At Work With Mahsa Willis

Featured Creative

Photographer Rob Tennent
At Work With Mahsa Willis

Mahsa was founded in 2015 by Mahsa Willis, a long time friend of Simon James Stores. Known for her romantic and timeless designs Mahsa continues to recreate meaningful pieces for your everyday wardrobe. We visited Mahsa at her studio to learn what inspires her and what is home base to her ready to wear collections.

When do you feel most creative?

I feel most creative after watching an incredible film, relaxing in my home, after a surf, hanging with family, and conversing with open-hearted engaging people. Living in and around the natural world is a powerful mood enhancer and creative elixir for me.

Tell us about the inspiration and ideas around your showroom/studio space.

I have slowly pieced the Mahsa showroom together myself, painted walls, invested in some mid-century furnishings, Hotaru lights, Noguchi lamp, "new moon to new moon" art by Kate van der Drift, my Clerici Chair feels at home here, with its clean, modernist lines and natural timber. I like natural organic moods and lean towards wabi-sabi aesthetics. Beautiful lighting and Aesop scent always complete the atmosphere. My pottery collection is also something I enjoy using and looking at. Our Margi Nuttall vessels work well in the showroom and enjoy sitting together as a still life.

It is essential that my team feel inspired and enjoy working here. It's an oasis for us all. It is our hope that people think this when they walk in.

Clerici Chair by Mattiazzi and Torso Lamp in Sand by Menu.
Mahsa wears the Everyday Blouse & Travel Pant in Paloma Silk by Mahsa.

How does this space function?

This is our central meeting point; we design and run our e-commerce business from here. We run meetings and show ranges here. The rooms in the villa allow space to attend to different functions, which works well. Grey Lynn has always been a home away from home for me. I spent my university years living here, studying, and working. The nostalgia is real.

Who inspires you?

Fashion-wise: Jil Sander, Lemaire and The Row. I enjoy their quiet elegance and emphasis on high-end craft. Sophie Buhai's nostalgic jewellery and accessories always inspire me, as does her imagery.

In terms of artists, I have been obsessing over Ruth Van Beck's work recently and I also love Anoushka Akel – I would love to own a piece from her recent exhibition (Michael Lett Gallery).

And for films, at the recent Film Festival I saw an incredible costume drama called: "Corsage", which was hugely inspiring. I could not stop thinking about it for days.

Tell us why you chose the Hotaru Pendants and the Clerici Chair.

Both pieces are organic and understated– they are very minimalist, which I enjoy in the villa setting. They are right at home here, quietly.

Masha wears the Signature Emerald Cut Button Back Ring by Jessica McCormack

What other pieces from Simon James do you personally resonate with?

I love the work of Sophie Buhai, Aesop, SURFACE, Margi Nuttall, Tekla, Fourth St (especially the Solid Oak Egg). Jessica McCormack makes dream jewllery. I use and cherish all of these designers most days and go without and save up when I run out. I have recently enjoyed the SURFACE handwash – the scent resonates long after use.

Who and where do you imagine wearing your pieces?

I imagine my pieces travelling and being worn by people who prefer quiet elegance, timeless dressing and trans seasonal ease. - Marta Cyan @lifeofboheme ~ ultimate muse.

What is next for you and for Mahsa?

Summer is always a time to unfurl, kick back and dress up or down. This has been a rollercoaster of a year so the team is looking forward to Christmas and having some time to reflect on the year that has been, as well as focus on all of the fantastic challenges that 2023 will bring. More travel is on the agenda!

Featuring the Shoji Screen & Sake Side Table by Ariake & Ursula Vase in Natural by Margi Nuttal

Discover Mahsa online here