Bringing the elements together

By Davina Richards  |  Images provided by Melanie Craig Design

Mel--Gay-(1)Melanie Craig Design is an independent boutique design company specialising in the entire interior system; kitchen architecture, interior architecture and lighting.

The company, established in 2005 and owned by Melanie Craig and Gaynor Rodgers, started from humble beginnings in a tin shed in Southland. Eight years later, the business has successfully grown into three working studios located in Wanaka, Timaru and Gore and picked up the Designer of the Year award in 2011.

From the young age of five, Melanie had always dreamed of having her own design company. Her dad is a builder and her mum an interior designer, so it was inevitable her creativity was fine tuned from the beginning.

With a team of six passionate and creative designers, the design experts will deliver a practical and stylish interior with a focus on detail, style, design and, most importantly, results.  Here Melanie talks about the ins and outs of her profession and passion for it.

What is the difference between an interior architecture designer and an interior designer?

Both are very creative disciplines but briefly, an interior architect designer should be registered as a trained designer. They take a more active role in the structural elements of the interior drawings and documentation, opposed to an interior designer who is more focused on the aesthetic elements.

What aspects of a room are specifically acknowledged before a project can start?

Firstly function, then an extensive list of elements needs to be considered to achieve the best desired result for clients. In our initial meetings we are very nosey; we ask lots of questions to get to know the client and this is the key to developing a great design that will work perfectly for the client.

Why did you set up Melanie Craig Design?

I’m not a designer who pens something and hands it over. I’m a start to finish girl. Function and flow. Good design is more than a concept. Good design is turning a concept into a product and orchestrating the manufacturing process to best suit the demands of the design and the needs of the client. Initially I was working in isolated areas, mainly the kitchen, which I love. The end result would look amazing however, there were too many different design ideas flowing through the home.

Gaynor, an interior designer and I joined forces to take architectural projects to a new level, infusing the kitchen and structural elements with the entire interior of the home to achieve a seamless flow though every aspect, including lighting applications. And most of all co-ordinating trades and helping clients understand the steps during the final two stressful months of a project.

How do you choose an interior architecture designer?

Carefully; remember this person is paramount to the success of achieving the best results for you. It is a close relationship therefore your design partner needs to be a good listener, inspire you and keep you energised throughout the project, and importantly your designer needs to be able to work within budgets as this is the single most stressful element if clients are misled.


What should people think about first before they start a project?

Project partners. Interview as many professionals as it takes to make informed decisions on who will partner you through the project. Get this right and the process will be enjoyable.

What common mistakes are made by clients?

Not engaging with their designer early enough in the project. A designer should be brought onboard as soon as the concepts are completed from the architect. Little things like plumbing positions or windows can affect the entire design.

What are the current trends which can be incorporated into a design?

The trend is personality; boring interiors are out. We enjoy having a lot of fun with our clients and evolving their individual ideas and needs for all aspects of the interior so they are connected and love the space they are investing in.

What has been the most frustrating thing you have had to deal with in your career so far?

Nothing is a frustration, it is a challenge that needs to be worked through. However if I had to put my finger on something, it is a client who demands a new stunning design yet compresses the brief with restrictions. As a designer we love to work through clients’ ideas with them. The perfect design is harmony between both the client and the designer. Neither one should outweigh the other.

How would you describe your personal design style?

I really like eclecticism and I love the rawness of materials in their original condition. That said, I’m also somewhat of a minimalist – which can conflict with the eclecticism. It’s a tough balancing act. This contradiction fits in with my thinking of what constitutes a good design aesthetic, that is, a sense of contrast and drama.

What was the most complex assignment you have had?

Starting Melanie Craig Design as a young 19 year old with no capital behind me, just a whole heap of passion and determination to become an industry leader in design.

What do you believe are your key strengths at Melanie Craig Design?

I think one of our team’s strengths is attitude. We set out to communicate a relaxed sense of excellence, injecting knowledge, experience, professionalism and fun to keep the project at an enjoyable level for the client. Projects are a big deal in people’s lives, it can be years of dreaming and saving. Every job is important whether it be upholstering a favourite furniture piece or talking of an entire new home design.

How do you address problems – either with clients or design?

If it’s a design block – I turn the music up really loud and sing. Often I can find inspiration from the tempo of the music.
For the client, everything is about communication. There are always solutions.

Who do you admire or follow for design influences and inspiration?

I love the energy of young designers and their “I can do this approach”. I love the wisdom of our older experienced designers; they seem to have everything in perspective. It seems the more I listen and learn about design changes, the more I realise the faster things change the more they stay the same.

For more information visit

Say something!