"Drawing Inspiration From The Rewards & Challenges Of Life By The Sea" Our Conversation with Nicola Webster of COAST New Zealand06.05.20
From a sailing trip to a well-loved international brand, we chat with owner and director Nicola Webster about the evolution of COAST New Zealand.
While under lockdown - Nicola speaks to us from the safety of her home in Auckland.
Nicola Webster photographed by the Posonby News
How did the idea for Coast come about? How did you start, and what were the early days like?
The idea of COAST came about many, many years ago when Alex (my husband and business partner) was on a sailing race from Jamaica to The Cayman Islands. Everyone on board the yacht wanted to sit on a funny old corduroy beanbag wrapped in a waterproof sail bag, as it was so comfortable and easy to move about. We thought it would be a great product idea, if you could make a beautifully designed and weatherproof beanbag.
Fast forward 5 years, and we moved back to New Zealand start COAST, – a luxury lifestyle brand, with the Marine Bean being our first product.
Timing was on our side, with the America’s Cup being in town. We launched COAST’s first - and still its most popular product, The Marine Bean XL, the original outdoor beanbag™, made in New Zealand from marine grade Sunbrella® and guaranteed outdoors for 5 years.
The first beanbag by COAST - the Marine Bean XL , inspired by time on a sailboat.
We were lucky enough to have our Marine Beans specified for a number of the America’s Cup teams’ support and hospitality boats plus onboard visiting super yachts, which was the perfect start and has evolved into a long association with sailing and super yacht supply.
From the outset, we have drawn inspiration from the rewards and challenges of life by the sea: simple, relaxing and beautiful, but rugged and unforgiving. Inevitably therefore, our design process has concentrated as much on materials and construction as on aesthetics and style, to ensure that everything we make is not only enduring, but timeless.
We have drawn inspiration from the rewards and challenges of life by the sea:
simple, relaxing and beautiful, but rugged and unforgiving.
The current lockdown, in which we are all find ourselves at home, has brought back memories from the very early days of the company, when we were juggling small children, renovations and trying to run a growing business from home. We had many a challenging situations, including our first major corporate order of 100 Marine Beans that needed to be made, filled and delivered within 10 days. We set up a bean filling system in the basement, then moved the beanbags into our sitting room, which slowly filled up to the ceiling. In the ensuing chaos, we temporarily misplaced our 12 month old twins in the growing beanbag mountain – much to their delight – and then, while hurling the beanbags into the delivery trucks we covered one in paint, as our house was being painted at the same time (obviously).
Designing for the varying outdoor environment must be a challenge! How have you selected your materials to suit the New Zealand and Australian landscapes?
We started out as a specialist supplier to super-yachts - and this remains a significant part of our business. In consequence, we continue to borrow many of the materials and methods that were previously the reserve of luxury yacht-building: Contemporary ocean-going sailing yachts must be comfortable, even opulent, and yet withstand the harshest conditions at sea.
We aim, in our own small way, to emulate the exacting standards of modern boat builders in our choice of materials and use of good design. We always use the most enduring fabrics and parts that we can find and that are equal to the task at hand. In the case of our Marine Bean and Isla collections, we use Sunbrella marine-grade fabrics. Every component we use must be able to withstand life at sea and continue to look superb. Our principle is that if it can last at sea, it can last on your deck – even in the notoriously unforgiving conditions found in Australia and New Zealand.
Every component we use must be able to withstand life at sea and continue to look superb. Our principle is that if it can last at sea, it can last on your deck – even in the notoriously unforgiving conditions found in Australia and New Zealand.
Our design process has concentrated as much on materials and construction as on aesthetics and style, to ensure that everything we make is not only enduring, but timeless. We want customers to have years and years of enjoyment from their COAST products and we really believe in buying once and buying well. We have customers tell us all the time they have had their COAST beanbags since our inception in 2004. This gives us great satisfaction, that we are making beautiful functional products that aren’t doomed to become landfill.
The COAST Posonby Road showroom in Auckland, featuring their range of outdoor accessories.
How has Coast changed since the brand began?
Our guiding principles have remained the same, however we have widened our product range over the last 16 years to include soft luggage made from Sunbrella fabric, throw cushions, New Zealand-made woollen textiles and small leather accessories. All are made from the best quality fabrics and handcrafted in New Zealand.
What are some of the best projects that you have been able to be a part of?
We have been so fortunate to work with some amazing projects and clients, from resorts in the snow in Switzerland, seaside villas in the Maldives and stunning family homes all over the world. One project which was immensely fun and rewarding, was designing and fitting out the Louis Vuitton Sailor and Guest Loungers at the America’s Cup in Auckland.
Constance Hotel in the Maldives, and The Vines Village Cafe & Deli, Wine Cellar & Boutique Stores in New Zealand. Image by Jeff Fulton.
It would have to be the Marine Bean XL – it was the first product we designed and is still our best-selling. So many customers get such enjoyment from this product and we love receiving and seeing pictures of clients and their families relaxing in their COAST beanbags.
Marine Bean XL Beanbag and Ottoman in Blend Clay - part of the new Sunbrella Blend range by COAST.
Anything exciting on the horizon that you can share with us?
We are currently working on launching a large selection of bespoke Sunbrella colour options, made to order, for our entire Marine Bean and Isla collections. As we manufacturer locally, we have the ability to personalise colour options, quickly (within 3 weeks) and can do one offs.
We are also working on a personalisation option for our Classic Canvas travel bags – you will be able to choose your own colour and add names/initials to your bags.