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Design Star, Celia Visser

Interior designer Celia Visser’s skills are exceptional, her specialty in kitchen and bathroom design recognised the world over. 


One glance at Celia Visser’s portfolio and you understand you’re witnessing greatness. No surprises then that she took home the 2018 KBB award in the SBID International Design Excellence Awards.


Remarkable Design

Her winning design is a stunning contemporary kitchen and adjacent bar. The impact of its geometric structure, sharp, clean lines and all-white colour palette is offset by exposed concrete walls and beautiful timber flooring. “The overall impression of this remarkable kitchen is an eye-catching modern piece of art,” noted SBID.



She’s A Winner

“To win was pretty incredible,” says Celia. “I’ve won lots of New Zealand awards, but this is recognised as the biggest interior design award globally. There are 14 categories and you either win or you don’t, there are no second or third places.”


The SBID International Design Excellence Awards

Celia flew to London for the three-day event, which was held at the Dorchester Hotel where she stood side by side with the industry’s best. “Julian Clary was the MC, and the judges were very high powered and included the heads of Google, Bentley Design, and the BBC as well as the director of the Natural History Museum of London, and folk from Taylist Media, Charles Louboutin, Walpole, and Boeing.” 


As a winner, Celia was whisked into the media spotlight to be  photographed and interviewed for leading magazines. “It was like the Oscars, the paparazzi asking me to look here and look there, it was a very exciting day really.”



After 27 years in the industry it was definitely a career highlight. “I’m 61, and to be recognised internationally by my peers at this stage is pretty pleasing.” 


Design DNA

Her journey up to this point has had its highs and lows. She didn’t begin her career until she was in her 30s. A busy mother of four sons (now in their 30s and parents themselves), it wasn’t until they grew a little older that she took her passion for art and design and trained with the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association in the United States. “I’m a great believer in good training but I also think design is just a part of who I am.” 




In the early days she worked out of New Plymouth where the family were based. When her husband Frank brought an Auckland-based business they relocated. “It was a challenge at the time because I basically had to start again, but in retrospect I’m very glad we moved,” says Celia. 


Major Crises

It was a decade ago that Celia’s health went downhill and she required a kidney transplant. Her close family rallied and Celia’s third son Brayden donated his kidney. Around the same time the second large-scale adversity occurred when the Global Financial Crisis hit.


“Those were tough times both business wise and personally,” says Celia. “I had four or five staff and we had to decide whether to carry on. A lot of our clients are business people so they were greatly affected by the GFC. We had a lot of major jobs fall over.”



Coming Out On Top

She managed to make it through both health and business wise to become one of our most respected interior designers. Her wealth of experience and broad knowledge of the technical aspects of her craft along with materials and products is the upshot of decades of crafting beautiful spaces. 


“I’ve got 10 grandchildren now and I’ve lived through all phases of life so I understand designing for couples, for families with young children, for grandchildren. We’ve re-done a lot of houses for some of our clients as they go through the different stages.”


Celia Visser Designs 

Celia describes her business as a boutique company, and while their specialty is bespoke kitchens and bathrooms they’re adept at all interiors. “We do it all, from the initial plans to project coordinating the trades to ensure everything is done properly, to bringing it all together aesthetically. There is a lot of spatial planning and technical aspects involved so we work with space, light, functionality and harmonious form. We’re interior architects.” 


Celia’s passionate about what she does. “To create something completely individual for each client is very satisfying,” she says. “Our style is unique because it’s whatever our client’s style is. I love achieving something very special for someone and watching their face light up when they see the end result. It’s so exciting.”


The team works nationwide and overseas. “We go where we’re asked to go,” says Celia. “We may be working on a contemporary home for one project and then a very old villa the next. 


“I guess my signature is attention to detail. I’m fussy myself and I’m fussy for my clients. I strive for excellence in everything I do.” 



54 College Hill, Ponsonby
09 917 1794 | visserdesign.com