Inside the world of ultra-rich designs

New Zealand’s rich and famous don’t just want the most luxurious and expensive home on the block: they want a work of art.

Architect Daniel Marshall says the shift in clients’ needs and attitudes began two decades ago.

Before that time, people wanted to do things cheaply. The idea of ​​a more refined home with larger budgets didn’t emerge until the early 2000s,” he says.

“Now people want customized solutions on private plots of land. We are joking in the office now because there are only tough spots left.”

Architect Francis Whitaker, known for his work around Queenstown, says the homes he builds are “simple homes in a beautiful setting.”

“If you don’t have the environment, you won’t work, and we have the most amazingly beautiful physical environments,” he says.

His clients are well-traveled and educated Life Aesthetics. They don’t offer what he calls a “greedy brief,” but rather focus on what gives them personal pleasure.

“They care about beauty, lifestyle, health and well-being, and their families; they are amazing valued people who contribute to their communities. They know they have to pay for something really special, and they do their research meticulously,” he says.

“They understand what you are saying. It is very comforting to analyze the site with them so that they understand the climate issues in New Zealand.”

Marshall said his clients often have very specific requirements not only for specialty rooms such as home offices, cinema-quality media rooms or independent accommodations, but also for air quality, soundproofing and ventilation, private landscaping and sustainability.

little black book

“There has been a seismic shift in New Zealand and the world in terms of healthy environments, comfort and performance. We are also talking about resilience – having their own solar arrays and batteries, water supply and so on.

But custom-made artwork doesn’t come cheap.

Marshall says buyers will look to costs at least $8,000 to $10,000 per square meter for things like exposed wood and fine craftsmanship, not counting engineering, earthworks or landscaping.

The supply chain problems caused by the Covid virus did not help. “We had to make decisions about the supply chain in our designs, the cost of things and what we could replace. For a recent project, we used a German ventilated clay block and imported direct European triple-glazed joinery,” he says.

A city beach project of more than 1,500 square meters is likely to cost more than $12 million, and includes a basement warehouse for the 10 owners’ cars.

Interior designer James Dole, who has worked with wealthy Diane Forman on many of her home’s renovations, says projects can take as little as three months, but others can last up to three years.

“The interiors of the new Victoria Lane apartments [in Auckland’s Remuera]We put that together with developer Richard Kroon and Leuschke Architects over two to three years,” he says, adding that internal budgets can run into the millions of dollars.

Doole is based on a New Zealand black book that makes people custom-made furniture, lighting and fixtures, and importers of fine antique furniture from Europe. “They can do anything. Sometimes with international customers we will shop abroad, but we try to keep it local,” he says.

However, it is not always about creating ultramodern concrete and glass buildings.

Auckland real estate agents Terry and Diana King set up their agency, Remuera Register, to nurture their passion for interior design, and now they’re helping buyers see the potential for modernization – but not much – of the massive old mansions they are selling.

hidden from view

“When people do their due diligence, they bring in their architect. The thing that hit me is that I can see what a house should be like, and love it when it comes out just as I saw it,” he says, relaying a list of must-have architects and designers. Own them in the city.

Many of them declined to participate in the OneRoof article, citing client confidentiality. They rarely enter awards, their work is not featured in magazines, and some of their projects never appear on their websites.

Jason Bonham, who runs a design practice with offices in New Zealand and Los Angeles, says most people have no idea how many high-end projects are in New Zealand. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding, people only see mid-level projects in magazines, but the higher end is incredible,” he says.

“We’ve done a $10 million renovation of the architecture and interiors, and that doesn’t include art. In the past five years, we’ve brokered $20 million in artwork through an art gallery in New York for our clients.”

Like his colleagues, Bonham is confidential to his private clients, but he says there are clients with budgets ranging from $10 million to $20 million for their New Zealand homes.

“There is a lot of wealth here. It is very quiet and completely different, a mixture of self-made and old money.”

“International clients are very involved in their local communities. They can bring $40 million to $50 million into the community.”

Bonham says every project is different. “No budget. We can never repeat anything, because these people are connected in social circles and do a lot of entertainment at home, so we keep an inventory so that we do not repeat the same thing in their friends’ homes.”

Bonham says he is often called upon again every four or five years by clients to update interior décor or rework their furniture and color schemes. “Because of Covid, people were living at home a lot – they weren’t traveling or on the boat – so they wanted to be surrounded by more comfort and great art.”

But the public rarely sees that comfort or art. Most luxury homes are well hidden, says Bonham, for good reason. “Owners want ample lifestyle space, privacy and a real sense of security. There are plenty of high-tech security devices – hidden cameras, microphones, etc. – in their homes.

“There are places in Bay of Islands, Matakana, and Waiheke – big homes you wouldn’t know about. They can be anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 square meters to fit art collections, cars, and furniture.”

Accordingly, they will come

Whitaker says his Australian clients love homes that make the most of the pleasant climate, while Americans love being in a safe haven in the farthest corner of the world. He says many Americans like that New Zealand’s mountain communities are still relatively even compared to the class resorts back home.

It doesn’t hurt that luxury homes also appreciate faster than regular real estate, Whitaker says.

They are smart investors, and they know the stock market. they can sell [a house] He said, referring to the planned luxury Millbrook community, outside of Arrowtown, where homes that originally sold for $1.3 million now sell for $5 million.

Barfoot & Thomson agent Paul Neshausen knows that there is a high demand for designer homes completed to the “Vogue” standard; He regularly hears from clients who have between $10 and $15 million to spend on those homes.

The problem, Nishausen says, is that there aren’t many homes like this one. “I keep telling the developers, just design it and they’ll come.”

He says some developers are hesitant to build these kinds of big, expensive homes because, right now, there’s a lot of wrestling with councils for approvals, followed by more wrestling with how hard it is to get them through building supplies.

“What was perhaps an 18-month build of a $12 million luxury mansion has no final date in sight,” he says.

PayPal billionaire and New Zealand passport holder Peter Thiel knows this pain point all too well. His massive home near Wanaka was recently accepted by Queenstown Lake District Council planners “because of negative landscaping results”.

The grass-roofed complex is 330 m long, with 10 guest accommodation units above a basement of 1165 m2, a private owner’s room of 565 m2, a meditation building, and other administrative buildings too large for the rural area and great landscape.

The ultra-modern, underground home with floor-to-ceiling glass walls was designed by Japanese firm Kengo Kuma & Associates who also designed the 68,000-seat Japan National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics. Time will tell if it goes ahead.

– one roof