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THE BEST IN DESIGN FOR 2022: National Best Design Award Winners Revealed

Whether they were decorated in Black, Purple or Gold, the best in New Zealand design were celebrated at the most prestigious event on the Australasian design calendar last night – the Best Design Awards.

Organised by the Toi Manahau / Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ), the Best Design Awards recognise the strongest work produced across nine core categories: Digital, Product, Toitanga, Graphic, Moving Image, Spatial, Value of Design, Public Good, and User Experience.

This year saw 1,381 initial entries, and the winners were honoured at a high-profile awards ceremony at Auckland’s Aotea Centre, emceed by Jenifer Ward-Lealand and attended by more than 1,000 outstanding designers.

While most attendees walked away from the evening as Finalists, a handful of exceptional talent were spotlighted as the supreme winners – presented with either a Purple or Gold pin for their superb achievements in their field, or the illustrious Black pin to honour an enduring commitment to the design world.

This year’s entries included a diverse range of projects, from a striking visual map of forgotten Māori history in Central Hawke’s Bay, a contribution to this year’s first ever Matariki celebrations, a gorgeous chair that treads lightly on the planet, and an urgent campaign that encouraged people to support local small businesses in the depths of lockdown.

The convenors who made up 2022’s star-studded judging panel said the calibre of this year’s entries instilled confidence in them for the future of design in Aotearoa.

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Convenor for the Product category and Design Director at Vivid Origin, Jesse Keith says,

“The entries for 2022 were typically diverse like our New Zealand design scene - we had everything from highly technical products, beautifully crafted designed objects and emotive and whimsical consumer solutions. We really enjoyed seeing new brands, designers and teams enter for the first time as it shows the ever-growing nature of the design scene.”

Co-navigator for the Toitanga category and Co-President of DINZ, Anzac Tasker says,

“It’s always a real privilege to be exposed to some of the best indigenous creativity happening in the world, and it makes it even more special to be able to contribute to the advancement of it here in Aotearoa.”

“With the heightened engagement from our industry towards Te Ao Māori, we’re seeing a lot more considered kaupapa māori creativity simmer to the surface. It was important for us to approach the entries with a lens of guardianship, to maintain the integrity of Te Ao Māori,” adds Tasker.

Convenor for the Spatial category and Associate Principal at Warren and Mahoney, Valentina Machina, says,

“The judging panel this year have witnessed ground-breaking design expertise combined with scintillating intellect across design studios that are diverse in their outlook, experience, and their understanding of the crucial elements across the built environment. And observing the next generation of designers approaching design with thoughtfulness, unabashed joy, and a firm eye on sustainability is giving us a reason to be excited for what is yet to come.”

“The DINZ community is stronger than ever, and we hope that even more studios will be entering next year. 2022’s Best Awards has highlighted a great opportunity for winning projects and design teams to celebrate, learn, exchange ideas and be inspired,” Machina concludes.


Black Pin winners: Jamie McLellan / Jef Wong / Emirates Team New Zealand

John Britten Black Pin: Jamie McLellan

Jamie’s design expertise has taken him all over the globe, most notably seeing him as the Head of Design for Allbirds in San Francisco. He has been responsible for building the brand’s design ethos and product language, propelling the sustainable shoe brand on a phenomenal path to international success.

Originally from Wellington, Jamie nurtured his skills under the mentorship of globally renowned designers (Hisham Kulhanek, Robert Stroj, Tom Dixon) and now holds a portfolio full of award-winning quality products. The Black pin recognises his unavoidable contribution to the design community, with work that is a testament to his unwavering focus.

DINZ Black Pin: Jef Wong

For over two decades, Jef has excelled in his role as Executive Creative Director at Designworks where he is responsible for driving and maintaining the overall creative vision and quality standards of the studio. Jef has been involved in branding programmes for nearly every sector – with clients such as Air New Zealand, Telecom, Coca-Cola, NZME, Kiwirail, and The New Zealand Dance Company. The DINZ Black pin acknowledges his passion for culture, creativity and collaboration bleeds through all of his work.

Value of Design Black Pin: Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand may appear more synonymous with sporting success than design excellence at first glance. But that’s why DINZ is spotlighting their enduring commitment to the design industry with a rich history of innovation that has launched the team onto a global stage.

From designing the first America’s Cup boats to foil, supercats, cyclors and most recently spearheading the foiling monohull’s rise here at home - design innovation and impact has always been at the heart of everything Emirates Team New Zealand does. It’s safe to say that this consistent design leadership has transformed the entire landscape.

Digital: Social Mobility in the Digital Age (Purple) / Beyond Binary Code (Gold)

Social Mobility in the Digital Age by Gladeye

Design Director: N/A

Client: L'Atelier BNP Paribas

Told in three acts, ‘Social Mobility’ explores historical drivers of wealth inequality, the potential impact of future technologies on economic society, and comparative metrics for understanding present day threats on a global scale. The design needed to bring this scholarly text to life, and add emotional weight to the digital experience.

Beyond Binary Code by Colenso BBDO

Design Directors: Simon Vicars, Maria Devereux, Dan Wright, Beth O'Brien, Thomas Darlow

Client: Caitlyn Hayes

Most of the internet runs on only two data points. Male and female: a system unchanged since the beginning of the internet, which leaves non-binary and transgender people invisible online. Spark wanted to change that. Beyond Binary is a piece of code that can be added to any website that updates data fields and forms to be gender inclusive, allowing businesses to see binary and transgender people.

Product: Paku (Gold) / Lightly (Gold)

Paku Gardening Tools by PAKU

Creative Directors: Johnson Witehira, James Prier

Client: PAKU

The Paku Toki and Timo are a contemporary re-imagining of two traditional Māori agricultural tools, designed for Māori tamariki to grow up with things that reflect who they are and where they come from. A key question throughout this journey was, how to engage with mātauranga Māori and Māori communities in a meaningful way.

Lightly by Formway

Design Directors: Paul Wilkinson, Kent Parker

Client: noho

Lightly is a beautiful, comfortable chair designed to enrich our increasingly multifunctional spaces. Light weight and efficient stacking mean Lightly can be easily stored, ready for its next outing. The first chair to be made with the plant-based polymer EcoPAXX, it’s also created with the lightest touch on the environment.

Toitanga: Wairau Māori Art Gallery (Gold) / Ngā Ara Tipuna (Bronze)

Wairau Māori Art Gallery by Extended Whānau

Design Director: Tyrone Ohia

Client: Wairau Māori Art Gallery

Wairau Māori Art Gallery is the first dedicated public Māori art gallery in Aotearoa. It’s housed within the new Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangārei, with the purpose to elevate Māori art, artists and curators. This project saw Extended Whānau tasked with developing the identity system for the gallery upon its launch in February 2022.

Ngā Ara Tipuna by Locales

Design Director: Leigh Bardsley

Client: Central Hawke's Bay District Council/Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea

Ngā Ara Tipuna was initiated by mana whenua of the Waipukurau-Takapau rohe, who wished to make their authentic histories of this place visible on the land. Ngā Ara Tipuna interprets the network of pā and extensive wetlands that once covered this rohe, through digital media, signage, sculptural structures, whakairo, and other artwork. These invite visitors and locals to go back in time 400 years and view the landscape through a different lens.

Graphic: Hellzapoppin'! (Purple) / Burly Gin (Gold)

Hellzapoppin'! by Bathgate Design

Design Director: Alec Bathgate

Client: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

The DIY Flying Nun aesthetic was foundational to a generation of impressionable young creators and agitators. Crowd-funded and yet of gallery standard, this book documents everything from rare collectible records and vintage posters to original artworks and paste-up designs. It explores the art and artists behind some of New Zealand’s favourite bands, utilising pre-computer paste-up techniques and typesetting as a nod to the era in which the original works were created.

Burly Gin by DDMMYY

Design Director: Kelvin Soh

Client: Burly Gin

Tasked with creating a premium artisan gin inspired by its hometown, Burleigh Heads in Queensland, DDMMYY painted pictures of sipping G&Ts on a sun-kissed beach through its brand identity. Its logo is based on the Pandanus tree which dots the coastline, its ingredients are regionally inspired, and the unique bottle silhouette is effortlessly natural in nature, yet totally unique in market.

Moving Image: George Harrison "Isn't it a Pity" (Purple) / Guardian Maia (Gold)

George Harrison "Isn't it a Pity" by Assembly

Design Directors: Jonny Kofoed, Alan Bibby

Client: UMe

One of George's most beautiful and timeless songs, ‘Isn't it a Pity’ never had a video on its release, so 50 years later, we wanted to pair the song with a film that nodded to the era while simultaneously pulling it into the 21st Century. The tone of the film reflects the touching sentiment of the song coupled with George's own sense of the absurd and his spirituality.

Guardian Maia by Metia Interactive

Design Director: Maru Nihoniho

Client: N/A

Guardian Maia is an action-adventure story for a game that includes exploration, puzzle solving, fast-paced combat, and meaningful choices that effect both the real and spiritual worlds and the game mechanics. Set in a post-apocalyptic Aotearoa, seven hundred years in the future, the story takes Maia through harsh environments, abandoned ruins, and into the spirit realms of the Māori atua.

Spatial: Matariki Lights (Gold) / Kākāpō Creek Children's Garden (Gold)

Matariki Lights by Creature Post

Design Director: Lakshman Anandanayagam

Client: Stardome

To celebrate New Zealand's first ever indigenously led holiday of Matariki, an immersive light and sound installation illuminated the meaning of Matariki in a free nightly show at the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium. Matariki Lights combines 9 moving beams of light (representing the 9 stars of Matariki) with waves of sound composition infused with taonga pūoro to celebrate the traditional phases of Matariki celebration.

Kākāpō Creek Children's Garden by Smith Architects

Design Director: Phil Smith

Client: Ian & Kaye McKean

Mairangi Bay’s Kākāpō Creek is founded on the idea of Nga Hau E Wha, the four winds, being symbolic as a meeting place for people from all backgrounds. This idea is embodied in the design of the building, with its circular shape creating a central meeting space, and four main classrooms arranged around it. The shape of the curve was derived from the shape of the stream which forms the site boundary on the northern side of the building and helps root the building in its place.

Value of Design: METALBIRD/MOA HOLDINGS (Purple) / Customer-First Transformation (Purple)


Design Director: Zoe Mc Nicholas

Client: N/A

Design thinking has shaped Metalbird structurally and philosophically, from its origins as a recreational art project, to a successful global enterprise selling sihouettes of iconic birds, a global digital marketing effort that doubles as an online interactive map where users worldwide post their Metalbirds. Metalbird took the principles of simplicity, scalability and quality behind the product, and applied them across the company, resulting in a single business with a unified vision.

Customer-First Transformation by The Warehouse Group

Design Director: Luke Pittar

Client: TRA

Design thinking was the key to putting TWG’s customers first in every decision. The transformation’s success is evident in its response to the rapidly changing needs and habits of customers throughout the pandemic, and how this has resulted in improvements to its product and shopping experience, as well as an uplift in share performance.

Public Good: Mixed Meds (Purple) / Support Local, Shop Local (Gold)

Mixed Meds by Clemenger BBDO Wellington
Design Directors: Steve Hansen, JP Twaalfhoven, Pete Baker
Client: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

78% of New Zealand drivers who die in drug-related crashes don’t have just one substance in their system. They have a combination. Often prescription medication is one of them. The visual representation of Mixed Meds in this integrated campaign makes the unseen causes of harm on our roads visible and visceral.

Support Local, Shop Local by Stanley St
Design Directors: Sam Cox, Peter Wujkowski, Gaelyn Churchill, Haruka Kawamoto
Client: Self-Initiated

When lockdown forced New Zealand to a grinding halt, no one felt the economic burden more than our SMEs. Few were prepared for the impact on their incomes, savings, assets, relationships and mental health. Working with local businesses, Support Local, Shop Local identified key needs and how it could help. With a sense of urgency and mission, it crafted a national campaign and usable resources, all in 12 days whilst under level 4 lockdown.

The Best Design Awards were established in 1988 and have been held annually since 1996. All winner’s entries can be viewed online at www.bestawards.co.nz.

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