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The 2023 National Best Design Awards showcase local talent

AI investigative journalism, e-commerce platforms and alcohol brands are among the winning work celebrated at the 2023 National Best Design Awards.

The National Best Design Awards celebrated the Aotearoa design scene, showcasing the excellence of digital, product, graphic design and so much more.

Cathy Veninga, Chief Executive of Toi Manahau Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) – hosts of the event – says that the design scene this year saw many on the world stage.

“The winning projects told important, engaging stories and dealt with confronting themes, offered innovative solutions to real problems, and pushed the boundaries of what design can do, whilst showing exceptional technical craft,” she says.

At the National Best Design Awards, accolades are awarded by Black, Purple, Gold, Silver or Bronze pins.

Gladeye’s design for the Rolling Stones digital story “The DJ and the War Crimes” took home the gold award for digital design.

Judges say the design marked a shift in investigative journalism where the advancement of technology is utilised.

Team Heroine’s “Correct the internet” designed by DDG Group Aotearoa and Finch and Blunt Umbrella’s e-commerce website by Studio Almond also took gold for digital design.

For the Blunt Umbrella’s e-commerce site, judges say their price point is “communicated well” but “wasn’t superfluous”.

For Spatial design, the Faradays site by Cheshire Architects and RK Residence by Seear-Budd Ross took the gold award.

Judges says the retail space for Faradays “create a sophisticated and abundant retail experience” that highlights thoughtful design and conscious abundance.

The design for RK Residence according to the judges “adapts vernacular typologies to create a serene, beautifully crafted home that seamlessly merges with its environment”.

Read more: Studio Almond: The desirable e-commerce design studio

Skincare company RAAIE took the silver award for Product design created by Studio Lowrie for their uniqueness and ability to stand out in an industry full of cheap plastic packaging. 

Shapewear company Kynn’s Graphic design by Marx Design is awarded Gold for its ability to promote inclusivity, body confidence, their sustainable practices and more through innovative designs.

“Plus the packaging itself double as colour swatches to match skin tone,” says DINZ.

Kathmandu’s campaign “Summer Never Sleeps” by Special Group wins the Purple and Gold awards for Best Moving Image design, siting that it stood out for their “beautifully executed elements”.

The best Public Good design saw Fire For Life by Escea LTD win the purple and gold award.

Designed over six years, the not-for-profit project saw fireplace designers and engineers in Dunedin support families in displacement camps in Syria with cooking stoves that are designed to use less fuel, cook faster, easily transportable and produce less smoke.

EXHIBIT A-I by Howatson+Company also took home gold for best Public Good design where they collaborated with AI technicians to generate visual evidence of experiences refugees are facing on Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island over 10 years.

“A stunning example of how AI technology can be put to good use in the right hands, giving hope that new technologies in design can give authentic voices where images are not always available. Technology mixed with human craft achieving something extraordinary,” says the judges.

For the Toitanga award, Taumata o Kupe by TOA Architects took the purple and gold award for their design that depicts a traditional Māori whare in a contemporary but innovative way.

Judges say it was a clear stand that captured their hearts and minds.

With all the recognised world-class work, Veninga says she can’t wait for what the next year holds for the design industry.

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Review overview