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A glimpse into the first Auckland Design Week

Celebrating and championing the world of design across Tamaki Makaurau, Jen Jones is the Founder and driver behind the very first ADW (Auckland Design Week), and she sits down with Idealog to talk everything design and where this event is heading.

In the middle of March, Auckland was the base of a plethora of events that celebrated everything design, from architecture to film, graphic design, landscape and so much more.

The event, made for the designers and enthusiasts, was a festival coined Auckland Design Week, ADW for short, and Jen Jones was the leader behind it.

“Why design? I’m not a designer so it’s a very valid question, but I come from the construction side of the industry. I’ve worked with actually some of New Zealand’s most leading designers. I have quite a deep appreciation for what design can do for a space and how it can influence the way that we live, and we work,” she says.

ADW first came about after being in the space and realising that the potential New Zealand has on a design level is often not championed enough.

Jones expresses that after the pandemic, she saw and felt that the industry was plateauing and reaching a point of being stagnant and stale.

“[There is] a need of something fun that actually turn the spotlight onto just the raw talent that we have in New Zealand and what better way to showcase it through a series of design led activities across a week,” she adds.

“It provides an opportunity for people to come together as well and recognize the opportunity to collaborate and learn off each other and thrive.”

Having worked on the event for a year now, Jones realised the strong desire for an event like this was already brewing within the industry. Many design lovers were travelling abroad to attend events similar to ADW and Jones wanted to make it more accessible for the locals.

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For its first year, the reception was already positive, says Jones who found that for many attendees, they were just “excited that there is something rather than nothing”.

Design lovers and enthusiasts who do travel across the world to see other design-specific festivals can see a uniqueness New Zealand has to offer through ADW.

“We’re always going to have as a nation that Number 8 Wire Kiwi ingenuity type approach to everything, it’s no different in the design sector,” says Jones.

“There are a lot of constraints to designing in New Zealand because we have issues with supply chain, we have issues with the cost of materials because we have to get them here, or we have to be really resourceful with what is available to us in New Zealand. What that has done is it’s generated quite a significant amount of creativity and innovation within the design sector.”

By showcasing this, Jones says she is spotlighting that the Kiwi design industry can compete on the global stage and for international observers, they can learn so much from what New Zealand can offer in terms of ingenuity and innovation.

2024 marks the first year of ADW and Jones plans for it to continue and evolve even further for the design industry and the community.

“Every year there’s going to be tweaks, every year it’s just going to get a little bit bigger and a little bit better and hopefully draw more of an international audience,” she adds.

“I think there’s a massive opportunity for it to support not just the design communities, but commerce in general and New Zealand and travel and tourism and hospitality.”

Though the name refers to the city Auckland, Jones is open to the idea of going into other design-rich cities like Wellington and Christchurch, and hopefully later down the line, turning it into a national event that celebrates the country’s design industry.

“There’s nothing to stop us from making ADW, Aotearoa Design Week.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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