Collaborative design project launches nine new products

Every year Otago Polytechnic Product Design School and Port Chalmers Design Store owners Becs Wilson and Sarah Wood join forces to create a real-life, pressure-boiler situation for students, forcing them to come up with a product idea, design, manufacture and brand it – all in just 10 weeks. Oh, and the product has to be in store for under $80.

This year's lot have weathered the pressure, though, and emerged at the end of a bumper semester with nine new products that could easily be hot sellers in stores around the country, according to design lecturer and product creator Machiko Niimi.

Their creations range from native New Zealand manuka and pohutukawa decals for walls to jewellery inspired by old seafarer knots and aeronautical themed gift cards, which can be made into mobiles.

“We’ve been running this project with the Port Chalmers Design Store directors for six years, and each year the project has improved with how we get the best out of the real life client/designer relationship.  It’s a very good and rare example of an institute and business working together,” said Niimi.

She said the joint project – now in its sixth year – is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and provides students with an opportunity to experience the realities of being a design professional. 

“They have to get through ideological barriers, creative blocks, manufacturing challenges and then, fatigue! But that is what makes it real life, and it’s the real life factor that gives this project the edge. The end product is high quality, New Zealand-made design.”

Wilson said: “We always expect a fairly high attrition rate as students struggle with the small amount of time they have to complete a project and have it store-ready. But this year every student made it through the gauntlet with something to launch."

All the products can be found at

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).