Get ready for a colour explosion at Designday

Urbis Designday 2012

From graphics to interactive videos, light works and temporary architectural pavilions to shoes, catwalks and culinary art, Urbis Designday will serve up a sensory feast for design lovers on Saturday when the results of collaborations between more than 50 of the country’s premiere creatives debut.

They were tasked with coming up with a series of temporary installations interpreting the 2012 theme, ‘Colour in Motion’, melding disciplines from fashion, art, architecture, interiors and furniture to landscape, spatial and graphic design.

Come Saturday, guests will be chauffeured around a circuit of showrooms around Auckland and have the chance to rate the projects as part of the ‘People’s Choice Award.

The creative pairings are:

* Design 55 + World and Reuben Paterson

* ECC Lighting + Zambesi and Auckland War Memorial Museum

* BoConcept + Leeann Yare and Huffer

* Spazio Casa + the team at M.A.C Cosmetics (with Amber D.)

* Essenze + Rachael Lovelace

* Coastal Design + Kathryn Wilson and Touch of Spice

* Resene + Kohler Design Centre + Art Associates

* Fisher & Paykel + Alt Group

* Hewlett Packard + Unitec

* Hafele + Xanthe White

* Douglas & Bec + Workroom Design

* MINI New Zealand + Material Creative and Urbis

While we can't give away too much before the works are unveiled to the public, we did have a chat to a couple of people involved with Designday ahead of this weekend, when it all kicks off.

Mark Elmore, head of industrial design at Fisher & Paykel Appliances.

Mark Elmore - Fisher & Paykel AppliancesWhat led you to getting involved in Designday?

The design team at Fisher & Paykel have always been curious about how people live, eat and entertain.  We recognise that the kitchen isn’t just a functional space, it is central to how we go about and enjoy daily life, and understanding those dynamics is at the heart of our appliance design.

Having developed our thinking about the kitchen’s place in the home and in our lives, we crystallised the ‘Social Kitchen’ concept. Urbis Designday was an ideal opportunity to then engage with our customers on this idea and find out what they thought was important.

How did you approach the project? What was the inspiration?
What we wanted to do was bring the Fisher & Paykel design lab into the public arena – to share what we as designers and engineers found inspiring and interesting when designing appliances, and to put those same things to the people we design for. Our constant inspiration is to really understand how life is lived in and around the kitchen, so we can better our designs. Ultimately, our Social Kitchen installations look to offer an experience of that process and genuinely involve the end user.

How do you manage a collaboration of this scale between an appliance company and a design studio? Where is the common ground in your design disciplines?

It’s a common phrase – too many cooks spoil the broth, but it couldn’t be less true in our case with Alt. We have a really close working relationship with the Alt team and share a common interest in how design and functionality meet to create real value in the everyday. This project was simply an extension of our normal collaborations, though perhaps on a slightly larger scale!

Last year’s Social Kitchen won a DINZ Purple Pin. What new and exciting things can we expect from the latest iteration?

Building on last year’s offering, we’ve taken things a step further to bring the design lab into public arena using a 70-metre long experience-based concept kitchen. Without giving too much away, we’ll be inviting people to participate and experiment with food and cooking, prompting them to think about the life they live around our kitchen products.

Wellington has long been known as our creative/cultural capital. Do you think Auckland is starting to come into its own?
I personally think Auckland has a huge creative capacity. And it’s great to see events like Designday providing a regular and popular outlet for us to showcase our collective talents. However, for Fisher & Paykel, this was equally a NZ-wide project, with our Dunedin-based design team contributing as much as we have from Auckland to the concept and final installation.

Liz Findlay, Zambesi

Liz FindlayWhat led you to get involved in Designday?

Our brand partner, ECC Lighting & Furniture, invited us to collaborate with them for Urbis Designday 2012. This will be the second time we have worked together to create a Designday installation.
How did you approach the project? What was the inspiration?

We sat down and worked through some ideas with ECC and the Auckland Museum, with whom ECC have an association. Our installation is inspired by our current winter collection – the challenge was to infuse this with ECC’s lighting products and Auckland Museum’s artifacts.
Your installation is the result of a collaboration between a lighting and furniture showroom, fashion designers and a museum. How do you manage the design ideas and expectations of this type of collaboration?

Managing a project of this type is always a big team effort. It takes loads of enthusiasm and creative talent.

What can people expect on the day?

Expect the unexpected!

Wellington has long been known as our creative/cultural capital. Do you think Auckland is starting to come into its own?

I think Auckland has always had great cultural credentials...

You've been in the business 30 years – what's changed and what hasn't? How do you stay fresh and innovative?

Working with fresh and innovative minds!

Alice Taylor, project manager at Auckland Museum

Alice TaylorWhat led you to get involved in Designday?

Auckland Museum is lucky to have ECC as a sponsor, helping us make our mark on the city’s night skyline. We were conscious in establishing the sponsorship that we wanted to look at creative ways to work together that went beyond lighting the building and the Urbis Design Day was the first opportunity that came along. ECC invited us to participate alongside Zambesi and after even the earliest conversations we could see the potential for our collections to be interpreted by these two innovative, artistic companies. Great design – in whatever form it takes – comes from great inspiration.

Would you say the museum is looking to tap more into the creative community? If so, what else is it doing in this space?

There is a growing school of thought that puts modern museums at the heart of the creative city. I think it is fair to say they’re a place the creative community can “call home” and that they can draw inspiration from. As well as working with the creative community, the museum inspires creative endeavors. We certainly know of furniture and product designers that have used the museum to spark inspiration.

In terms of the day-to-day of museum life we are very keen to explore new ways of telling stories that resonate with our audiences and that drives us to work with a wide range of people, organisations and communities. The creative community is a very important contact and source of input for us but it’s arguably not a new one.

With each new exhibition project, for example, we reach into new communities and with our t-shirt exhibition Identi-Tee (March 9 – Sept 9) we have worked with Pacific and Maori artists, designers, musicians and creative thinkers. We have a talented display team to create the exhibitions and the galleries in the form you see them when you visit the museum. We also work closely with other industry professionals on the physical design and we encourage input on exhibition concepts from a wide range of sources.

Another current exhibition, You Are Here: Mapping Auckland, pulled on the creative input of Unitec design lecturer Cris de Groot and a team of his students and University of Auckland architecture and planning lecturer Kathy Waghorn to help bring alive the stories and the history of the maps in our collections and to develop an interactive mapping table. Beyond that our events and programmes draw input from right across the creative sector – authors, musicians, actors, artists, designers, dancers and filmmakers.

What can you say about your installation – any hints as to what to expect?

Ha! My hint: the nature of this project is something that has never been seen outside the museum before and it shows some of our natural history objects from an unexpected point of view. I’m not saying any more – you’ll just have to come and see it.

How did you approach the project? What was the inspiration?

ECC and Zambesi had an initial meeting at the museum where we took everyone for a behind the scenes tour of some of our collection. Our inspiration was to capture something that showcases the museum in a surprising and unexpected way, while at the same time complementing what Zambesi and ECC offer from a design/fashion perspective. We also had to consider how we could take that idea beyond the walls of the Museum in a way that would make an impact but still allow our curators and conservators to sleep easily at night!

Wellington has long been known as our creative/cultural capital. Do you think Auckland is starting to come into its own?

I’m not sure creativity can be bottled and put into geographic areas. Where does the rest of New Zealand fit into that? If it was to be a competition – I would say Auckland is giving Wellington a good run for its money. The other part of that equation is that if you think of Auckland as a major hub for business then you’d have to hope it’s a major creative centre as well otherwise there would be some pretty pedestrian ideas and products out there. I’d like to think this project with the museum, ECC and Zambesi will tangible evidence that Auckland has creativity in spades.

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