Meet our Friday Muse Annaliese Murrell, co-owner and retail operations manager at BoConcept

27 March 2024
By Fashion Quarterly

From dentistry to spatial design, Annaliese Murrell is just one of the faces behind iconic Danish furnish company, BoConcept.

With a tenure at BoConcept spanning over a decade, you could say that Annaliese Murrell is part of the furniture. Balancing motherhood with co-running an iconic furniture company is no easy feat, but Murrell somehow makes it look effortless. The dental assistant turned spatial designer has had an interesting journey to the top, and one which led her to meet her now husband Jeff Davoren. The pair work side-by-side at BoConcept’s flagship Mt Eden store in Auckland, and together, they’ve been instrumental in scaling the company within Aotearoa. 

Below, we caught up with Murrell to find out more about her journey into spatial design, her advice on creating an idyllic home environment, and what inspires her creatively.

In conversation with Annaliese Murrell:

Please tell us a bit about you, your background, and your career to date.

I’m originally from Invercargill and actually began my working life in dental care, which moved me over to Perth, Australia, for a time. It was while I was there that I got inspired to work on a portfolio and go back to University. That’s when I kicked off my design career, studying spatial design at Massey, focusing on interiors and furniture making. My degree gave me a solid foundation of theoretical and practical knowledge and inspired me to think deeper about how spaces affect us. That’s what has inspired me to want to help others with their homes. I believe it is a core contributor to our mental wellbeing.

How did you first get into spatial design?

I originally went to university to study industrial design as I was so interested in furniture making, but during my first few years I made the transition to spatial design as I became more concerned for human environments and the way design influences our wellbeing. Spatial design felt far more fulfilling for me.

You’ve been working at BoConcept for more than a decade. How has your role within the company evolved over time?

It was during study that I was lucky to join BoConcept Wellington as a Design Consultant. I quickly began to live a life much more hygge and fell in love with the way Danish design was so thoughtful, yet minimalist and peaceful. After study I couldn’t bring myself to move away from the brand, so instead I stayed and quickly took on the responsibility of the store; I managed the Wellington showroom before making a move south to expand the business into Christchurch. I was emotionally invested in the brand’s ethos.

I’ve now been based in our flagship store in Auckland for seven years, initially to manage the store but my role has evolved to more operations-based tasks, where I can utilise my years of experience to develop better processes and procedures for the current team of design consultants, always trying to be ahead of the game with our customer service. I’ve also been lucky enough to acquire shares in the New Zealand franchise, which has been a dream of mine for quite some time.

Your partner Jeff is also a co-director at BoConcept. What’s the best part about working together?

Jeff and I met at work when we were both in Wellington and have followed a similar journey with the BoConcept New Zealand family. We became really great friends almost immediately, even though it took the better part of ten years to get together. We share the same passions for design and for the team that we work alongside, we complement each other. I guess the thing I love the most about working together is that we always have an insight into each other’s day, which makes it feel easy and natural to talk things through, whether it be about work or anything else. There are no secrets, we get to live life together, it just works. Even our two daughters spend a lot of time at work with us, it’s a very family friendly environment.

What does an average day look like for you?

My days start with total carnage, getting the four of us out the door for work and daycare is sometimes a feat of its own. From the minute we wake up the pace is on. Once I’m at work I spend most of my time collaborating with teammates on whatever developmental project we have going on at the time. Then I pick up the girls from daycare and spend the evening cooking, reading, playing and shushing to sleep. Maybe not so inspiring, but this is my life at the moment and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

You’ve recently renovated your Mt Eden showroom. What did you enjoy about this process and what are some of the improvements your customers will notice/enjoy?

Our Mount Eden showroom has reinvented the way we sell furniture. There is no longer a counter, but instead, multiple areas to consult with our clients and discuss their individual needs with the store’s interior designers. The showroom design takes cues from the brand’s collection, using wood, stone, and plants for a warm, biophilic-enhanced setting.

Annaliese's top tips for designing a space

For someone who doesn’t practice design but is wanting to revamp a space in their home; it is possible to create a beautifully curated space without a degree! First, think about how you want the space to make you feel and consider the environment to influence some of your choices.

Keep your colour palette simple, choosing only a few complimentary finishes. If you prefer a colour party, this can be very hard to achieve without some expert training. You’ll want to ensure hard surfaces are juxtaposed with soft furnishings, like if you’re using stone table tops, choose some soft fabric on your chairs or cushions to ensure you create a warm and cosy experience. Have a mixture of textures, and don’t use more than two timber finishes if you can help it.

Can you comment on how people’s desires and needs have evolved in recent years and how this is reflected in interior trends?

Kiwis are becoming more design and sustainability-focused, with an increasing number of high-end brands entering the market to increase awareness. I’ve discovered this trend has lead to more interest in clients using BoConcept’s complimentary in-home interior design service, as it ensures that their choices coordinate with their existing pieces and aligns with their long-term vision for their home. Good quality furniture and expert decision-making certainly aids the impact on our environment.

Who or what inspires you creatively?

My inspiration often comes from travelling overseas, particularly from spending time in Denmark where we’ve had the opportunity to live in established Danish apartments. Immersing ourselves in the Danish lifestyle, especially with small children, has given me insight into the simplicity of life outside of New Zealand. Danish interiors are meticulously designed, reflecting the culture’s emphasis on indoor living. Their homes resemble magazine spreads and serve as a true inspiration.

Do you have any exciting projects in the works?

We recently showcased at the inaugural Auckland Design Week. This was a big project for us, as we turned our showroom into a forest, in collaboration with florist Michelle Coomey.

We had furniture adorned with moss and flowers, and a nature inspired soundscape playing throughout the showroom. It transformed the space and reflected our brand ethos of nature and simplicity. It was amazing to see so many design enthusiasts come through the showroom and experience our vision.

Quickfire questions:

My guilty pleasure… Dark chocolate. It’s a daily staple for me.

My favourite place to dine… Onslow.

Current season homeware purchase… I’ve just purchased a pile of euro cushions for a bench seat in the nursery from Citta, the Picton range.

My style icon is… Audrey Hepburn.

My favourite place to travel to… British Columbia, for the snowy mountains.

This season I’m splurging on… A trench coat from Knuefermann.

A book that changed my life is… Lean in: Woman, Word and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

If I could have dinner with any three people on earth, dead or alive, I would choose… My partner and two girls, of course.

Imagery: supplied.


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