As a youthful nation we are inclined to dismiss our Design heritage as being too recent to have a clear sense of direction or an established identity. This undervaluing of our NZ Design heritage has not been helped by the lack of comprehensive documentation. The timely publication of “New Zealand by Design” by Michael Smythe has played an important role in documenting our product culture while providing a critical context for understanding our Design and manufacturing heritage. As it is, we have much to celebrate: whether it is the opportunity to revisit our earliest and richest Design traditions – Māori design – in new contexts such as emergent digital fabrication and diversification of the Māori economy.

Or to build on more recent Design developments in manufacturing that are now part of our national and international Design heritage. This includes Peter Haythornthwaite’s legacy and his long association with the School of Design at VUW. In response Future Design Generation presents three diverse threads that demonstrate how Design is interwoven with industry and the VUW School of Design through its staff and students.These are just a few of the many different threads that combine to form the colourful and complex fabric that is our Design and manufacturing heritage.



Nowhere is the impact of the Kiwi OE tradition better exemplified than by Jo Sinel. In 1941 Dorothy Puccinelli wrote in ‘California Arts and Architecture’: "Joseph Sinel is really the Adam of his profession. When he arrived in this country, a young New Zealand artist with some experience in lettering and typography acquired in England, the world of American machinery and machine made products was a jungle, unexplored and untouched by the artist designer. Sinel observed a need, decided that here was a career waiting to be domesticated, named the career Industrial Design, mastered it and became its champion." That is no small contribution to an emerging field of research and knowledge.

This tradition continues today with an extensive Kiwi Design diaspora - often in leading positions - gaining experience and exerting influence internationally. The VUW School of Design is a proud contributor to, and recipient of, this tradition and includes faculty staff with significant experience in leading international Design consultancies: Simon Fraser (Porsche Design), Edgar Rodriguez (Studio Santachiara) and Ross Stevens (Philippe Starck).

Grundig TV. Porsche Design/Simon Fraser
Aurea Lamp. Studio Santachiara/FontanaArte/Edgar Rodriguez
Jim Nature TV/ZEO TV. Philippe Starck/Ross Stevens



Founded in 1934, Fisher & Paykel Ltd. has a long tradition of innovation in Engineering and Design that includes an array of world firsts. They championed Industrial Design in New Zealand by appointing Gifford Jackson as their first in-house Designer in 1945 and have subsequently become an inspirational model for nurturing emerging talent in Engineering, Design and Business practice by offering placements to graduates fresh from New Zealand’s Design schools and universities.

For many, including VUW alumnus Lauren Palmer - Chief Designer Cooking and Dishwashing, this was their first taste of industry, giving them an essential grounding in manufacturing practice and kick-starting their careers.

F&P combined induction/gas cooktop



Matt Holmes - VP/Creative Director of Innovation Footwear (Nike Inc. USA) and Andreas Harlow - VP/Footwear Creative Director (Nike Inc. USA) are two examples of Kiwi designers at the peak of their performance. Both maintain strong relationships with NZ; in our case through a long-standing association with Ross Stevens and the VUW Industrial Design programme, which led to our first international collaboration through the School’s Design-led Futures programme and the Hello Cybernetics project in 2007.

VUW alumnus Earl Stewart, following his Master’s thesis XYZ Customised Complexity, moved to London to join fellow Kiwi Tim Brown and his Three Over Seven team. Three Over Seven migrated to San Francisco, launched Allbirds in 2016 and joined forces with Jamie McLellan’s Auckland-based Industrial Design consultancy. Jamie is now Head of Design at Allbirds in San Francisco. Earl Stewart went on to impress Matt and Andreas with his Master’s project and is now realising his dreams in Design as a Footwear Designer with Nike.

VaporMax and VaporFly protoypes
XYZ shoe – 3D prints
Allbirds Wool/Tree Runners