Bigger, better and brighter; Playpark by Karen Walker in The Hotel Britomart has more of everything we love about the label. Britomart’s Melinda Williams chats to Karen Walker about the new retail space has in store.

Melinda Williams: Your previous store at Britomart was just a stone’s throw away in The Pavilions. Why did you decide to make the move?


Karen Walker: The size of the space was really exciting to us – the bigger store allows us to tell our full Playpark story and present the full mix of brands and products that we love, from Levi’s and Lacoste to Birkenstock and Veja alongside all our Karen Walker pieces. We couldn’t do this in the previous, smaller site.

Who designed the interior of the store, and are there any standout new elements that you're particularly pleased with? 

Our usual collaborator: Katie Lockhart. Katie’s worked with us since her first year out of university and her very first commission when she opened her studio was for us so she’s part of the family. The elements I’m most pleased with are how the low, blue benches and lamps allow us to show all our product so beautifully and play off the extraordinarily high stud the space has.

Anything new and exciting in-store that people should check out immediately?

We always have exciting collections and collabs. We opened the store with our gorgeous limited-edition summer pyjama collaboration with Papinelle and also our first ready-to-eat project: a trio of chocolate with Wellington Chocolate Factory. We also have an edit of new Veja sneakers that are exclusive to us in New Zealand.

Have you stayed at The Hotel Britomart yet?

Not yet, though I have had many visits throughout the build and also once complete. Every room’s fabulous and the suites in particular are gorgeous. I’ve had a long weekend in the hotel’s sister property in the Bay of Islands, The Landing, and that’s pretty darn special too. 

You always seem to be reading something interesting – what's on your nightstand at the moment? 

I’ve just read James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain. I don’t know why it took me this long to get to this one since I’ve long been fascinated by Baldwin. The book didn’t disappoint. I’ve just started Sisters by Daisy Johnson and am really enjoying it. 

Casting our mind back to the interview we did with you during the Covid lockdown in April, you said you felt this was a time for businesses to go back to the drawing board and reassess. What's one big change you've made within your business in light of what's happened in 2020? 

I’ve trimmed away some of the stuff that was taking lots of energy and time and not really delivering – the things that I’ve known for ages I needed to change but didn’t have the bravery to go ahead and action. That’s allowed me to put energy into other areas that really deserve that attention.