Ben Crawford is one incredibly motivated dude!
Following the success of his partnership with sister Libby on The Block last year, they set up their own creative agency which has been bursting with exciting and varied clients ever since. He has picked up a regular column sharing his ideas and observations on the design world for the Auckland Herald and just for fun, decided to travel the country to hunt out and photograph the coolest cafes NZ has to offer!
The result is the beautiful glossy publication; Built for Caffeine . Studio Home is lucky enough to be one of the first to share this peep inside the pages with you and an interested insight into the project from Ben below.
- How did this project initially take form? Pure coffee addiction?
I’ve always found cafés to be inspiring where there seems to be a license to use items in weird and wonderful ways to create a unique sense of place. It’s a freedom not often seen in residential design. Because of that, they are great subject matter for a photographer and I’d thought about creating a book on the interiors of cafes for a few years.
But as these these tend to do, my interest in the spaces evolved. I wanted to know why the café’s looked the way they do. Who was behind them? What was their story and how did they go about designing the space.
Which lead me to my final purpose of the book. To use the unique fit-outs of cafés around the country, and the stories of the people that created them, to provide inspiration for home design. Because if it works in a café, then why not at home? If you think about it, it makes sense. Cafés create a sense of community, belonging and communal living. They enable conversations. Provide places to relax. Create meeting spots. Just like a home should. And I wanted to give readers tangible ideas to take home with them, by highlighting features within each café that could be adapted into a home.
- How long did the project take from concept to completion? What did you enjoy most about the process?
The idea had been in germination for about two years before I made contact with Beatnik, my publisher. Their enthusiasm and support of the concept gave me the confidence to go out and do it. So from that point, until the time the book goes on sale, will be another year.
I traveled sporadically for about 4 months (when I could get away from running our agency) capturing the images and talking to the designers, owners and architects. After nailing Auckland, I went up north to Rawene in the Hokianga, down to Tauranga, Taupo, Cambridge, Wellington then to Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.
Some of the most rewarding aspects of the process were the discussions I had with the people. Each story was so different and inspiring for a variety of reasons. For some it was a dream they had always had, another was inspired by their Grandmother, some continued on with their vision when they were told it wouldn’t work and others it was a commercial business decision.
I took approximately 20,000 images of which just over 400 made the book
I wrote over 50,000 words during the process
I travelled around 6,000km to collect the images and the stories
- You’ve pulled together a collection of super cool kiwi interior design…but out of everything you saw, what features were your favourite?
Wow, where do I start? That’s like being asked to pick your favourite child!
I love the perfect combination of rough sawn macrocarpa, cinder blocks and concrete that Jack Candlish pulled together to create Hangar in Wellington. If I could recreate that in a home, I would.
Also in Wellington at the Six Barrel Soda Co, they have the most amazing chalkboard that runs the length of the café with a peg rail above it. It would be an awesome additional to a residential hallway – part coat rack, part message board.
I have a crush on the combination of lights at Shaky Isles in Auckland.
There’s a quartet of young kiwis who opened Storehouse in Taupo earlier this year with a mightily sexy, retro-inspired, geometrically patterned feature wall that’s pretty choice.
Would you like a bach that looks like Hummingbird in Christchurch? Yes please.
Man, there’s just too many, I’ll end up listing the whole book again!
- Who do you think this book would most appeal too?
I’d like to think it holds a broad appeal to anyone interested in design, architecture or even cafés and of course home owners. Because I’m not a trained professional I’ve written it for the ‘person on the street’ – it’s not intellectual and there aren’t any industry ‘barriers’ so to speak. In saying that, I’d like to think it appeals to even the staunchest of design aficionados who’d proudly add it to their book collection.
You can purchase Built for Caffeine online and soon will be spotting it in major bookstores.