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310 of the Best

310 of the Best

A guitar with a body sculpted like a spider web, uber cool packaging for compost, a Mexican restaurant, a fanzine for motorcyclists, a tiny cinema in a stair well, and various pop up shops in Auckland’s Viaduct and Christchurch Re:START container mall are among the 310 finalists in this year’s Best Design Awards, which are organised by the Designers Institute of New Zealand and recognise the country’s best graphic, interactive, spatial and product designs from the past year. 

  • Check out all the finalists here

DINZ chief executive Cathy Veninga says the institute has revised the awards criteria this year to ensure they were stimulating and competitive in a way that continued to push boundaries and raise standards, "standards that the design community demonstrates they are more than capable of rising to". 

"The premium award, the Purple Pin, is highly sought after and this year the standard of entries is very, very high. It is also great to see many of the smaller studios entering the awards, and making it into the finalist categories. The finalists’ website is already attracting interest from international bloggers.”

Veninga says the graphics discipline was one of the strongest ever, while Peter Roband, convenor of the graphics judging panel said that some graphics categories had "really run away". 

"Editorial and Books and the Graphic Design Arts categories were outstanding, as was the student category."

Roband says that in the graphics packaging section entries such as Living Earth compost and garden products by Fracture "bent out of shape what we think of organic products". 

"Who said organic has to be slavishly dull? These entries were vital, colourful and quirky."

Special Group nabbed finalists for OOB icecream, Four's Home of Not Rugby and Gravity Coffee, alongside the likes of Supply's Stoke bomber, Home New Zealand, Dow's Heller's work, DDMMYY's Stolen Rum, Alt Group's work for Fisher & Paykel, Strategy's Kathmandu brand, Mahi FX and its own inhouse mag Thinking and many others. 


Another stand out entry was the Air New Zealand black plane by Designworks Auckland, which judge Paul van Barneveld, president of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), found refreshing. 

In the interactive section, now a separate discipline, TV3’s No Place I’d Rather be graphics is a finalist, as is Telecom’s digital wall at Auckland Airport. TBWA\'s Life's Choice, M&C Saatchi's Orcon Spider Bots, Strategy's Mahi FX, Special Group's AXIS Awards video, Resn's Camry Effect and Light Games, Springload's Kiwibank mobile app, Chrometoaster's Sorted website and many others also made the cut. 

Typography was also making a strong comeback, says Roband.

"We all got computers in the 1990s and typography went out the window, but it is coming back. Work is becoming more artistic again, and people care about typography and hand drawn illustrations. There was a trend towards craft, purity and simplicity, especially in some categories such as the small identity category which had beautifully thought through and executed entries."

Other attention-grabbing finalists included in the product discipline, B Brush, a toothbrush in a sleek lipstick style case for people on the go; Box Living, a prefabricated building system inspired by the modernist post war architectural movement; and a stylish urban plastic and wooden beehive, designed for flat pack assembly and to get city slickers on board to boost the country’s declining bee population.

New buildings and landscape designs in Auckland’s Viaduct, Imperial Lane and Wynyard Quarter feature strongly in the spatial discipline, as does a refit for the Carter Observatory in Wellington and MOTAT Museum in Auckland’s dramatic new aviation hall. There were also strong entries in the restaurant category, including Mexico in Britomart and Nuffield Café in Newmarket. Another category that wowed was retail design, with Ruby in Newmarket, Glassons in Queen Street, and Platinum in Victoria Park Market among the finalists.

The winners of this year’s Best Design Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland on Friday, 5 October.

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