The Best of the BeST New Zealand Designs
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October 13, 2008
The Best of the BeST New Zealand Designs
An ingenious “now you see it, now you don’t”cook surface; an office furniture system developed by psychologists as well
as designers; a North Shore office building described as New Zealand’s most revolutionary and experimental office block
and an irreverent brand for an Auckland law firm were the major winners of this year’s BeST Design Awards –New Zealand
designs equivalent of the Oscars.
Organised by the Designers Institute of New Zealand, the awards, which celebrate New Zealand’s best designs from the
past year across the disciplines of product, spatial (interior) and graphic design, were presented at a black tie event,
attended by over 620 of the country’s leading creative professionals, at Auckland’s Aotea Centre on Friday, October 10.
This year 558 entries were received for the awards, with an impressive 441 of those coming from the graphic discipline.
Cathy Veninga, Chief Executive Officer of the Designers Institute of New Zealand said the standard of entries,
especially in the graphic categories, was “testament to the phenomenal design talent we have in New Zealand”. The
graphics, she said, were of the highest standard since the BeST Design Awards began in 1988.
Said Cathy Veninga: “Forget about Made-in-China. Made-in-New Zealand design is becoming a highly exportable commodity
and our designs can be found all over the world, from Melbourne to Milan to Chicago.”
This year, four Stringer awards (the supreme award for outstanding achievement) were presented, with a product Stringer
going to Fisher & Paykel for its IZONA CookSurface, a world first in the stove market; and to Formway Furniture, for its innovative
workspace system HUM - Minds at Work.
Alt Group took a Stringer in the graphic discipline for its “contemporary and dryly humorous” identity development for
law firm Hudson Gavin Martin; and a spatial (interior) Stringer was presented to Bligh Voller Nield, in association with
Jasmax, for their design of Sovereign House.
New Zealand’s first ever professor of design, Professor Leong Yap, was awarded the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s
Outstanding Achievement Award for 2008. This award is given to a person within the Institute who has made an
extraordinary contribution to the design industry in New Zealand.
Currently Professor of Design at the School of Art , Postgraduate Studies at Auckland University of Technology (AUT University), Professor Yap has made a major
contribution to the development of design education in New Zealand.
Internationally acclaimed New Zealand yacht designer, Laurie Davidson – best known for his international America’s Cup
class sailboats, which successfully challenged and defended the America’s Cup trophy - won the Designers Institute of
New Zealand’s prestigious John Britten Award for his services to the New Zealand design industry.
Product Design Stringers – IZONA CookSurface and Hum - Minds at Work
Two product Stringers were awarded this year, the first to Fisher & Paykel Appliances for their IZONA CookSurface, which the judges described as a “world first, groundbreaking innovation
in the cooking appliance sector”.
Domestic Gods and Goddesses will love the deceptive nature of the CookSurface stove design. Like something straight out of the Jetsons, it features
a ceramic hob with three hidden pan supports, which, at the push of a button, rise up from the glass surface and ignite
with the simple turn of a dial.
The dial controls provide audio and visual feedback delivering precise linear flame control, with exceptional safety
features such as a parental lock and automatic gas shut-off built into the appliance.
There will be no more slaving over a hot stove or leaning over a hot element to access the rear burners with the
CookSurface’s unique three-in-a-row hob layout, which its developers say is the most effective design in terms of
ergonomics and safety.
Because of its unique design, which sees its hob and pan supports being neatly tucked away from sight when not fired up,
the CookSurface can be used as extra bench space when not in use.
The judges said they were “hugely impressed by its beautifully crafted, sophisticated aesthetic” and they were
“delighted by the magical ritual of lighting the gas hob”.
“The world’s first combination of gas burners set in a sleek glass top will clearly differentiate the CookSurface from
other products in this competitive sector”, said Professor Tony Parker, Head of the Institute of Design for Industry and
the Environment at Wellington’s Massey University and convenor of the product judging.
“The design team have overcome some real technical challenges in developing this gas cooker, which fits seamlessly into
the contemporary kitchen environment and sets new international standards for design in the sector.”
Fisher & Paykel also took silver in the consumer product category for its IZONA CoolDrawer, the world’s first multi-temperature
fridge drawer based on the design principles of its internationally acclaimed and hugely successful DishDrawer.
HUM - Minds at Work, which was awarded the second product Stringer, is a revolutionary office furniture system which is
already being sold in the United States and which comes from the award winning design studio of Wellington based Formway
HUM symbolises the sound of productivity and of a team working well together and was designed to capitalise on the
global demand for collaborative workspaces.
HUM, said the judges, was a stand out category winner in the furniture section. They said they were impressed not only
with its design resolution but also the thorough and sophisticated design research process used in its development.
The result of four years of R including customer research, extensive prototyping, external expert input, and bipartisan reviews, the project team was
determined to produce an office system that would compete in the international furniture market. Customer research
included hundreds of transcripts from customer interviews which were then analysed by organisational psychology and
cognitive ergonomic experts.
Concepts were created, tested, and evaluated in Formway’s living lab. This cycle of testing, evaluating, improving, then
re-testing has made HUM robust in terms of linking the science uncovered in the research phase back to the end product.
HUM’s aesthetic is largely informed by architectural influences. Floating planes, cantilever and negative space are key
visual elements. The fine leg structures leave the system feeling light and open while still providing intelligence for
Designed with the environment in mind, HUM delivers very compelling sustainability credentials and contributes maximum
points toward all environmental building ratings.
HUM has been licensed and is manufactured in the United States through Formway's newest licence partner, Kimball Office
and has already been installed in high profile interiors both in the US and New Zealand.
Spatial (Interior) Design Stringer –Sovereign House
Sovereign House in Tapakuna has been described as the country’s most revolutionary and experimental office block. A $66
million space designed for 750 people, it features glass walled offices literally hanging off vertical internal drops.
Spans of steel-floored glass-sided air bridges – each weighing between 8-10 tonnes - are suspended above and beneath
floors, giving those in transit clear views of others in meeting rooms, at their desks or in the internal street café.
The space was designed by the same architectural partnership, Bligh Voller Nield, of Sydney, and Auckland architects,
Jasmax, who won international recognition for ASB’s building, C:Drive in Albany, which in 2002 was one of 11 winners in
the Business Week Architectural Record Awards in Washington.
Architect James Grose, of Bligh Voller Nield, said he believed Sovereign House was the most advanced commercial project
of its type in New Zealand and Australia, while Sovereign was so delighted by its new headquarters that it published a
full colour coffee table book explaining the building’s rationale.
The book describes the building’s eco-friendly chilled-beam air conditioning, unorthodox lighting design and project
Polished concrete floors, internal outlook lines designed for maximum horizontal and vertical views and complete
exposure of services like heating and air conditioning, are just some of the unusual aspects of the building. The
transparent glass walled offices, changing floor levels and various flooring materials delineating areas are other
hallmarks of the structure which required 112 steel driven piles to be planted into the greenfields site and the
excavation of 15,000 cubic metres of material.
The spatial judges, led by convenor Paul van Lent, said of Sovereign House: “This project is a highly developed
evolution of the open workplace genre which encompasses a wide variety of work, collaboration and social settings within
an interior of impressive scale. The interior is permeated by natural light and visual connections which render the
building’s circulation routes and hierarchy of spaces immediately legible to users.
“The level of spatial complexity engages the senses and is enhanced by apparently ad hoc connections which bridge the
central void. An expressive use of timber lends warmth and humanity to a project which otherwise illustrates an
obsessive attention to technical detail. Despite initially appearing as a functional machine for working within, a true
sense of community prevails.”
Graphic Design Stringer - Hudson Gavin Martin
The Stringer for graphic design was won by Auckland based Alt Group, who took home a staggering eight gold awards at
this year’s BeST Design Awards event. The design studio was presented with the Stringer for their identity development
work for Auckland law firm, Hudson Gavin Martin, which the judges described as an “incredibly brave, focussed piece of
Proving that good things can come in triplicate, Alt Group made playful use of the partners’ three names to introduce
signage, such as ‘Lock, Stock and Barrel’ on doors, and ‘Hop, Skip and Jump’ etched into a front carpet. Alt Group also
added circular TM, copyright and registration symbols to the law firm’s logo to emphasise the partners’expertise in the
copyright, trademark and registration fields. Alt also produced a small fold out brochure sprinkled with word trios,
such as ‘Equities, Assets and Liabilities’; ‘Beg, Borrow, Steal’; and at the end: ‘Ready, Willing and Able’.
While lawyers are typically seen as a conservative bunch, the graphics judges said Alt Group with their “dry as a bone
delivery”had given the three partners a “wonderfully contemporary and humorous edge” and had “clearly shifted the
goalposts for corporate design”.
“The Stringer award winner is a great example of a clever, charming proposal played out through a substantial
multi-dimensional design project. The outcome reflects not only beautiful formal control in typography and photography
from all print pieces through to environmental graphics, but it also hints at the development of a great relationship
between the design company and the client.
“This may either have been the lucky result of attracting a very sophisticated client or it may point to the importance
of the design company’s virtuosity in being able to convince their client to do something out of their comfort zone (or
both). The clever subtle (tongue-in-cheek) humour of the project - in particular in the super-realistic painting style
of the photography - for such a potentially serious conservative client, is very enjoyable. “
Other high profile winners at this year’s BeST Design Awards were:
• Hawke’s Bay furniture designer, David Trubridge who won gold in the designed objects category for his Spiral Islands light and seating arrangement, which symbolises the clouds and sea of The Pacific. The arrangement has already been
exhibited in New York and at the Milan Furniture Fair 2008, where queues formed to see it. As well as the “cloud” lights
and the “island” seating, Trubridge explores the use of the spiral shape, which is related to the koru.
The judges described Spiral Islands as a “beautifully crafted and visually arresting piece, which poetically expresses
through form and tactile materiality the theme of islands and clouds. . . Spiral Islands establishes a benchmark for
product entries in this exciting new Best Awards category (Designed Objects).”
• Swiftpoint Future Mouse, by Christchurch designers 4formfunction - which took gold in the concept/experimental product category - has been
designed, its developers say, to save the traditional mouse from extinction. This intelligent ergonomic laptop device,
already featured on BBC TV, has a triped (three small fin shapes) which makes it look futuristic. Designed for tablet
PCs to replace a pen device, it also has a slider with a click button so that the laptop surface becomes a pad.
• Strategy Design & Advertising’s work for Christchurch’s swish new inner city establishment Hotel SO, which garnered them a gold in the identity development, large scale category; a silver in the environmental graphics
category, and a bronze in the packaging category. Christchurch based Strategy Design & Advertising, who consistently take home awards at each year’s event, created a bold and eye-catching brand for the
hotel stamping their mark on everything from the hotel’s business cards, brochures and in room consumables, to the
buildings exterior, which particularly impressed the judges.
“Most people think of signage as words on a sign, but Strategy Design & Advertising has turned the whole building into a sign, collaborating with other technical disciples to freshly resolve
• Ipad is a new twist on the good old Kiwi bach and is the latest modular concept from awarding winning architect, Andre
Hodgskin. Ipad, which won gold in the residential interior category, can also be used as a secondary dwelling, granny
flat, office or studio.
• Vomo Luxury Villas in Fiji are at the luxury end of spatial (interior) design. With interiors designed by Martin Hughes Architecture
Interiors, and featuring beautiful wood, textures, finishes and colours, the judges said Vomo, which won gold in the
residential interior category, showed a fresh approach to Pacific design.
• Kicks Grass’ Littl’ Juey Line Trimming Technology, designed in Mt Maunganui, has recently been picked up by QVC for sales through the Home Shopping Channel and Home
Depot in the United States. Existing lawn trimmers work with continuous nylon line wound onto a spool and are prone to
breaking or tangling. Littl’ Juey, which was awarded bronze in the consumer product category, has a clip-on line reload
system, and there are no springs, no clips and no catches.
The BeST Design Awards originated in 1988 and have been held annually since 1996.