A fortunate mistake – visiting Design on James


The doctor at the Hauora tells me I haven’t been for two years and takes the opportunity to interrogate me and update records and information. It must have been exciting because when I leave I turn down the wrong side road and instead of driving towards the Wairoa and Downtown Tauranga I’m sedately cruising up the No Exit, James Road. A memory stirs. I’ve been here before. On my own unannounced and unticketed garden trail I’m back at Design on James. This time the garden isn’t open to the public but the design studio is open.

My tyres crunch on Provence-reminiscent gravel and I walk through the enormous doors into the luxe barn style building. Under a white, limewashed ceiling it’s full of décor treasures and ideas. Over the outdoor garden and seating is a huge circular wreath swathed in white and silver decorations in anticipation of a Christmas gathering. Amongst the indoor treasures, fabric, furniture, cushions (and gorgeous small, white fluffy dog) are examples of original work of Tauranga artist’s I see the geographically referenced work of Doreen McNeil. The designer tells me that she is often asked for advice about art works for new and established homes. Even though I tell the designer I’m only there because I got lost, she’s pleasant, talkative and explanatory.

The side roads of Te Puna and rural Tauranga contain many surprises, fruit, flowers, plants and produce roadside stalls, home based businesses and Design on James. The studio is at 24 James Road, Te Puna. Telephone 07 552 4060. There’s a website www.designonjames.co.nz

Rosemary Balu


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