When designer Michael Smythe was asked to teach Unitec’s new design management course, he discovered that actually, there wasn’t very much by way of solid information about New Zealand’s product design history. This goes some length in explaining why his new book isn’t shy of text.
Covering the history of New Zealand’s product and industrial design from early Maori carving to current innovations in medical appliances, he presents a wealth of information about the political, cultural, geographical and social influences on design. However, readers needn’t be daunted as we are given an average of two full colour photographs per spread, meaning this book finds the perfect balance between information and illustration.
Smythe covers not only how designers have shaped New Zealand but also how New Zealand has shaped design.
You’ll find out how Fisher & Paykel became a household name and led the way in standardising and simplifying whiteware. We witness the birth of a New Zealand aesthetic through our domestic design and see how our passion for doing things smarter has put our products on the world’s stage. Politics and economics have often hindered design, but Smythe explains how designers have played their part in economic recovery post-Rogernomics.
Design students and professionals will enjoy this entertaining, informative and surprising book, which is less a reference tome and more of a conversation starter. Smythe says the book isn’t the last word on the subject of New Zealand product design, but that said, I certainly have more to talk about now that I’ve read it.
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 Book - New Zealand By Design
Product design is what we make of ourselves. It shapes and shows who we are. It is the manufactured manifestation of our culture. NEW ZEALAND BY DESIGN richly illustrates the way product design has been formed by the isolation of the country most recently inhabited by 'tool making animals'. It will inform, entertain, intrigue and surprise readers interested in Kiwi heritage, creativity, culture, economics, politics, technology, industry and the deeply driven need for human beings to design better lives.
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Auckland 0627, New Zealand.