Favourite Things: Architect Tim Dorrington

Iconic and unique pieces, collected over the years, appeal to architect Tim Dorrington

Architect Tim Dorrington. Picture / Emma-Jane Hetherington.

Architect Tim Dorrington is a fan of the movie The Incredibles not for the show’s memorable one liners (Honey, where’s my supersuit?), but because he likes to play ‘spot the icon’ among the buildings in Metroville, the gritty city where the action takes place. “They are quite clearly modelled on the architecture of Louis Sullivan who was known as the Father of Skyscrapers,” says Dorrington. Once the characters head home to suburbia, the animated renditions are reminiscent of the Charles and Ray Eames House and the Rietveld Shroder home — more food for the soul.

Dorrington, who set up the boutique practice Dorrington Atcheson Architects 10 years ago loves the modernist movement, but mixes this influence with well-grounded Kiwi capability. In October, a home based on the forms of a tent and a shed, albeit with a sunken living room with built-in seating, received an Auckland Architecture Award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects who praised it for the sense of surprise it achieved on a modest budget.

Although he’d love to design and build his own place, Dorrington is content for now to renovate the Westmere bungalow he lives in with his wife, Emma-Jane, and their two kids (Jasper, 9, and Charlotte, 6 going on 16). When he’s not working or hanging with the kids, he’s fishing in his little runabout. He recently caught a 15-pound snapper off the coast of Kawau Island. “And I have the photo to prove it.”


Pictures / Emma-Jane Hetherington.

1. Bromley painting
Is it okay to claim one of my wife’s objects as my own? I love David Bromley’s work. He is one of Australia’s best-known living artists. When Emma-Jane turned 40, family and friends contributed to buy her one of Bromley’s nudes. She is certainly the most expensive piece we own; she’s called Kaye and she’s worth every cent.

2. Drinks trolley
This was a Trade Me find that I bought so we could instigate a “tea lady” round at the studio. We’d all take turns wheeling the trolley around with tea, coffee and biscuits for the staff. Now the trolley is at home and we use it as a drinks station. I love the ceremony of making a cosmopolitan with my copper Tom Dixon cocktail shaker. It just feels a bit special.

3. Eames bird
Emma-Jane gave me an authentic Eames house bird as a Christmas present two years ago. It’s made of alder wood with a black lacquer finish, and has fine steel legs. It lives near the top of the book shelf, so it doesn’t become a play thing for the kids.

Pictures / Emma-Jane Hetherington.

4. Our roof deck
We are on a busy main road so the house is somewhat compromised — still, when I climbed up on the roof, what a spectacular view. I have a bit of a thing for roof decks and we now have one that sits on top of the extruded timber box that houses our bedroom and a second lounge. We look out over the harbour towards the Chelsea Sugar Factory and over the park to the city. It’s perfect for sundowners and parties. Friends know to wear trainers when they come to our house because high heels are a little precarious on the stairs.

5. Glass collection
It started with a green ashtray that I inherited from Gramps and over the years, people who know I collect special glass have found and bought me pieces. Some of my favourites are Gramps’ ashtray, my poppa’s ashtray, my nana’s green glass bottle, a pink-tinted vase made in London in 1901 from my mum and an Art Nouveau decanter from the Czech Republic that Dad brought back for me.

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