Silly chic: Architect Gerard Dombroski gives his top tips for a fun whare

Picolo Cabin, Gerard Dombroski, Driving Creek Railway, Coromandel, 2021, foraged steel and timber. Photo: Samuel Hartnett

Compiled by Sophie Carter

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Gerard is an
architect, artist
and furniture
maker. He’s the
mastermind behind
cool spaces,
hospitality venues,
and sculptures
around the capital
and beyond.
Gerard’s steel, skate
ramp inspired
building called the
Picolo cabin made
the 2022 Dezeen
Awards longlist,
and was nominated
for the 2023
ArchDaily Building
of the Year Award.

It’s always a good time for a little home finessing; to plump the cushions, rearrange the furniture, and introduce some feng shui. And who better to ask for some homely advice than architect, artist and furniture maker Gerard Dombroski.

He tells us his design dos and don’ts, as well as some home furnishings he’d love to have in his own pad.

Favourite room to design/decorate
For me it’s any room where there’s a chance to play with natural light and an excuse for furniture or joinery; funnily enough, that almost qualifies any room. I love to design.

Your style in five words
While I try not to lock myself into one style, a friend did summarise my work along the lines of “silly chic.” I strive for simple, natural, and beautiful with a good dose of whimsy.

Biggest mistake people make when designing their homes
Forgetting where the sun is. The sun is very important to human wellbeing, mentally and physically, and there are some beautifully simple ways to use sunlight in the home to improve our daily lives.

Favourite item in your home
A painting by my friend Paul Cornwell of a little project I built in the Coromandel. He helped me with the build, so while it’s a cool picture it also highlights a special memory.

Colours you’re drawn to
Pastels, pink, blue, yellow, green – the ones that are a little punchy.

Favourite home trend for 2023
I don’t really follow trends. Trends are a slippery slope and you’re better off going your own way.

Worst trend from the past 10 years
Real estate agents may tell you to paint everything white and design around resale, but I’m an advocate for adding some personality. This could be through colour, shape, volume, texture or objects.

Take my advice:

Listen to your inner child: Sometimes I have to remind myself to be silly and to enjoy the small things. We should be a little childish with the spaces we make. Add something funny into your home – a strange bit of furniture, a weirdly small door, a net mezzanine.

Wear your heart on your shelf: The spaces I inhabit I fill with things I or my friends have made, and ideas I’m exploring. We all tie meaning and memories to objects, so there’s no need to hide everything in a cupboard for the sake of the minimalist aesthetic.

Ask for help: Often people may not think to talk to an architect, as they believe their job is too small. I think you would be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes a project can be transformed by small and simple interventions, and all it may take is a second set of eyes.

Things to love:

A shameless self-plug. This chair I designed for the Kilbirnie Café. The low back allowed the table tops to be read as ripples. I’ve developed it to have different seat base options. They’re made in my workshop here in town.

This is another chair of mine.
I welded a steel frame single-seater and a double-seater, and wove recycled pool noodles to build up the chair form.


I like Kathryn Tsui’s work and know she’s a lovely person. I don’t own any of her work at this point, but hope to in the future.
Page Galleries

This stool is so hot! Jamie Jenkins is an artist from Tauranga and I absolutely love her work.
Jhana Millers Gallery

I like indoor plants, especially in my office. My hack to keep them alive is to also get a peace lily, as the leaves go super droopy when they want water, so it reminds me to water my plants – thank me later.
Palmers Miramar


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