At Work with Rufus Knight

Featured Creative

Photographer Apela Bell
At Work with Rufus Knight

Rufus Knight is the founder of Knight Associates — an architecture and interior design studio established in 2016. Knight created the refined interiors of our Simon James Stores situated in Newmarket and Herne Bay.

When do you feel most creative?

When I’m under pressure.

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

Pinned up on the walls of my office are pages from the Masters thesis I’m currently completing at Victoria University. My focus is practice-based research which is helping me to position my work within the discipline and better understand what underpins my primary fascinations within creative practice.

How does this space function?

My office is on a mezzanine at the back of our studio. It’s very private and very quiet. I have a long walnut table, designed by Henry Wilson, in the centre and a few Carl Hansen chairs. Material samples and books are piled up at the end closest to my computer while the other end is used for meetings and workshops with my team.

Who inspires you and your work?

My dad was a geography teacher so I had an engagement with nature from a young age and, reflecting on this, my practice is strongly inspired by the richness, variety, and permanence of the natural landscape. However, rather than simply a biophilic response that mimics the forms found in nature, or framing the gaze across landscapes, my creative practice is focused on understanding the embedded identity of materials and creating enduring spaces that respond to place. Although, my particular experience is related to the New Zealand landscape there is a universality harboured within this fascination that appeals strongly to me.

Who are your favourite designers and artists right now?

My friends Nat Cheshire and Katie Lockhart are very important to me. I think responding to and being influenced by your peers has a compounding effect on your practice. It makes me more critical of my own work, more self-aware, and makes me work harder to understand how my contribution is different. Similarly, the architects that I collaborate with - such as Fearon Hay, Bossley’s, and Monk Mackenzie - help me to demonstrate the richness and added value that well-considered interiors can offer. Farther afield, Australian Architects Glenn Murcutt and Kerry Hill have recently been touchstones for developing an empathic appreciation for design that responds to landscape and culture. Christian Liaigre remains a perennial reference for all my work.

Featured above and below the Ariake Armchair by Gabriel Tan for Ariake

Tell us what you like about Ariake Armchair & Fulcrum Lamp for your space?

The Ariake armchair was one of the furniture company’s first collaborations with designer Gabriel Tan. I like that its synthesis of traditional timber construction and modern machining has established a clear intent for the brand.

The Fulcrum lamp, designed by Cheshire Architects, I think, is a benchmark for object design in New Zealand and a microcosm of Cheshire’s creative practice. The weightiness of the silicone-cast bronze base and the delicacy of the paper shade goes some way toward capturing an essence of the New Zealand landscape: monolithic below, airy above. A transfiguration occurs as the dense material properties belie a soft and tactile form and the hidden dimmer and switch demonstrate a genuine consideration of function and use – both characteristics, I would say, are hallmarks of Cheshire's work. And it also doubles as a great bookend.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

Gilt, our second restaurant project with Josh and Helen Emett opens next week on O’Connell St. in Auckland. Our third retail store with Kowtow will open later this month in Naarm. We have a large-scale residential refurbishment in Coatesville nearing completion and the first stage of a large residential complex at Tara Iti that will be completed mid-November. Next year we’re excited about breaking ground on residential projects in Christchurch and Queenstown and some prospective resort work in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.