By Elly Leavitt

Published on March 2, 2018

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Photography by Yoan Jolly

We’re not quite sure what stereotypical New Zealand design looks like, but if the playful minimalism exhibited by Gosia Piatek’s Wellington home is any indication, we’re big fans. The Polish-born designer, she’s the founder of sustainable clothing brand Kowtow, describes her home as a “modern and minimal sea cottage”—a fairly astute description given that the ocean is literally directly in front of the house.

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“The large windows at the front of the house fill [it] with light, and in the summer I get direct sun from 7am until 9pm,” says Piatek, who splits her time between Wellington and London. “The sunset views over the ocean and South Island mountains are incredible—I miss the view everyday when I am in London.”

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The 700-square-foot home has two bedrooms and a living room that flows into the kitchen. This open floor plan makes the space feel even bigger and airier; no doubt due in part to the aforementioned massive windows, that provide a direct view of the sea.

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What’s more, it’s a minimalist home not afraid of color. Pops of bright hues crop up on an admittedly smaller scale, but they prove that simple living doesn’t have to be devoid of color entirely.

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Photography by Yoan Jolly
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Photography by Yoan Jolly

Of course, Piatek’s creative eye undoubtedly played a role in perfectly balancing bright shades with understated neutrals. She launched Kowtow in 2007, and every piece from the brand is made with ethically sourced materials. Piatek names art, culture, and craftsmanship as the key tenets of her company.

“I founded Kowtow 11 years ago with a very clear idea that I wanted to show the world that fashion can be done differently, that it can be ethical and sustainable without compromising design,” she explains.

The same simple elegance, bred out of a focus on quality materials and timeless design, rings true in her seaside home. We spoke to the designer to learn more.

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Photography by Yoan Jolly

What was your style inspiration for the home?

Color is very important to me. We discuss color in our clothing design every day so it’s only natural for me to consider this in the home, too. I have always been drawn to clean minimalist lines and mid-century. I love light colors, especially pastels.

The house is made from weatherboard built in the ’70s; when I moved in, the exterior needed a paint job, so I went for a pale blue to match the color of the sea and sky. I love this color so much. It makes me feel calm.

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How did you pull the colors you love together to create a palette?

I love pastel tones in my living environment—sage greens, blush pinks, and light greys are my favorite. When I moved in, the internal doors were already a dark charcoal color, which I actually love, too, so when I repainted the interior to freshen it up, I stayed with the charcoal.

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Photography by Yoan Jolly
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Photography by Yoan Jolly

What elements of the home did you want to play up in your design? We love the massive windows with the ocean view—were they something you wanted to highlight?

Yes, definitely. I live in a marine reserve so it’s very special. When I moved in, the house was very pokey inside. The kitchen and living room were boxed in and the bathroom was bitsy. [My] dad and I took out most of the wall and doors to open it up so the view was the focus.   

What drew you to a more minimal design?

I am a minimalist at heart. When a house is cluttered, I feel a bit panicked. Minimalism and a sense of space provide me with headspace and a place to unwind after work.

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Is minimalism indicative of your personal style, then?

Definitely. I design the clothing I wear, so home interiors is an extension of what I love to design.

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Photography by Yoan Jolly
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Is the ethical and sustainable mantra of Kowtow one you translated to your home decor? In what ways?

Having a small space helps, as you simply cannot clutter it. I love natural fibers—my sofa is made from New Zealand wool. My table is by Candywhistle and also made locally and designed by a friend. All my plates, bowls, and mugs are made by local potters Holly Houston and Paul Melser. I think by having objects in your home that have a story, you take better care of them, you treasure them.

How is the home influenced by its surroundings and your life in Wellington?

I think the easy accessibility to nature influences colors and objects I choose for my home. Wellington is an incredibly beautiful coastal city surrounded by hills and greenery. I love that I can get a great brunch, a good coffee, and visit a boutique cinema, then escape the city in 10 minutes and be at my home in a marine reserve, feeling like I am at the end of the world.

What’s your favorite part of your home?

The view!

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Photography by Yoan Jolly

See more home tours:

A Modern Bohemian Home That’s a Lesson in Living Colorfully
How One New Yorker Makes 262 Square Feet Feel Spacious
This Tiny Calgary Home Puts Our Favorite Small-Space Hacks to Use

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