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25 things with Peter Haythornthwaite, part five

Peter Haythornthwaite – industrial and creative design deity, Designers Institute of New Zealand fellow, owner of an ONZM for services to design, and current exhibitor of his life’s work at Objectspace Gallery in Auckland – knows things, loves things, predicts things, worries about things and improves things. In part five, he lists five New Zealand-designed things he believes people will love.

1. Jamie McLellan’s Spar Light 

Jamie has an ability to reduce objects to their minimal essentials. A power cord is often employed to hang a light fitting. But here the cord is integral to the floor mounted canterlievered light structure. No cord, no structure. Red defines it as the source of energy. An elegant reductionist structure that brings ‘A Smile in the Mind’* (*McAlhome & Stuart).  

2. Antipodes water bottle

In a sense it’s ‘nothing’, but it's everything in terms of expressing and carrying pure mineral water. With no embellishments, and minimal graphics, the bottle declares that what’s inside is very good. It’s honest. There’s no pretence, no gilding. What it looks like is what it is. Design that’s good to hold, no shouting, but there for our fulfilment.

3. Mark Cleverley’s stamps 

In 1970 the New Zealand Post Office held a competition to design a new set of stamps. Mark’s winning designs represented a coming of age of design in this field. Rather than depict scenes and information realistically, Mark abridged his designs to graphic shapes, planes, layers and strong colour. The results were striking stamps that removed extraneous information and that were fresh, clear and contemporary. Memorable. Finally we had stamps that did us proud, internationally, and represented an innovative nation. They’re timeless.

4. Paul Mason’s design craft 

Paul is the consummate master craftsman/designer. His attention to detail is faultless. Whatever medium he uses he controls it. We have a number of Paul’s objects, all have their special place because of their materiality – intrinsic value, craftsmanship, visual and tangible qualities. One of his bowls constantly pleases me – how could he make something so perfect, using different woods and shell to be so durable, so fine to gaze upon, just so beautiful? Thank goodness he did.

5. Peter Tasker’s purposeful design 

Almost every time my wife Carol and I go across to Australia we buy, for family and friends, Tasker’s brush and pan sets. Why? Because this product is the epitome of purposeful functionality. It’s pared back to a robust minimum, comfortable to hold and hungry to pick up the dust and scraps. I often reflect that the manufacturer really doesn't know how good the product is – all of Tasker’s brush designs could have a life in Australia (there’s nothing as functional, well-considered or so proven) and other parts of the world. And it’s pretty darn affordable.

Previously: 

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