Design: A Lovely way to buy gifts

A new gift website takes the guesswork out of buying presents, writes Ben Crawford.

Sarah Melrose, left, and George Kivell set up The Lovely after planning their own weddings.
Sarah Melrose, left, and George Kivell set up The Lovely after planning their own weddings.

It's tough buying presents for friends and family, especially those intended for their homes. That's because our houses are personal spaces, filled with a collection of items curated over time and it's difficult for an outsider to perfect that same look with a one-off gift. Maybe the style isn't quite right, maybe it doesn't fit or maybe it's just plain ugly.

When it comes to buying homeware for someone else, often it's best to follow the guys' guide to buying lingerie. Unless you're 100 per cent sure, it's probably best to buy a voucher.

But how dull are vouchers? As a giver, you don't feel overly creative and the receiver is probably thinking "thanks mate, you really put a lot of thought into my gift this year".

This less-than-enthusiastic feeling towards vouchers is often compounded when it comes to buying presents for life's big events, such as weddings and milestone birthdays, which are times you'd consider buying presents for the recipient's home.

So what do you do?

Weddings can be a little easier because, typically, the bride and groom will create a registry filled with the items they'd love to receive as congratulatory gifts. Or is it?

Do you really think the groom wants that set of Egyptian cotton sheets with the incredible thread count? Hmm. Not so much. He wants a barbecue and powertools. Or does the bride-to-be need another dinner set to add further cupboard clutter? I don't
think so.

This was the conundrum Auckland creatives Sarah Melrose and George Kivell encountered when they began planning their own weddings late last year. It inspired them to solve the problems they faced by creating The Lovely, a personalised online registry that is turning gift-giving on its head.

"A registry is typically the first touch-point guests have with a wedding, along with the invitation," says Melrose. "As a designer, I wanted my registry to reflect me and my wedding and not be a standardised offering provided by a department store."

For Kivell, The Lovely provides endless options and variety. "Our site allows people to get exactly what they want on their special day, whether that be a water-blaster or a designer duvet cover, because they're not limited to the stock from a single retailer."

The Lovely provides users with gift inspiration and suggestions from New Zealand designers to begin building a registry, but it's the Pinterest-like methodology of collecting and sharing items from any store on the internet to create a personalised wish-list that means the restrictions of a traditional registry no longer exist.

If the bride wants to add something from her favourite store in the UK she can and her guests are able to buy it. And if the groom's must-have items are on TradeMe or at the local hardware store, he can add them as well with a click of the button.

It's a modern solution to a modern way of living where many couples have already amassed the homeware essentials of yesteryear's registry well before the big question has been popped and have grown up in the internet age with freedom of choice.

After browsing through The Lovely website and finding some of my favourite designers on there - Douglas + Bec, Father Rabbit, Citta Design and Superette - I found myself wishing I was in the market for a wedding registry to enhance my home with pieces that would complement the items I have already.

But luckily weddings aren't the only use for The Lovely's platform, because you can't rush a proposal just for the gifts now can you?

Baby showers, milestone birthdays and even Christmas wish-lists are proving popular reasons for customers to create a registry.

Now, what's your opinion? Could turning 34 in December be classified as a milestone?

Find it: The Lovely Gift Registry

- Herald on Sunday

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