The ‘Aotearoa House’ Exhibition

November 02, 2017 at 8:16 AM

With thanks to former Creative Director, Ms Demelza Round 

What is New Zealand's unique design character? Most people can close their eyes and conjure images of Scandinavian, Italian or German Design; but what about us here in Aotearoa, what is our design language or more importantly what could it be? 

At a past design conference, one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Johnston Witehira from AUT. He presented a cross-disciplinary project that asked the question, 'What if we started with our major point of difference; Maori culture?' His ethos was not to produce 'Maori Design’ but rather to include a Maori world view and narratives into the design process. 

Technology and Visual Art at Saint Kentigern College is underpinned by the aim of developing a collaborative culture that fosters visual and design literacy through creative and critical practice. Part of this means we work to develop cross-disciplinary learning experiences and actively seek experts to help develop courses and mentor students.  Earlier in the year, Dr Witehira was invited to run an immersive workshop with our students and staff. He engaged our students in discourse about the difference between a ‘tokenistic cultural’ project and authentic design, opening up the opportunity for students to explore the development of a contemporary design language, that is, to create totally unique outcomes, rather than replicating ideas that already exist.

Taking the name, ‘Aotearoa House,’ this newfound thinking became the focus of a year-long project for our technology students, with each learning area having a slightly different focus. Our Product Design students have unpacked the contents of a modern kitchen and have designed new products for this environment, while Food Technology students have investigated native New Zealand ingredients and how these can be used to develop new and innovative food products targeted initially at the artisan food market with the potential for overseas export. Fashion and Textile Design students looked into high fashion and couture, while Art Design students concentrated on creating a unique typeface for local iwi and Sculpture students investigated the place of adornment and taonga in contemporary practice. 

The Aotearoa House Project finished with an exhibition that opened last night in the Jack Paine Centre for students to year to showcase their outcomes for all to see. They can be justifiably proud of their work.

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