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Sehr gut: New Zealand designers win big at German Design Awards

New Zealand is, of course, quite a small country in the worldwide scheme of things. But it’s also well-known that it’s a country that often punches far above its weight. That’s been proven once again, as a gaggle of Kiwi designers have won prestigious prizes at this year’s German Design Awards – considered one of the world’s top design awards.

One winner was Crosson Architects, who brought home the proverbial bacon with the Excellent Communications Design Architecture award for their work on Red House. The Red House is a compact and cost-effective home in a pocket of native New Zealand bush, conceived as a simple abstract cube sitting within its natural surrounds. A striking red colour was chosen as a contrast to the green of the bush, and adds an element of life and the slightly unexpected. Corrugated iron cladding is articulated with the placement of vertical and horizontal sheets in random patterns breaking up the scale of the building. As the jury stated in awarding the prize: “This cube-shaped building is ensconced in nature, where it creates a fascinating contrast to the surrounding greenery not only by virtue of its clear design aesthetic, but also and above all thanks to the vertical and horizontal metal plates used in its façade – whose red colour makes for a lively element.”

Another winner, in the Excellent Product Design Baby and Child Care category, was Chrometoaster and their Game of Awesome. Game of Awesome, which Idealog has covered before, inspires children to start writing. Free to schools in New Zealand, the game was co-designed with 8 to 12 year-old students and educational experts to improve literacy in an unconventional manner. Through entertaining gameplay, it unlocks imagination and fosters a new love of language. Playing cards featuring hilarious ideas and quirky illustrations prompt creative self-expression, while variations of the rules encourage social interaction and storytelling. As the jury stated in awarding Chromestoaster the win, “the humour and cool illustrations featured in Game of Awesome are a perfect fit with the proclivities of the product’s target group; plus the game impeccably fulfils its main purpose, which is to promote kids’ reading and writing abilities.”

A catalogue about Rannoch, a property on the side of Auckland’s Mt Eden volcano, also won the Excellent Communications Design Books and Calendars category. Designed by Inhouse Design (who won a Purple Pin at last year’s Best Design Awards for their work bringing Steinlager’s Tokyo Dry to life – which Idealog covered here) for client Simon Devitt, the catalogue exudes the character, energy and passions of the property’s current resident, Sir James Wallace. Known as one of New Zealand’s biggest arts patrons, Wallace began purchasing and commissioning works in the 1960s, after being inspired by the galleries of Boston, Massachusetts. His collection now numbers in excess of 9,000 pieces. “The impressive collection is appropriately presented in this beautifully designed catalogue,” the jury said.

The bottom line: New Zealand design is fine, thank you very much. Or, at least, there are designers continuing to do interesting things.

There’s a German phrase that sums it up best: Kleinvieh macht auch Mist (“small animals also make dung,” but basically meaning small amounts can add up to something greater).

Review overview