We chat to Marcella Biddick, who has recently opened an eclectic yet sophisticated new design nook, Ama La Vita, on Tyler Street.
Britomart: First things first, what’s the story behind the store’s name?
Marcella: Ama La Vita means “love life” in Italian. For me, it’s about coming in and finding things that you love, and about using them to create a life that you love for yourself.
If you don’t mind us saying, you’re rather fresh-faced to have started your own store! What led you to do it?
Marcella: Before this, I was actually at university studying social work, and I started to think it might be good to do something more creative. I guess the store is a starting point and I’ll see how it goes!
You’re not the first member of your family to open a store at Britomart – your parents Ronald and Natasha Biddick are the founders of RJB Design on Customs St, right?
Ha, yes, I guess you could say that retail is in my blood. Ever since I was little, I’ve been around it and over time became more and more interested in it. I’ve actually worked at RJB in customer service and ran their social media for a while.
You’re off to a good start then! This is a fairly cosy retail space and it’s hard to believe how many different items you’ve managed to fit in here – although it actually still feels really nice and spacious. Everywhere you look there’s something different.
Marcella: Yes, it is, I guess we don’t have a strong singular aesthetic, there’s a bit of everything! We went with small numbers for each product so that we could have a lot of different things and get a feeling for what people really like.
Tell us about some of these cool things you have here.
Marcella: Well, we’ve got glassware and candles from France, specialist beauty products from New Zealand, beautiful ceramics from The Alchemist’s Table – they make the plates that you’ll see in some restaurants around here, like Ghost Street, Cafe Hanoi and Ostro. We’re the exclusive distributors for those, you can’t get them in any other stores. We have some occasional chairs which have been pretty popular already… some outdoor lanterns, little classical statues, some garden pots and watering cans…
We see you have a book from Remodelista, one of our favourite design sites, as well as some other good rainy-day reading.
Marcella: Yes, we have a few different coffee table books, some classic must-read novels and a couple of self-help books. And a beautiful record player and speakers, and these gorgeous lambswool blankets from Ruanui Station, which is a family business down in Taihape.
How about these artworks?
Marcella: We’re working with Gow Langsford Gallery to sell some fresh works by New Zealand artist Chris Heaphy and Australian abstract artist Dale Frank. We’re also looking forward to bringing in more exclusive works from local artists in the future, so people will see different pieces when they pop back in.
Ama La Vita is open 10am–5.30pm Monday to Friday, Saturday 10am–5pm and Sunday 11am–5pm. Visit their Instagram at @amalavitanz