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These are a few of my favourite things: Warren and Mahoney’s Rodney Sampson

What is your favourite

Brand identity?

Apple, a brand that changed the face of a technical-led industry into an industry with a focus on people and design.


Boekhandel Dominicanen – Maastricht Netherlands. A cleverly handled modern insertion within a heritage building with beautiful detailing. We used this project as a precedent for the work we recently completed on the Suter Gallery renovation in Nelson.



My old sketchbooks. I have managed to keep my books for the past 10 years, which has been intriguing to go back through old ideas, sketches, and notes.


Paul Rudolph, Erno Rubik, Kenneth Snelson.

Clothing brand?

Icebreaker – NZ company that continues to lead by example and that delivers on its promise. I was given a pair of Icebreaker sport socks with a promise that you will never get blisters, they do work!

Use of design to change behaviour

More of the use of design to change attitudes – the Len Lye Centre New Plymouth has led a wider audience to believe that buildings are important and can take a variety of shapes and sizes. Importantly, these buildings can become representative of who we are and something we can identify with.

Inspiring design-focused book/podcast/TV show/website/magazine/story?

Portico’s website, designed primarily for architectural students and recent graduates. The site is a fantastic portal to help in demystifying architecture. The site interrogates a variety of topics from the transition from study to practice, to basic drawing skills and communication techniques to discussing how to manage stress, competition and mental well-being for architecture students. 

Project you’ve had a hand in?

Wellington Airport – I have had the benefit of working with the airport on a multitude of projects for the past 10 years. As a client, they have clear vision of who they want to be and are always open to being challenged while also challenging the status quo. Victoria University School of Biological Sciences building – currently under construction, due for completion later this year.

Project you’re envious of?

Snohetta Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion. Simple, clear idea that resulted in an elegant design with a rich palette of limited materials.

What first drew you to design?

It sounds like a cliché, but I grew up on building sites and construction was part of who I was from a very young age. It was inevitable that I ended up in this industry. The mix of creativity and technical complexity drew me to architecture.

Where does inspiration come from?

Typically from the people that I get to work with on each project. These people can range from our own team of talented people, but also the clients I work with. I have had the opportunity to engage with artists, curators, world-class scientists. At the end of the day, each client involved in a project is about to experience a significant change and our role is to help facilitate this transformation. Working through the vision for where they want to be in 10 to 15 years is an extremely inspirational process. I am fortunate to work on The Gateway Science project a new School of Biological Science at Victoria University of Wellington where we worked not only with scientists but also with curators, cultural advisors and had the chance to test new learning models with the university.  

Do you have a design ethos/motto you abide by in your work?

Always keep an open mind, be bold, listen and most importantly, always be respectful.

How would you define New Zealand’s current design culture? 

I believe the industry has matured significantly over the past 10 years; we have a great platform that we can now confidently foot it with the best in the world. As New Zealanders, we have real social and cultural maturity that sets us apart from large parts of the world and therefore we shouldn’t be afraid to make comment on the international stage.

Do you have any creative side hustles going on outside of your line of work? If so, what?

We are currently restoring our house, which was originally designed by Sir Miles Warren in the 1970’s. The aim is to preserve a little slice of Christchurch modern in Wellington.

How has technology impacted on your work?

How do you think it will impact on it in the future? Undoubtedly, technology has made everything faster and more accessible. Information is easier to understand – which has enabled more meaningful conversations with clients and colleagues.  

Who are some of your design heroes?

Kris Sowersby – Klim Type Foundry local designer leading the world from WGTN.

Best design-related advice you ever received?

‘We always work better together’. Being part of the bigger team at Warren and Mahoney ensures that we test a large number of ideas and explore tangents.  This approach ensures we have project first mindset and not about our individual needs. 

What do you enjoy the most about working in this industry?

The people I work with and their passion and commitment. There is never a dull moment. 

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