Words by
Kirsten Nagel

Design Notes: Wellington City Mission Fit Out

What started as a vision of selling sponsored bags to raise funds for The Wellington City Mission, quickly snowballed into a full fit out and refresh of the Central City Mission Store, bootstrapped from recycled and donated materials. We go behind the scenes to see how designers Nick Shackleton and Keegan Hannaway brought their vision to life for our Bags For All initiative, on a short deadline and virtually non-existent budget. Thanks to our community of generous donors, without whom the project would not have been possible.

Designers' 3D render of the shelving units in situ

Club Yu Mei Design Notes


Nick Shackleton and Keegan Hannaway



194m of Australian Hardwood donated by Wellington International Airport.



60L of off-white recycled paint donated by Resene as part of their PaintWise programme that repurposes recycled paint.



4m of 80% wool/20% nylon weave of Japanese origin, kindly donated by The Fabric Store.



Professional painter Wayne Wickens oversaw the Yu Mei team paint The City Mission store interior. Thanks Wayne! Special mention to friends of the designers, Isaac Sims, William Johnstone and Tom Shackleton who helped with construction and installation.

Greta Purses lined up on the angled display shelves

View out to the sponsor decal on the Taranaki St window

The Central City Mission Store is known fondly as ‘the Kirkcaldie’s of op shops’, reflecting both the calibre of goods available on its shelves, and the shelving units themselves - pilfered from high end Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains on its closure. For the Yu Mei Lounge pop up in the space, we commandeered a prime window position before letting Nick and Keegan dream up their most Grand Designs.

A small yet important factor was the budget, or lack thereof, but like any good design brief, constraints produce creative solutions. In keeping with the context of a secondhand store, the designers resolved to use only recycled and donated materials. This meant that the materials had to be sourced before any designs could be drawn up. Wellington International Airport kindly donated $6,000 of unused Australian Hardwood from their recent building works, which was otherwise destined for the dump. Nick and Keegan used the wood, pre-cut into narrow lengths, to inform the design of a series of angular, skeletal shelves.

“The shelves were designed on a grid system to maximise efficiency and ease of replication in the construction phase. Every axis used the same jig, so it all fit together seamlessly and the design was cohesive but not overly repetitive.” - Keegan Hannaway

Design mockup for unit with angled display

This design incorporates a chair, bringing the Yu Mei lounge concept to the project

Construction taking place in Nick's parents' garage - thanks Mom & Dad!

One element of the shelving units incorporated the use of hanging fabric, draped both to juxtapose the hard lines of the structure, and to echo the softness of the product that would sit on it - buttery soft deer nappa Yu Mei bags. The Fabric Store donated two lengths of a beautiful Japanese wool blend for this. Nick entrusted the task of finishing this portion with Adrian and Youhan, despite their mounting pile of bags to finish. If we’re honest, this project was a sprint for all involved - Nick and Keegan had only 19 days to project manage, construct and install the structures prior to opening day. Needless to say, there were many late nights.

Look how happy Youhan looks to be receiving this last minute sewing job from Nick

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Yu Mei team scrubbed up for the very important procedure of painting The City Mission store’s walls. Under the watchful eye of master painter Wayne Wickens, we achieved the unthinkable: getting Jessie Wong back on the tools. After a brief hiccup (namely painting of the metal window frame, a thing that was definitely not supposed to be painted) and a few pizzas, we completed the job and the space was ready for installation of the shelves.

Brigette and Adrian 'cutting in' - painters lingo we picked up from the pro, Wayne

Youhan touching up a spot that [REDACTED] missed

The shelves will remain as an enduring fit out in The Wellington City Mission store to showcase the quality range of preloved goods available there - take inspiration from the excellent campaign Seb Hunt and Dylan Richards styled for us entirely from secondhand finds on your next op-shopping trip. The final touches to complete the fit out were posters of our campaign, shot by Ken Cao, and florals from Woodstock Florist.

Thank you to our corporate and private sponsors and to everyone in Wellington who attended our event and shopped for a cause. This initiative would not have been possible without the support of our community.

The end result

Read more about how we raised over $50,000 for The Wellington City Mission here.

Take a behind the scenes look at our campaign shoot in Styling Notes.