A group of Massey design students have been awarded for helping outdoor enthusiasts find their way

Adding to their Designers Institute Best Award from last year, a group of Massey design students are now getting international recognition as they were handed an award in Seattle last week.

Bachelor of Design Honours students Oliver Ward, Josie Schultz, Steph Tidey, Rachael Jupp, and Rhianna Field were handed a Merit Award from the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) for their way-finding project for Wellington’s Makara Peak mountain bike park. One of the judges from the awards in Seattle says, “It’s hard for me to accept that this is a student project. The visual identity and way-finding system is beautiful, in harmony with the park and designed with visitor needs at its centre.”

Makara Peak mountain bike park is a purpose built bike park set in 250 hectares of bird filled native bush. With more than 40 kilometres of track and 100,000 visitors per year, the park was needing an easier way for new mountain bikers and walkers to navigate the area. The Massey students went about developing a system of colour-coded signage to inform users where they were, the direction they were heading, distance, grade and level of difficulty.  Biking tips were also placed on beginner and easy grade tracks, and the signs were adjusted depending on whether the biker was riding uphill or downhill.

“The students went and rode the park, and got lost, so they responded to a clear need by developing a way-showing system which draws from the visual language of ski fields and the universalism of, for example, airports” says course lecturer Karl Kane. “Now no prior knowledge is required to navigate the park.”

The project was a part of the Creative Enterprise paper which involves a client coming forward with a strategic problem or opportunity and the students finding a way of addressing that. The client for this project was the Makara Peak Supporters Group who aims to create a world-class mountain bike park in restored native forest, and hopes to encourage more young and novice riders to enjoy what the park has to offer. With the Wainuiomata and Colonial Knob mountain bike parks being inspired by the students’ design, the project has formed a consistent visual language which could form the basis of a nationally recognised way-finding system.