A material world

In a new exhibition called 'Material Matters', AUT University students have created small pieces of furniture and lighting pieces, exploring design around a dominant material (glass, timber or metal).

Oooh, it's always fun to see what our young designers are up to. And as the school year comes to a close, we can expect to see a flurry of portfolio work on display.

This week, AUT University is showcasing the works of its product design students, in an exhibition titled Material Matters. 

Each piece on show takes its inspiration from a brief asking the students to design a small piece of furniture or lighting piece around a dominant material of glass, timber or metal; the final product also had to combine another material to finish.

The student work this year includes an indoor micro herb planter, copper pendant light, back-lit mirror and a task light.

Student: Kelly-Anne Keach
Design piece: Salt and pepper mills, of spun metal and cast concrete

Bec Dowie, of furniture design studio Douglas and Bec, mentored the students throughout the process, following a successful collaboration last year.

The designer says she's very pleased with the students’ efforts this year and the thoughtful work they've produced.

“I thoroughly enjoy my time at AUT. It is a truly invigorating and rewarding experience," she says.

"I love to help the students resolve their work, stepping inside their practice and encouraging them along the way."

Bec has also enjoyed introducing students to traditional processes such as steam bending and wood turning.

"The potential of combining these technique with 3D printing or laser cutting makes for fantastic work."

Student: John Wong
Design piece: Lunar Mirror, a mirror that lights  up by touch

Collaboration with respected industry partners like Douglas and Bec gives the student a sense of perspective, says Shane Inder, senior lecturer and head of AUT’s industrial design and innovation department.

“Artisan designs such as those produced by Douglas and Bec are having a resurgence through locally produced pieces made from renewable materials," says Shane.

"These designs are not only fashionable and desirable, but are also an expression of sustainable values.”

Material Matters is open until November 17 at AUT University’s Art and Design Building, St Paul Street, Auckland CBD.