Designarc is an embryonic concept of potential benefit to all participants in the design process. Financial support from sources valuing its existence is required to make this happen. The Designarc proposal can be summarised as:


To accelerate the velocity of New Zealand’s design-driven growth.


Succeeding generations generating original, creative, innovative progress because they know the back story and recognise the leading edge of the continuum.


Succeeding generations generating original, creative, innovative progress because they know the back story and recognise the leading edge of the continuum.


A New Zealand Design Archive and Research Centre could evolve as:

  • a virtual archive – an electronic data base storing image and text files supporting an interactive website – identifying existing, and adding new, data and material;
  • existing physical archives – the virtual archive identifying artefacts held in existing public and private collections – creating a nation-wide network of collected examples;
  • a dedicated physical archive – either at an existing institution or created by a new organisation – could become a resource that supplies other museums when required;
  • a research facility – resources to identify, locate, interpret, document and store material according to best practice and make it accessible through many media.


Those who could contribute to, and benefit from, a New Zealand design archive are:

  • design practitioners – want their work recorded and recognised;
  • makers/marketers – want their output recognised and valued;
  • design historians – need to capture the fast disappearing stories and artefacts;
  • design educators – need access to relevant back-stories and case studies;
  • social historians /ethnologists – can interpret design stories through their lens;
  • curators /exhibitors – seek authoritative sources for collections and exhibitions;
  • researchers /writers /publishers – need a credible resource for data;
  • students – (of design, marketing, business, history, etc.) seek sound data;
  • sellers /collectors – want facts and stories to contextualise artefacts and add value;
  • central /regional government – value heritage and culture that enhances growth.


The smart approach is to cooperate in building the archive then compete in creating outputs, eg: books, exhibitions, documentaries, education modules, academic papers.


Michael Smythe, author of New Zealand by Design: a history of New Zealand product design (released from 15 July 2011) seeks support from foundation stakeholders to enable the initiation of this project.


  • Initiation phase – create a basic interactive website to build participation and engagement with issues raised in the New Zealand by Design book; create an appropriate entity, eg: charitable trust to provide governance.
  • Development phase – develop a robust data base back-end and a user-friendly front-end compatible with existing archives /museums /libraries in New Zealand and overseas; develop governance and operational structure; identify deliverables /performance criteria for each aspect of the operation; enrol wider stakeholder participation and build a sustainable funding base.
  • Implementation phase – launch developed ‘designarc’; promote ‘designarc’ nationally and internationally; continuously develop, improve and enrich.


  • Reference Group /Board – entity to oversee the project through the development phase followed by the appropriate governance body to suit the ongoing structure.
  • Director /editor /researcher /writer – to direct the project, enrol stakeholders, gather material and write content – a full-time contract role.
  • Archivist – to establish appropriate protocols, taxonomy and methodologies to ensure credibility, accessibility and compatibility – a part-time contract role.
  • Business administrator – to manage contractual and financial aspects of the operation – a part-time role.
  • Content manager – to facilitate day-to-day interactions and keep content up to date and fresh – a part-time contract role building to full-time.


  • Server – a large and robust server will be required to store visual and AV materials.
  • Office /storage – may be required as hard copy materials and artefacts accumulate.


Material that Michael Smythe has already accumulated that could form the basis of the designarc information and collection resource includes:

  • ‘designarc’ brand – trademark registered, logo designed.
  • Kiwi Nuggets brand – trademark registered, logo designed.


Jack Laird (Waimea Pottery /Temuka)Mark Cleverley (UEB, Crown Lynn), Chris Weaver (ceramics), Keith Mahy (Crown Crystal Glass), Rudi Schwarz (cube furniture, etc), Simon Fraser (Porche Design, etc), Michael Payne (Geyser Room, Expo 70), Adrian Sargeant & Phil Brace (Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer), Mark Pennington (Formway, etc), Laurie Davidson (Team New Zealand), David Trubridge, Grant Ryan (Yike Bike), Christopher Metcalfe (bol, etc) and Betty Schlesinger (95 year old widow of original Buzzy Bee designer /maker) – all camcorder interviews. A broadcast quality interview with Gifford Jackson was filmed with AUT resources.

Digital images

A growing collection of hi-res images sourced for publication in New Zealand by Design; images supplied for the Kiwi Nuggets series in ProDesign.

Hard copy

A 1936 issue of PM magazine with a 13 page interview with Jo Sinel, two copies of the only Captain Sunshine comic ever printed, a library of relevant books, a full set of Designscape magazines (some on loan), a full set of ProDesign and Idealog magazines, newspaper clippings accumulated over many years.


Crown Lynn Juliana pattern; Temuka pottery; Crown Crystal glass; ceramic, Speedy, Ultimate and Zip hot water jugs; Safa Thermette, Shacklock Conray heaters; Zip Therma-Glo and Therma-Panel heaters; Zip & Ralta toasters and frypans; Ralta fan; Ralta hair dryers; Ralta Crock Pots; PYE television sets; Lesco petrol cans and Pour-A-Cans … and more.

Gifford Jackson also has wonderful drawings and samples of items he designed – they will be looking for a home and he would not like to see them buried in the bowels of an existing institution never to be seen by the public.