You may have not realized the talent that lies beyond Wānaka’s exterior beauty, extreme athletes, and gorgeous seasons. Scratch just below the surface and find an incredibly talented creative and design scene.
Toi is an event held over a weekend in October to celebrate of the arts and excellence in the Wānaka region. Take a look back at the inaugural iteration of what will become a yearly event.
The weekend saw many local artists open their studios. From pallet knife painters, jewelers, photographers, to water colourists, this was a rare opportunity to view and meet the artists themselves. Some artists you may recognize were Jane Sinclair, Susie Ruddenklau, Amy Bixby Jewelery and Alice Herald.
Toi is as much about looking and learning as it is about getting involved and learning through doing. That’s why the workshops during Toi were humming. Revology held some up-cycling workshops which involved turning old rubber into new everyday items. The Plant Collective shared their extensive knowledge on indoor plants in a “plant doctor” style workshop in their beautiful new store in The Precinct. Perriam brought in their master knitter to teach new stitches and techniques – their shop looked like a production line for their latest collection! Melanie Craig’s On Point studio held many workshops over the weekend which were well attended by home owners keen to learn more about interiors ranging from kitchen to wallpaper and mood boards.
It wouldn’t be a complete weekend without a reason to dress up and drink champagne. Friday night saw a local photography exhibition at Lipsky & Sons. Saturday, a “Conversation of Timeless Design” between Alice Herald, Alex Guichard, Britt Davies and Ed Cruikshank. And to round it off a Sunday brunch session from new-to-the-region designers – graphic design house Studio Acht and beauty product business Kester Black, on how to run a creative business from Wānaka. There was also busking in Busker’s Square in front of Kai Whakapai all weekend long.
Wānaka has some of the best boutique stores in New Zealand. Toi not only highlighted this, but provided an opportunity to learn while you shop! 47 Frocks, home to many New Zealand design brands, had Sarah from Company of Strangers in store to chat design. Across the street, at DEVaL, were capsule styling and demonstrations. Common People, a local bag brand put on a party, complete with champagne, a DJ and of course, shopping.
Great places attract great people, and this is certainly the case in Wānaka. For such a small population, there is a good proportion of designers and design stores. During Toi, visitors got to hear about pounamu carving, leather making and laser cutting from small business owners. Wilson & Dorset is a locally-owned luxury sheepskin product that you can find in many houses around New Zealand, Toi was an opportunity to listen to the owners and hear about their journey. Claire from Cakes of Wānaka not only makes delicious cakes, but she is an edible artist too. During Toi she made a cake that resembled a Marchesa dress.
Along with the weekend design efforts, we have to mention the brand identity for Toi itself – The word ‘toi’ often translated as knowledge, skill, excellence, source, origin or mastery. Engaging with local Maori graphic designer, Britt Davies from Studio Acht, the brand reflects the history of Wanaka, its bold strength in unity moving forward.
Keep an eye out for the second iteration of Toi in Spring 2021. For festival updates, follow Toi on Instagram.