Ten Minutes with Helen M. Strevens

After a whirlwind of a year exhibiting at the Maison + Objet Fair in Paris and the Ambiente Fair in Frankfurt, New Zealand-based designer Helen M. Strevens is topping it off with an exhibition at one of her personal favourite museums, the renowned Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. Helen has designed a fine bone china breakfast dining set for the exhibition, inspired by the Breakfast Room and other distinctive themes from around the museum. We had the chance to talk to Helen and discuss her inspiration, career highlights, and her thoughts on artistry and creativity.


What do people think you do?

Most people I know would say I am a designer.


What do you actually do?

I design film sets, make art through drawing and run a design business called HMS Studio.

So I would say I am an artist, a designer and a business woman.


What is your philosophy for life?

I have a few little mantras I live by: ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ ‘The people my in my life will always be more important than anything else,’ and ’It could always be worse so I might as well be thankful for what I have got.’




If you could be a colour which one would you be?



What is the best part of your job?

It allows me to express myself creatively.


What is the worst part of your job?

I have to put myself out there. When you take risks you can get knocked back quite a bit so you have to have faith in yourself.


What has been your career highlight so far?

In February I exhibited at Maison and Objet in Paris which was an incredible experience. When I was there, I was asked by representatives of Sir John Soane’s Musuem in London to design a breakfast set to help them celebrate the opening of newly restored rooms. This museum is very eccentric and a favorites of many architects, including me. I am thrilled to be exhibiting the new collection soon in the New Zealand Room in the New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.


Where do you draw inspiration from?

Everywhere, nature, books, dreams… everywhere.


If you could invite three people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would you invite?

That is a really hard question! David Bowie, Frida Kahlo and someone funny.. Stephen Fry?




What is a lesson you’ve learnt the hard way?

You can’t really plan your own life, let alone other people’s.


What are your goals for the rest of the year?

I have a few events in London, including the Soane opening, and my exhibition in Venice coming up. I hope these go well and with luck they will lead to some new projects. I have a couple of film projects that may happen before the New Year – film is very unpredictable. And finally I am building a small studio. I aim to have to have this ready by Christmas.


What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

If you make art you are an artist. Forget about whether you are talented or not. Just practice and get good at what you do.