Helix Design symposium.

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Run by Design Co. (a collaboration of the design schools of AUT, Massey University, Victoria University and Otago Polytechnic along with the Designers Institute of New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) HELIX was a first step towards a cohesive voice for Design in New Zealand.

Over two days the great and the good of our industry plus some extraordinary young talents shared their views, analysis and visions.

A few themes emerged. Not surprisingly one of them was dear old number 8 wire.  As an antipodean offshoot of a European design tradition, isolation and scarcity forged an inventiveness that characterises us still.  But many feel we have not yet balanced this with the scaling up discipline necessary for large scale international success. DNA's Stacey Orr nicely encapsulated it as 'we’re good at the sprint – but can we last the marathon?'

Our past was also characterised as being Eurocentric and male dominated. And on the downside the current official infatuation with engineering, maths, science and technology was seen to relegate design to the margins.

The New Zealand story was described as try hard and cringeworthy and the flag fiasco is evidence that we have a ways to go before we have a sophisticated national design culture.

As for the future, DNA's Noel Brown was among a group of speakers calling for a greater focus on design for social innovation and the development of a unique New Zealand design approach drawing on both the European design legacy and Maori creative practice.

A final strategy session identified three imperatives for the 'Design DNA' project:

EDUCATION - Creating design natives through education across all levels

SOCIAL INNOVATION - New Zealand as an incubator for social design

ADVOCACY - A common design vision for New Zealand.

For more, check out Design Co. 


Images are extracts from Stacy's presentation at Helix 2015.