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Design win-win at BEST awards


October 2009

Design win-win at BEST awards

Interior Design students Emily Pita and Charmaine Smit achieved a double award win for Wellington Institute of Technology at this year’s BEST Design Awards.

The students were acknowledged with a gold and bronze at New Zealand’s most prestigious design awards for their unique approach to the topics of cultural identity and environmental sustainability.

Emily Pita received gold for Bloodline, a design which was inspired by her Samoan heritage. Making her mark on this year’s competition, Emily describes her reaction to winning the award as “walking on sunshine.”

Her award-wining concept proposes a workspace for Pacifica artists and designers, where the traditional patterns of Samoan tattoo are carved into the walls, floor and ceiling of the interior.

“The purpose of the design was to remind Pacifica artists of their rich artistic heritage. I wanted a space that encouraged artists to be inspired by looking back as well as forward,” says Emily. “It’s really encouraging to know the judges understood and appreciated the concept.”

A series of tattoos within the interior spaces of her design mirror the traditional stages of Samoan tattoo. “The design incorporates the traditional pe’a (tattoo). Each segment of the pe’a is a representation of strength, power, pride and accomplishment, with every floor creating a positive/negative pattern that is tattooed into the surfaces of the building forever, like ink to skin, blood to veins,” says Emily.

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Fellow classmate and bronze BEST award winner, Charmaine Smit, also created an impact at this year’s event with her eco friendly gym design. One student who doesn’t believe in wasted effort, her design proposes a way to harness the energy of gym members to fuel the building itself.

Her concept works on the principle that kinetic energy the body expels can be collected as electricity. It replaces the standard treadmill with a rotating globe, which enables people to work out while storing the energy they generate.

Charmaine was inspired by the idea that people exercising at gyms expend a lot of energy that is simply wasted. “The design concept is win-win,” says Charmaine “it’s good for both the environment and for people.”

Emily and Charmaine both credit their success to the support they received from their tutors. “What’s great about studying Interior Design at WelTec is the practical, hands-on nature of the learning. I really appreciate the one to one time we get with tutors - I’ve learnt so much from listening and talking with them. Together, they have a huge range of expertise from set design and architecture to academic research,” says Emily.

While winning the awards still hasn’t completely sunk in for the two students, the achievement has encouraged their hope to secure roles in the interior design industry. “Gaining such a prestigious award is really encouraging,” says Charmaine, “it’s a great boost to my CV and will help me to gain the work experience I need before I’m ready to start my own design business.”

Image caption: WelTec Interior Design students Emily Pita and Charmaine Smit gain gold and bronze at BEST Design Awards.


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