Wānaka art designed for a sustainable future

Aran and Maeve Pudney with their youngest child, Eoin.

The ski season may be coming to a close, but a topographic view of local fields are now available year round. The Furnace, a Wellington-based design company, now offers the Wānaka region and Treble Cone collection, including maps of Roys Peak, Lake Wānaka and Lake Hāwea.

The husband and wife team behind the Furnace, Aran and Maeve Pudney, set up their business in 2016 to create hand-made, three-dimensional, bamboo-layered New Zealand art in response to their desire to lead a more balanced lifestyle. Their commitment to sustainable practices caught the eye of The Remarkables Ski Area and Coronet Peak Ski Field staff members, which both showcased their artwork in their lodges this ski season.

"I guess the part that we get a kick out of the most is the emotional reaction people have to [the art]," said Aran Pudney. "We have heard that several people have cried when they have been given their maps; I guess it’s that really potent reminder of someone's place and origins, their turangawaewae. It’s really rewarding to think of something that we have made with our own hands hanging in someone's house forever and hopefully getting passed on."

Besides creating customisable maps of NZ and international coastlines, waterways and mountains, The Furnace also works on commissions from the area and offers custom designs. The owners recently created sustainable conference name tags, which were featured at last August's Sustainable Business Network conference and garnered appreciation from Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage for their alternative use of plastic.

Maeve Pudney told the Wānaka Sun their latest Wānaka collection was due to their love of Queenstown Lakes. "I have very fond memories of the first time my parents came to visit. My parents just loved Wānaka," she said. "One highlight in particular was a walk we did into Mount Aspiring National Park. My parents still mention it occasionally. It was a real highlight and somewhere I’d like to explore more in the future and bring my children to visit too."

The Pudneys said they are committed to the creation of ethical art with minimal and re-purposed waste to avoid negative impact on the environment. Aran Pudney gleaned much of his respect for resources from his previous experience of designing high-volume consumer products made from plastic.

"We are really keen on the environmental impact of our maps, and are constantly reassessing every element of what we do, and how we can improve things," said Aran Pudney. "We are making a few changes to our product packaging and are moving away from our biodegradable bags to fully paper-based packaging. We are also working on moving all our labels to ones made from recycled sugar cane waste (bagasse), which we will hopefully have all sorted by Christmas."

For more information, visit www.thefurnace.co.nz.

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