Wearable Art - Jo Baker
There’s a brand new wearable art concept store in town – it’s housed in an Italianate villa called Borgo di Chianti, just past Ransom Winery. Owner Josephine Baker’s vision puts a Zen angle on everything instore: clothes, ceramics, jewellery, bags, shoes, woodcarvings, paintings. Everything is handmade, with an elegant, monochrome aesthetic that sits somewhere between Japan and Scandinavia. “I want it all to look like it’s from the same family, so everything works together seamlessly,” Jo says.
Tapping into the increasing reluctance of local lifestylers to brave the Auckland traffic for their city retail fix, Jo is stocking the work of a group of very cool young Karangahape Rd fashion designers. Lela Jacobs is becoming increasingly well-known for her minimalist, androgynous clothes crafted from linen, silk, merino and occasionally leather. But she also “gets distracted” by creating ceramics and jewellery – her long tassel necklaces made from horsehair with ceramic stocks are also at Borgo di Chianti. Lela works with other creatives out of her K’Rd studio known as ‘The Keep’. But she grew up at Brick Bay where her father managed the farm. “It’s a reconnection with my past, coming up here,” Lela says.
Jo discovered Lela’s clothes a while ago and has become one of her biggest fans. She’s been systematically stocking her own wardrobe with Lela Jacobs clothes and getting rid of everything else. “Her aesthetic is everything I love,” says Jo. “I feel I’ve come full circle, since my wedding dress in the 70s was a simple long silk shift. Lela’s work is timeless – and comfortable too. I’ve made a serious commitment to supporting her – and if I can share her with friends up here, all the better!”
Christopher Duncan is a contemporary weaver; his partner Joseph Yen creates ‘Thyen Metalworks’ – beautifully rough jewellery, often in darkly-oxidised silver. They work together at ‘Tür’, another creative space just along from The Keep. Their work is earthy, textural and very wearable. Christopher’s extraordinary weavings include kaftans and kimonos and can be worn over virtually anything.
Other designers at Chianti include: local artist Lindsay Blanchett Burton, whose textured monochrome paintings and original prints complement the aesthetic; Boud van den Bemd’s extraordinary large-scale woodcarvings, John Mulholland indoor and outdoor sculpture, ceramic artist Meighan Ellis’s delicate ceramic vessels, John-Troy O’Sullivan’s exceptional lighting and sculptural jewellery, Lewis Fredericks handcrafted buffalo horn eyewear (from June) and Rowan Baker’s handmade wooden clocks. Jo’s son Rowan also makes a cult Scandinavian lawn game called Kubb from carved ash and oak; Jo herself designs buffalo horn jewellery and will soon have painted bags and shoes instore.
Jo Baker is an ex-TVNZ marketing executive, a long-term naturopath and is also a internationally-known trainer in connected horsemanship – but it’s her most recent retail incarnation which may be her most inspired.
Borgo di Chianti | 73 Valerie Close, Warkworth | T: 09-422 3494 | Fri-Sun 12-5pm