics. Daily rituals of meals, conversations and enjoying time with each other in ways the fast pace of life had previously not allowed for. With our tables covered in picked over plates of food, we are reminded of the importance of ceramics. They offer an enduring connection to what is natural, a material to demonstrate creativity and a vessel to share.