Not many people can say they enjoy physically and mentally challenging adventures in the outdoors, but for architectural visionary and outdoor enthusiast, Luke Leuschke, it's his definition of fun.
We spoke with Luke about his connection to the outdoors and how it has influenced his creative vision, his outrageously obsessive passion project, the Matterhorn Light, and what he deems as essential when exploring the elements.
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up and where are you living now?
I was born in Auckland. Spent a lot of my childhood down at Mt Ruapehu, Wanaka and on the beach. Currently living in Auckland.
You studied architecture in Melbourne, and in Japan. Tell us about both of those experiences and what it was like living abroad?
It was a privilege studying in Melbourne. The city has a thriving cultural scene with excellent schools and progressive architectural practices. I spent the first two months sleeping on a kitchen floor in Carlton with a diet consisting of whatever Bakers Delight did not sell that day.
Studying in Tokyo was a cultural shock, of the best kind. Everything in Japan just seems to be designed well.
You work in Architecture; do you find that your passion for the outdoors influences your eye for design?
It has certainly influenced the way I look at equipment — functionality, durability, aesthetics etc, and the consideration of how we build in nature. My friend and I are working on a project looking at structures in remote locations. The first issue focuses on the unique cluster of buildings in Iwikau Village, on top of an active volcano! These buildings are used as sports clubs and run by appointed committee members. There are some clever designs including the Knoll Ridge Cafe. I have thought a lot about how these buildings respond to their environment — some successful, some not so successful.
Being an outdoors enthusiast, what do you love about what New Zealand has to offer?
I love the geographic variety that is packed into this little country. There are not many places in the world you can ski and surf in the same day.
What has been the most challenging but most rewarding experience in the elements?
Sticking a pair of skins on your skis and heading into the backcountry with your mates. Physically challenging and mentally rewarding.
We saw that you experienced your first Heli Ski last year. Tell us about this experience…
Haha, yes. I finally caved. A big September storm system came through and we managed to get the last chopper. Spent the day lapping Black Peak — a very nice day.
What do you look for when purchasing outerwear for your outdoor missions?
Functionality, durability and aesthetics. I also like to support companies that are progressive with their R&D, servicing the sport, not their bank accounts.
What are the essentials you pack for a trip up the mountain?
Shovel, probe, transceiver, water, chocky, beats, extra clothing and a few cool hazy’s.
Tell us about the Matterhorn project…
The Matterhorn Light is an outrageously obsessive passion project that I’ve been working on for almost a decade now. I’ve been replicating the Matterhorn using a range of mediums, from slip cast porcelain to hand blown glass. The first product to market was a wood/plastic lamp I designed while at RMIT. A handmade glass lamp will be available later this year.
Having spent so much time outdoors during your lifetime, how have you seen the landscape and mountains change from climate change?
Glacial recession. I remember visiting the Tasman Glacier when I was a kid — the difference between now and then is quite remarkable.
Any key advice for people wanting to hike in the mountains?
Look after your feet and check the forecast!
From our new season collection, what style do you have on heavy rotation?
Lastly finish this sentence: I like getting back outdoors into the elements because….
It makes me feel happy.
Follow Luke on IG @lukeleuschke