A Tender Aesthetic

Annique Heesen established Gezellig Interiors (pronounced heh-SELL-ick) ten years ago, at the tender age of 21. Since then, the designer has grown both a family (she has two children to husband Josh) and her business to include six talented creatives based across the country, creating spaces that speak to the soul and embody the company’s name: a Dutch term that connotes time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, and general togetherness. Annique speaks to Monica Tischler about the ingredients that go into designing some of New Zealand’s most beautiful homes. Hint: furniture from Ligne Roset is often a key component. 

Describe your personal design style.

Relaxed, romantic, and family-centred. I travel regularly with my family; seeing the way in which other cultures and countries live, eat and gather is something that’s been instilled in me from a young age. Those moments of really surrendering to a different way of doing things are the most inspiring. The amount of historical significance in sites sits deeply with me and inspires a lot of our work, by using old techniques and methods. We also use a lot of natural materials, and the work of local craftsmen and women. There’s something about handmade that speaks to me. 

What are your non-negotiables or must-haves when designing a project? 

An open mind, and a shared trust between our client and designers. I think having intuition with a client's needs and wants is a critical element to making a space work for them. We tell all our clients from the outset to be open to doing something they wouldn’t usually do. However, it has to be right for them, and not just because we have a big design idea. It's the client’s home, and it needs to make sense to them. 

How do you balance work and personal life?

You can’t have everything at once with balance. I try to focus on just letting it be, and accepting that things won’t always be perfect. I prioritise being present when I’m with my kids and at work. I’d rather be a hundred percent engaged for ten minutes than be half there, half somewhere else for an hour. Taking time for myself to allow a walk in the forest or a swim in the lake is incredibly grounding for me. My husband is also very supportive and home schools our children for three days; they attend a nature school during the rest of the week. 

You source a lot of pieces for your projects from the Auckland showroom of contemporary French furniture brand Ligne Roset. Describe the power that a piece of Ligne Roset furniture brings to a space… 

Its enduring designs bring a sense of elegant yet easy living. I actually have a Togo settee at home and my kids give it a run for its money, but the Togo always wins. I love that it’s buildable. As a family, we buy a piece each year and eventually we will have a full set. It's low, comfortable, flexible, family-friendly and a classic design. I also love that with the right fabric you can add some juxtaposed colour. I remember first seeing Togo in an Amsterdam interiors store when I was travelling as a teenager, and thinking it was the most comfortable and classic piece. 

Discover more of the pieces Annique loves at Ligne.nz