Wander around Sanford’s newly refurbished Auckland Fish Market and you’ll see a highend fishmonger, a range of seafood-themed eateries, a sun-filled courtyard and a welcoming bar. Paul Izzard, however, sees a story. A story about seafood, how it is caught, presented, sold, cooked, eaten and enjoyed. As Design Director of Izzard Design it was his job to take the almost 100-year-old building and create a destination to which people will come to buy fish and to eat and drink, yes, but also to curate an experience that educates the public about sustainable fishing and demonstrates the diversity of the catch.

In order to create this lively and engaging marketplace, that story had to be broken down into a process, to translate the vision into being. “If you don’t have a process, you just get lost in endless creativity,” Paul says. So, at the start of a project he’ll hold workshops to become immersed in the business and really understand how the company works; not just to discuss the product, or the ambience and atmosphere that the client wishes to create, but to analyse the actual business. Paul says he tasks his young designers to take note of how people need to work in the space; how do the wait staff deliver food from the chef? how does the bartender need to move to and fro behind the bar? “There are hundreds of moving parts to make a restaurant work successfully,” he recognises. With more than 300 hospitality projects in his portfolio, he knows how to design a space in which all those moving parts can come together harmoniously.

Part of Paul’s job at the Auckland Fish Market was to rid the site of the smelly, slimy stigma of a wet-floored fish market. He explains that layering customers’ experiences was key to achieving this. Now, at the core of the market is the Sanford & Sons retail shop, reminiscent of a traditional fishmonger – a smart, slick pavilion where a huge variety of whole fish and fillets are arrayed on ice, smartly apronned staff are on hand to offer advice and bubbling tanks hold crayfish, pāua and, on a recent visit, some startling-looking geoducks that go right to the heart of that diversity message.

But don’t forget that this is a working fish market, so there’s the next layer; to the side of the retail space and visible through a large window is the filleting station where fish are gutted, scaled and filleted, a glimpse of the gumboot and rubber aprons side of the business. And not too far from the market are the boats that bring in the catch.

It’s a busy time with Izzard Design recently completing work on Goodside at Auckland’s Smales Farm and a refurbishment of Craggy Range Restaurant in Hawke’s Bay. He’s also hard at work on Auckland’s 277 and Commercial Bay precincts both due to open in 2019. But Paul does get time to revisit some past projects such as Baduzzi which he designed five years ago. “It’s great to see a restaurant improving with age. It’s wearing in, not wearing out.” izzard.co.nz

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