Designarc is an initiative begun by Michael Smythe. His credentials for taking a lead role in developing this resource include:


  • 2004 Master of Design Management, UNITEC
  • 1967 Diploma of Industrial Design, Wellington Polytechnic School of Design


  • 1991 – Fellow, Designers Institute of New Zealand
  • 1979-91 Fellow, New Zealand Society of Industrial Designers
  • 1970-79 Member, New Zealand Society of Industrial Designers
  • 2004 Outstanding Achievement Award for ‘lasting and valuable contribution to the standard of New Zealand design’, DINZ Best Awards


Relevant Commissioned Research/Writing:

  • 2011 New Zealand by Design:a history of New Zealand product design – a book commissioned by Random House, released from 15 July 2011.
  • 2006 Tapapa Toi: the cultural seedbed – a Heritage, Culture, Arts and Creative Industries strategy (in partnership with Helen Schamroth) for Whangarei District
  • 2005 Iconic Hew Zealand Designs and New Zealand Design Leaders – brief summaries for use in the Icehouse Profit by Design education programme
  • 2005 The Creative Continuum: tracing the trajectory of New Zealand design – a seven chapter series for the Better by Design website
  • 2004 Enabling Environmentally Effective Product Design – a scoping study for the Ministry for the Environment


Relevant lectures, papers, workshops:

  • 2004 Modernist to Mod: New Zealand industrial design in the context of ‘me-too’ non-conformity in a protected economy with a proactive designscape – paper to The Seventies in New Zealand: A Decade of Change conference, at Te Papa
  • 2004 Design, Discovery and the Dissatisfaction Driver: digging beneath the tool-making animal – paper to the 4th International Conference on Design History & Design Issues, Guadalajara, Mexico
  • 2004 Designer Genes: distinguishing the ‘tool-making animal’ – lecture at the Auckland Museum Institute
  • 2004-08 Design History of Aotearoa NZ – 14 week paper delivered to 2nd year Bachelor of Product Design at Unitec
  • 1990-95 Co-developed and presented a sesqui-centennial lecture reflecting on New Zealand’s bi-cultural expression through art, craft and design: Creating the Collective Culture at seven different venues in New Zealand; Beyond Sheep in Red Socks at DIA meetings in Sydney and Melbourne


Relevant published writing for magazines:

Urbis Design Annual:

  • 2005 Taylor Made – interview with Richard Taylor, Weta Workshop
  • 2004 Peter Haythornthwaite design champion – interview based article


  • 2011 Last Rites – obituary for ProDesign / history of NZ design magazines
  • 2006-11 Kiwi Nugget series – 25 stories behind NZ designed artefacts
  • 2010 Learning from Lye – re recent Len Lye books
  • 2009 The Penny Drops – re the Yike Bike development in Christchurch
  • 2009 Post Impressions last – re the rise and fall of NZ postage stamp design
  • 2009 Coining a phase – re the design of New Zealand decimal coins c.1966
  • 2009 Rise and Fall – re the demise of Michael Draper Design and Eon Design Centre
  • 2009 Dave Clark – achiever – profile of a John Britten Award winner
  • 2008 Laurie Davidson – Team NZ designer and John Britten Award winner
  • 2007 Better by Design CEO Summit 07 – a summary and evaluation
  • 2007 Designers Focus on Sustainability – re DINZ conference
  • 2007 Design-based Business Builders – Sir Robertson Stewart / Sir Angus Tait obits
  • 2007 Design for the Bottom Line – re the Better by Design CEO Summit 07
  • 2006 Noel Tritton – obituary
  • 2005 A Stunning Career – interview with Mark Pennington, winner, John Britten Award
  • 2005 Frank Shacklock – obituary of an important Fisher and Paykel design engineer
  • 2004 James Coe – obituary incorporating some important New Zealand design history
  • 2003 Keverne Trevelyan – obituary re role with the NZ Industrial Design Council
  • 2002 Sensitive Reflections – obituary re Charles Marks’ work as an NZ designer
  • 2000 Win-shift to team – re Team New Zealand design process

NZ Home and Building:

  • 1989-91 Seven articles from reportage to opinion pieces


  • 1972-81 Ten articles from reportage to opinion pieces

Career Path

  • 1992 – CREATIONZ Consultants – partner with Helen Schamroth
  • 1988-91 Designers Secretariat (office of NZSID) – inaugural Executive Director
  • 1979-85 Designforces – co-director with Michael Penck and Murray Pilcher
  • 1973-78 Marks and Smythe Designers – co-director/designer with Charles Marks
  • 1969-73 Environmental Research / JASMaD Design – senior designer
  • 1967-69 Fisher & Paykel – industrial design graduate with the Development Division
  • 1963 National Publicity Studios – junior artist