Favourite Things: Jamie McLellan

Product and furniture designer Jamie McLellan believes all objects should have a purpose

Product designer Jamie McLellan. Picture / Guy Coombes.

‘‘As consumers we are responsible for what has become an unbearable burden on the natural world,” says product designer Jamie McLellan, who creates everything from chairs and lighting to watercraft and beer taps. McLellan wants to create objects that not only look and behave elegantly, but do so efficiently and thoughtfully.

“Designers feed consumption and play an important role in both choosing what to design and in defining what people should buy.”

Wellington-born McLellan got his start in the industry at Fisher & Paykel, before working abroad under mentors such as Hisham Kulhanek in Italy, Robert Stroj in Hawaii and Tom Dixon in London.

Now running his own business back in Auckland, McLellan strives to create objects that are visually balanced as well as celebrations of engineering.

He collaborates with other specialists, such as woodworkers, machinists and fabricators.

“Our work is fuelled by a desire to design objects that are wholesome, calm, considerate and of real substance,” says McLellan. “Objects that we believe have a right to exist and we want to live with and use in our lives.”

He believes the key to being a successful designer is spending as much time listening as he does drawing.

“Being open to the input from others, being humble and not precious, in order to achieve the best possible outcome.”


Pocket Operator; Honeycomb; Coffee Maker. Pictures / Guy Coombes.

1. Pocket Operator by Teenage Engineering
The Pocket Operators are the cheaper, more accessible relations of the brilliant OP-1 synthesiser. No less beautiful and with equally captivating interfaces, they come in three versions — a drum synth, a bass synth and a melody synth. We have a couple of these in the office and they’re great little audio distractions.

2. Honeycomb
I have a piece of honeycomb that I “borrowed” from beekeeper Angus Willison. It is architecturally stunning. I’ve recently been exposed to the fascinating world of bees, and was also fortunate to meet Tomas Libertiny on his trip to New Zealand. Tomas is an artist who works with bees to create incredible sculptural pieces from honeycomb.

3. 9090 Coffee Maker by Richard Sapper for Alessi
The first thing I reach for when I crawl out of bed in the morning. I’ve had this stainless steel stove-top espresso maker for more than a decade. It’s beautiful in its unusualness. What it might lack in coffee-making consistency, it makes up for in robustness and reliability. A little coffee maker with character.

Ritual Oil Diffuser; Border Terriers. Picture / Guy Coombes.

4. Ritual Oil Diffuser by Bodha
This is a little piece of my own design, developed in collaboration with ceramic artist Gidon Bing for my friend Emily l’Ami’s brand of wellness products. By making the oil and water dish a ring shape with a central “chimney”, we managed to hide the tea light. The base has an air inlet hole that doubles as an on/off ‘switch” — cover with a finger to extinguish the flame. This added functionality was an accidental discovery.

5. Border Terriers
Best dogs ever. Small enough to fit in a backpack but fast enough to go mountain biking. Scruffy little ruff ’n’ tumblers who are also super-affectionate and personable.

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