Britomart People / Tana Mitchell, designer at Akin

Founder of the graphic design company Studio Akin, along with Emma Kaniuk, Tana Mitchell is a talented import to New Zealand who feels right at home at Britomart.

What would the theme song to your life be? Depends on the day. This morning I was full of energy and it was a beautiful day and I was looking forward to what we were designing today so it would have been something like LCD Soundsystem, but then maybe something like Losing My Edge, because there’s always that fear that you’re not quite cool enough with what we do. The notion that you’re working hard, but that you might have it all wrong, that kind of drives you forward.

Are you from Auckland? I’m originally from the United Kingdom, Canterbury and Kent.

How do you get to Britomart? I walk or cycle from Eden Terrace. 30-40 minutes to get my head ready for computing.

What do you enjoy about working here? The view. Being high up and having a big outlook is really important for me. I really love the mishmash of buildings I get to look at as well. From the 1800s, to the brutal 80s architecture. I like how it’s urban and organic, but there’s also a sense of history to the place. It feels lived in.

Where’s your favourite place to dine around here? I would say Seven, above Seafarers. The bento box there is fantastic, as it is at Ebisu. But you can’t beat sitting up there on the roof. Again, I’m all about the outlook.

What’s your favourite hidden Auckland City gem? Basque Park. It’s got a really lovely community feel. People who live around the park really engage in it.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you in Britomart? Having the opportunity to create the Britomart brand. I remember my boss at Design Works walking me over here, and it was a mess, it was derelict. Our first task was to set the perimeter. And then we had to create the brand – the typographic. They were all hand painted. So I feel a strong connection to the place. The second best thing was probably the first Laneways.

What’s your idea of a good time? Being somewhere I’ve never been and not knowing how to get around, because the promise of working it out is there and discovering things. I love going to new places and being unknowledgeable because it breaks you out of your habits.

What is your favourite thing to spend money on? Food, fashion and art.

What would the world be like if it was filled with male and female copies of you? Quite secretive and well organised and well designed… I hope!

Have you ever done anything heroic? No I don’t think so I think I Prefer to point out the opportunity for heroics, like “Maybe somebody should jump in and do something right about now?”

Interview and photograph by Florence Noble