Oh deer, designers embracing the quirks of life

By Zoe Walker

From books to deer heads, James McKee and Nick Shaw like to fill their office space with their collections.

James McKee and Nick Shaw in their central Auckland studio, Fracture. Photo / Babiche Martens
James McKee and Nick Shaw in their central Auckland studio, Fracture. Photo / Babiche Martens

James McKee and Nick Shaw run Fracture, an Auckland-based design company specialising in digital, branding and packaging.

The pair, who have designed and created websites for clients including architecture firm Jasmax, design company Citta Design, juice giant Charlie's and artist Luke Jacomb, work from a quirky Central Auckland studio space, complete with a wall of deer head barometers, Mad Men-inspired retro furniture and space-age rubbish bin. (Their own website is also worth visiting, it's like playing a video game: fracture.co.nz).

The stylish creative duo talk us through a few of their favourite things.


1. Luke Jacomb paddle
Luke Jacomb is arguably New Zealand's best glass-blower (go on, try to argue with us). Coincidentally, he is also an old friend of ours, so we wangled a sweet deal in exchange for one of his fine glass-blown paddles.

If downtown Auckland ever floods, we'll be one step ahead of everyone else. Now all we need is a matching glass-blown canoe.

2. Robo bin
Remember back in the olden days when you had to lift a rubbish bin lid manually? Ahhh, so quaint. Our space-age office is decked out with the future of trash receptacles: the robo bin. The bin's high-tech proximity sensors recognise impending rubbish disposal. This activates a series of internal gyroscopes, which launch the bin lid open and close it again automatically. The satisfying whirrs and clicks of the robo bin in action make chucking out stuff a real joy.

3. A&M wagyu beef burger
We're big fans of food. Agents & Merchants make one of the things we love to eat, a wagyu beef burger. Sure, the waiter might smirk a little when our entire table of 10 grown men all order the same thing but such is the power of this life-changingly delicious burger. We would also like to take this opportunity to ask A&M to bring back the curly fries. Please.

4. Having a Fiji-based beer client
If you don't have a Fiji-based beer client yet, you should get one. Ours is called Vonu Pure Lager; they're the best. Perks include "work" trips to Fiji and a steady supply of product. Drawbacks include: nothing we can think of.

5. Whisky
Here at Fracture, we like whisky and ... more whisky. So when we discovered there was a website that catered specifically to our needs, we were all like, clickity click, glug glug. Deadwood has a lot to answer for.

6. The wolf
We're lucky enough to have our own version of Pulp Fiction's Winston Wolfe. Sometimes Friday nights at the Fracture office can get a little messy. Luckily we have a man who comes in at the weekend and knows just what course of action to take. He takes care of business, cleaning with efficiency and discretion, which is just the way we like it.

7. Our wall of deer head barometers
Some people trust just one barometer, but when it comes to accurately measuring atmospheric pressure, we prefer to do things properly. That's why we have more than a dozen deer head barometers (plus a moose and a gazelle) mounted on our office wall. We don't know why we started collecting them, but we can tell you whether it is going to rain tomorrow.

8. Coffee machine
The hardest working member of the Fracture staff, our beloved Butterfly, is always under a lot of pressure. Her daily warmth provides us with inspiration, motivation and sometimes she makes our hearts skip a beat. We love you, Butterfly.

9. Mad Men series five
The latest season of Mad Men had so many awesome twists and turns, we are kind of sad that it is all over. We promise not to spoil anything, but how about that one bit where the guy in the suit does that thing and then the other guy in the suit smokes a cigarette? Draperrific viewing for the whole family.

10. Our library of design books
Nothing makes us look more like designers than our extensive library of design books. All the classics are in there: Design Volume 1, Designing Things and Stuff, and The Big Bumper Book of Design for Grown-Ups. Truth be told, we don't technically "own" most of the books; they're on long-term loan from Mr Brian Sparks (who, coincidentally, is our 11th favourite thing).

- NZ Herald

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