A professional resource for the design curious

Join the global
design collective

Available in print
and online.

Indesign Magazine
Indesign Magazine


New Zealand-based designer Simon James (Simon James Design) is challenging the tradition of the “one-trick” designer, creating the perfect blend of commercial and residential product.


August 11th, 2015

I’m actually not sure why we as an industry do this. It could be that designers have their break-through product and we choose to define them by it from then on. It could be that one area is more lucrative than the other and so their efforts become based on getting paid. Or, quite simply, it could just be that they have specifically crafted their identity to be “only-commercial” or ”only-hospitality”. I mean, look at Marcel Wanders or Naoto Fukasawa for example; wouldn’t you love to see what a Marcel Wanders task chair looks like? Or a Fukasawa sit-to-stand?

Whatever the reason, the era of the “one-trick icons” seems to be fading away, and the market is demanding more from their designers who can deliver on multiple briefs and skill sets.




While so far, there are few who have nailed this challenging dynamic, clever designers such as Simon James are rising to occasion; pioneering a strong movement toward a multi-faceted design approach.

Established in 1998 as a vehicle to distribute his work, and to introduce international brands to the New Zealand market, Simon James Design is a committed to developing and manufacturing innovative contemporary furniture for both the residential and commercial market.

Simon graduated with a Bachelor of Spatial Design from Auckland University of Technology in 1996. Shortly after this he began producing his own work with a strong emphasis on function and attention to detail. His work has been exhibited in a number of countries including Tokyo, New York and Milan.



Today, alongside the core Simon James Design collection is a carefully selected range of products that are representative of the best international and local design talent.



Simon’s approach to design as creative problem solving rather than sector-specific has attracted a flock of collaboartors to is talent, including leading names such as: Established & Sons, Swedese, Jasper Morrison, Barber & Osgerby, Erwan & Rowan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic and fellow Kiwi designers David Moreland, Jamie McLellan and Resident.




As well as developing the core range, Simon James Design works regularly with other professionals from the design industry, particularly architects and specifiers, who are in need of innovative furniture and lighting solutions. This is a process that often involves designing a new product from scratch and collaborating with the client to ensure their needs are met. Some of these large-scale projects have included supplying furniture to Air New Zealand, Westpac, BNZ, Auckland University, Vodafone, Brickbay Sculpture Trail, Department of Labour, The Hilton and Microsoft.



Simon James Design continues to offer a commitment to quality with a knowledgeable, flexible and efficient approach to design within a friendly, relaxed environment – and this is really the key. Product designers have the potential to make positive impacts across multiple industries and Simon James is an excellent example of this approach.

Simon James Design has a long-term commitment to continue finding new ways to service those interested in some of the most innovative design solutions this country and the world has to offer. We hope others follow his lead.

Simon James Design is distributed in Australia exclusively through District.

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed