Liam Bowden loves beautiful things, from good design to a good time. The friendly founder of Deadly Ponies (he launched the leather accessories and handbags brand way back in 2005) has had a busy few years, but an especially big few months.
The brand opened a new boutique in Melbourne (its fifth) in August, and more recently revealed it had been certified as carbon zero through local business Toitū Envirocare. The latter is part of Deadly Ponies’ push towards transparency with a range of initiatives - reflecting a wider move within global fashion and luxury, as well as its own roots as a brand that has utilised and embraced leather/textile waste since it began.
Liam lives in Herne Bay with husband Steve Boyd (also the chief executive of Deadly Ponies), and their cat, Oscar; the family moved into the neighbourhood about six months ago having purchased a Spanish mission-style house. Now, they’re in the process of planning their “dream alterations”. Liam, who especially loves the area’s many beautiful walks and parks close by and the fact that they’re one minute away from the ocean, shares some of his other favourite local spots.
Where do you get your morning coffee - and what’s your order?
Ozone in Grey Lynn; a single shot Piccolo. I love this experience as it’s a relatively big cafe that includes a large outside area, giving you that busy energy of people with the ability to still be at a distance. To get there each morning we walk through the Cox’s Bay reserve, it feels like a little journey that allows us to unwind before starting our working day.
The restaurant you’ve been going to for years?
The Engine Room. I seem to go there for every big life event; like when we purchased our first home and my birthday celebrations. It’s always a very welcoming and fun atmosphere, yet intimate at the same time. I love that the menu is relatively consistent, I hate going to a restaurant just to find they’ve taken my favourite dish off the menu! They have an amazing twice-baked goat's cheese soufflé, and a pork schnitzel with potato rosti and caper butter that is also delicious. It's naughty, mouth-watering food, hence why I only go on special occasions.
Favourite gallery or museum?
Michael Lett Gallery. Often we’ll work to source a number of artists for our store from there, and I also have a few pieces at home.
Internationally, the most amazing place I have ever visited was the Art Island in Japan called Naoshima. It felt like it was something taken from James Bond. I travelled all over the island and saw huge workings by iconic artists like James Turell. All the pieces interacted with the natural elements and coastline, it was completely deserted so had this ghost-like feel to it.
Where do you go when you’re after local art or design?
I love to go to Babelogue on Karangahape Road. They always have an interesting range of furniture and lighting pieces. It’s a great place to buy a gift for someone who is always really hard to buy for.
Favourite clothing store that never lets you down?
A consistent go-to for me is Grailed, an online store for second hand men's clothing. It’s a platform where you can bid and search for certain items that may be otherwise sold out, or only offered as a limited edition. I love that it’s a sustainable way to shop and that it gives well-made, quality pieces the ability to be re-loved. I end up spending a lot of time online creating my dream wishlist.
If someone was visiting your neighbourhood/city for the first time, what’s the one place you would recommend they visit?
Bethells Beach on a Friday evening - over summer, there is an amazing pizza truck there and they often have live music. It’s a great example of our unique black sand beaches and only one minute drive away are these massive sand dunes in the forest. It’s a place that really showcases a snapshot of some beautiful New Zealand landscapes, as well as providing that fun-food energy.