Inside story: Aaron Pollock and Mickey Smith

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Designer Aaron Pollock and artist Mickey Smith.

Designer Aaron Pollock and artist Mickey Smith. Image: David Straight

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Aaron Pollock and Mickey Smith's home is light, airy and modern.

Aaron Pollock and Mickey Smith’s home is light, airy and modern. Image: David Straight

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The home was designed by Aaron's brother Cameron Pollock.

The home was designed by Aaron’s brother Cameron Pollock. Image: David Straight

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Woodgrain bike: Aaron: I started woodgraining bikes with my dad. It's the first bike he painted. I could never sell it, even though I can barely ride it.

Woodgrain bike: Aaron: I started woodgraining bikes with my dad. It’s the first bike he painted. I could never sell it, even though I can barely ride it. Image: David Straight

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Matthew Porter <em>Wax Poster: East Side, 2014</em>: Aaron: Cameron and I were Hot Wheels fans and my son Max has carried on that tradition.

Matthew Porter Wax Poster: East Side, 2014: Aaron: Cameron and I were Hot Wheels fans and my son Max has carried on that tradition. Image: David Straight

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Rings: Mickey: I've collected artist-designed jewelry since I was 16. I rotate wedding rings by Karl Fritsch, Heinz Brummell and Karen Gilbert.

Rings: Mickey: I’ve collected artist-designed jewelry since I was 16. I rotate wedding rings by Karl Fritsch, Heinz Brummell and Karen Gilbert. Image: David Straight

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Buttercup Rocker by Bku dot: Aaron: We saw this in a sidewalk sale in Soho. Mickey wanted it for our son Max.

Buttercup Rocker by Bku dot: Aaron: We saw this in a sidewalk sale in Soho. Mickey wanted it for our son Max. Image: David Straight

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Mickey Smith <em>Volume Series- American Girl</em>: Aaron: Mickey finds it challenging to live with her own work, but I've talked her into putting a couple of pieces in the house.

Mickey Smith Volume Series- American Girl: Aaron: Mickey finds it challenging to live with her own work, but I’ve talked her into putting a couple of pieces in the house. Image: David Straight

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Custom light fittings by Rob's Woodgrain: AP & MS: We struggled to find the right light fittings for the kitchen island, so we built our own.

Custom light fittings by Rob’s Woodgrain: AP & MS: We struggled to find the right light fittings for the kitchen island, so we built our own. Image: David Straight

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Phillippe Starck for Target magazine rack: Aaron: This magazine rack was in the clearance rack for $5. We abuse it daily and it still looks like new.

Phillippe Starck for Target magazine rack: Aaron: This magazine rack was in the clearance rack for $5. We abuse it daily and it still looks like new. Image: David Straight

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Earnest Workshop Peel Coat Stand: Aaron & Mickey: Such a simple and elegant design, yet really functional.

Earnest Workshop Peel Coat Stand: Aaron & Mickey: Such a simple and elegant design, yet really functional. Image: David Straight

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Paul Shambroom <em>Security Series - Police SWAT, camouflage</em>: AP & MS: We know Paul, and love his work. An examination of fear, safety and liberty in post-9/11 America.

Paul Shambroom Security Series - Police SWAT, camouflage: AP & MS: We know Paul, and love his work. An examination of fear, safety and liberty in post-9/11 America. Image: David Straight

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Early in their relationship, Aaron Pollock and Mickey Smith were forced to sell their mattresses for a whopping $200 in order to pay their rent in New York City.

Custom light fittings by Rob’s Woodgrain: AP & MS: We struggled to find the right light fittings for the kitchen island, so we built our own.  Image:  David Straight

It was months after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the couple was finding it difficult to secure work in the highly volatile environment.

“Mickey then had this crazy idea to start a design company,” says Pollock, “so we got the Business Plans for Dummies book, got a loan, found a space, and bought computers.” The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.  

According to award-winning, Minnesota-born, artist Smith, “the first two years in Manhattan were really exciting. Being in the centre of the arts community, exhibiting regularly, having my work showing up in covers of magazines and constantly being in different [art] residencies.”

Pollock remembers seeing his work for a large clothing retailer being splashed across the nine digital billboards that wrap around Times Square.

The New Zealand lifestyle brought them back here in 2012. “It is difficult to get out of New York City and into nature. We had an amazing apartment in Greenwich Village and knew that it was as good as it was going to get.”

The couple now divides their time between the United States (where Pollock art-directs music videos and commercials for the likes of Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Sofia Vergara) and Auckland’s Devonport. While here, Smith has been documenting the 18 libraries donated to the country by 19th-century steel billionaire and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie; Pollock does independent work for Villa Maria and Air New Zealand, among others.

Paul Shambroom Security Series - Police SWAT, camouflage: AP & MS: We know Paul, and love his work. An examination of fear, safety and liberty in post-9/11 America. Image:  David Straight

One of their largest undertakings involved purchasing an intimidatingly steep, triangular site and engaging Aaron’s brother Cameron Pollock (an architect with local firm Jasmax) to build their new home. “The technical aspects of the site proved incredibly challenging,” says the architect. “The site is small and falls steeply towards the southeast, it has tough heritage character zone criteria and planning constraints, and sits within a built up historic neighbourhood. Additionally, we had to accommodate several large trees, along with tight vehicle access and parking issues.”

The result is a tall structure with a complex geometry, immaculate views, and various outdoor spaces that spill natural light indoors.

“We can’t believe we get to live here!” says Smith. “It is everything we wanted it to be: we have only been in the house for a year but it gets better every day.”


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