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Mokum Sew Up 2006 Design In Business Award

Distinctive Kiwi Textiles Helps Mokum Sew Up 2006 Design In Business Award

Mokum Textiles, a family based Auckland business which designs and exports its own fabrics, is the major winner of this years annual Design in Business Award, organised by the Designers’ Institute of New Zealand in association with Better by Design.

The Design in Business Award (diba), which was presented at the Auckland City Art Gallery on Friday, August 18, was established to identify and recognise New Zealand companies that have achieved commercial success through investment in good design and who have a high “innovation quotient.”

The award not only celebrates the economic benefits that design led businesses create, but also recognises the ability of design-led companies to develop more internationally competitive products and services.

The Design in Business Award is for specific design projects or design strategies that have been carried out in the past year and that have generated measurable results for an organisation.

Mokum Textiles is a family owned textile design business that was established 20 years ago. It is internationally recognised for its innovative and contemporary textile collections which are strongly influenced by New Zealand and Australian indigenous cultures.

Until around four years ago, the company’s success was built on high-end imported fabrics. In 2000 Mokum Textiles began putting together collections with its own unique patterns and personalities and in 2003 the company took a selection of their Mokum collection fabrics to Chicago to evaluate market potential for their product.

A month or so later, Mokum Textiles signed their first distribution agreement and now in 2006, Mokum Textiles has 12 showrooms distributing the Mokum collection across the United States. US sales increased four-fold in 2005, and the company expects to double US sales this year.

Whereas once 50 per cent of the company’s sales were of imported brands, the company has grown into an internationally significant supplier of prestige fabrics, with 70 per cent of sales composed of its own original fabrics. Mokum Textiles employs 80 staff in New Zealand and Australia and four collections are produced each year under the Mokum and Meridian brands, which are designed in Mokum’s Sydney studio.

Mokum Textiles Managing Director, Edwin Rysenbry, who has spent his entire working life in the textile business, says that he came through the US experience to realise the company’s point of difference was its New Zealand perspective – cultural, lifestyle, geography.

Says Edwin: “We’ve always known textiles are created from a perspective. I can look at a fabric, any fabric, and tell you if it came from India, Italy, France or Germany, because it reflects the culture of where it is from. But what I hadn’t realised is that we do that too, and that we can compete against the best the world has to offer in the most competitive marketplace in the world.

“Our lifestyle is quite relaxed and contemporary. There is a different quality of life, different quality of light, and our colours are quite different.”

Derek Lockwood, worldwide director of design at Saatchi & Saatchi, and a judge of the awards, said that Mokum Textiles won the award because of the depth to which design was integrated into all aspects of the business, not just the aesthetics and brand positioning.

“Mokum Textiles stood proud as using design as a differentiator through all facets of its business; through product innovation, distribution, future proofing and sustainability. And it is paying dividends in the financial results of the business.”
Air New Zealand’s commitment to design was also recognised at the awards, with the company receiving a Highly Commended Award for the two year overhaul of its long haul airline product. The project, entitled ‘Inspiring Journeys’, was designed to appeal to travellers’ imaginations as well as their physical requirements.
The airline chose to differentiate itself by creating a design led experience to convey a specifically New Zealand experience. Key projects under this design led strategy included changes to the new long haul in-flight product (interior design, fabric design, crockery and cutlery design, and In-flight entertainment design); a new frontline uniform, a new lounge concept and a new brand identity.
Other finalists in this year’s awards were:
• Halliday & Baillie, of Auckland, who designs and exports high-end architectural hardware, such as elegant stair rails, invisible hinges and magnetic door stops;
• SimcroTech Ltd, a Hamilton based company which designs and manufactures animal health delivery systems;
• Living Nature, an organic skincare company based in Kerikeri, which has transformed itself from a cottage industry into a globally competitive skincare company; and
• HotChilly, a Wellington based manufacturer of heat pumps and air conditioners which transformed its formerly dull brand and image into a hot consumer brand and company.
Derek Lockwood said that that the standard and variety of this year’s entries was ‘phenomenal’.

“The standard this year was really high, which made the judging fairly arduous. The entries show the level to which design is being engaged within New Zealand businesses, and the different ways it is being applied to generate ideas, excitement and business. New Zealand companies are really starting to embrace design.”

Previous winners of the Design in Business Awards include 1999 winners, Formway Furniture, whose Life Chair is now sold in over 50 countries; 2000 winners, Zambesi Fashion; 2001 winners, Orca, who make the fastest wetsuits in the world, 2003 winners, Glidepath, a New Zealand based international baggage handling company. The 2005 winners were OBO, the Palmerston North company which is the world leading manufacturer of field hockey goalie equipment and Furnware, the Hastings based manufacturers of school chairs.

The judges of this year’s Design in Business Award were Derek Lockwood, worldwide director of design for Saatchi & Saatchi; Nevil Gibson, editor in chief of National Business Review, and Dean Poole, director of design company Alt Group.


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