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Design students take top honours

Industrial design students in Victoria University's School of Design have taken top honours in two major competitions, winning all the prizes on offer.

The results of the Metaform design competition, sponsored by Carter Holt Harvey, were announced in Auckland last week and all six prizes went to Victoria's third year (2002) industrial design students.

The top prize was taken by James Whitta, who won an all expenses paid trip to the Milan Furniture Fair in September. The work will be exhibited at the Auckland War Memorial Museum until September before travelling to Lower Hutt's Dowse Art Museum. Special prizes went to Nadia Michaelson and Simon Dearsley while Stu Barr, Nick Len and Nathan Goldsworthy were highly commended.

Professor of Industrial Design at Victoria, Simon Fraser, says Victoria was well represented with 15 finalists in the exhibition. A total of 80 students entered.

Professor Fraser says the students were required to investigate applications for ‘Green Seal Hardwood’, a cellulose impregnated pine developed by the Forestry Research Institute in Rotorua. This fascinating technology transforms pine into a hardwood. The real design challenge was to move beyond the packing crate image of pine. In Mr Whitta's case, he designed what could be loosely described as a bench seat.

Called “Logg” it is reminiscent of just that, a log to rest on. It makes a subtle reference to the origins of wood. But unlike a log it is made out of wooden slats that are turned in such a way that they flex when sat on to create a comfortable seat and thereby eloquently demonstrate the flexibility of the wood.

Professor Fraser says this success came on the back of a competition sponsored by the New Zealand Plastic Manufacturers Association, PlasticsNZ for industrial design students in Wellington. Again, Victoria's current third year students took all eight prizes. The winners were: Hamish Dooney 1; Avin Karin 2; Sarah Adams 3; Scott Fitzsimons 4; Eve Gilliland, Keng Chi, Andrew Maude and Callum Ross were highly commended.

Professor Fraser says the results showed the School of Design's strategy and new approach to design education was beginning to reap benefits. "It's also confirmation that after only three years the School is already developing a special character and philosophy in terms of design education that sets it apart from others."

The results also shows Victoria's students are willing to experiment with new technologies and have a clear understanding of how to investigate the full potential of different materials in the design process, he says.

Mark Pennington, of award-winning Lower Hutt furniture manufacturer, Formway, and a judge in both competitions, says he was impressed by work done by the Victoria students. "The first impression was the exciting diversity in the translation of common, humble building materials into forms of expression that were refreshingly new. They did very well in exploiting the material's capabilities and looking at their inherent characteristics. Some of the winning designs were beautiful concepts, beautifully translated."

For more information, contact Professor Simon Fraser on 04 463 6260

Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Public Affairs
For further information please contact or phone 04 463 5873 or 029 463 5873

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