The very best project in each discipline at the Best Design Awards is awarded the supreme, Purple Pin for work that truly raises the bar for New Zealand design.

Purple Pin 2022
Studio: Metalbird

Judge's comments

This is a cool little company or not so little company. It's a benchmark for small business expanding internationally from New Zealand.

It's a great example of design thinking, implementation, and incredible execution. There's something wonderful in the design, the inherent emotion and your native birds and in being able to then translate that to local birds and local manufacturers in whichever country they are operating in.

We know that statistics around startup failure are super high. They have used their industrial ‘design thinking’ heritage and worked everything through from the distribution design, product design, right on to the evolution of the business model. It's all designed to solve problems in new and innovative ways that are creating real commercial outcomes and driving a significant business that still manages to retain the craft and character of a much smaller craft business run out of a garage.


Design thinking has shaped Metalbird structurally and philosophically, from our origins as a recreational art project, to our present status as a successful global enterprise.

Our Challenge

Converting an individual art practice into a global enterprise can be unwieldy, leading to the question:
Can we take the principles of simplicity, scalability and quality behind the product, and apply them across the company, resulting in a single business with a unified vision?

Our Process

Design principles have informed the way we have structured and subsequently expanded the business at each level.
Our sales process is driven by seasonal gifting events and research data, ultimately informing product design and range plans per region. In a very real sense, data shapes design.
Simplicity remains paramount in product development. Our product has not changed significantly since its first iteration, a reflection of the pragmatic design, characteristic simplicity and high-quality materials.

Our Solution

Buying back and consolidating all ownership agreements and partnerships into a single entity with a unified vision: Metalbird Global.
Bringing all IP rich roles in-house to form a cohesive, supportive and democratic working culture.
We’ve committed to working with the best, ensuring an alignment of values and common goals to create a positive, non-hierarchical culture.
Making regional production a priority in operating countries, ensuring that all manufacturing takes place locally.
Ensuring all materials are recycled, sourced sustainably, and implementing measures to track our environmental impact.
Partnering with conservation organisations worldwide, ie, Birdlife International, allowing Metalbird to contribute financially & creatively to bird conservation globally.
We have established a presence across all social channels and trading platforms, leveraging the simplicity and universality of our product to maximise our audience across markets.
Partnering with local in-market agencies to authentically engage with each regional market using local vernacular.
Establishing the Metalbird Art Project, a global digital marketing effort that doubles as an online interactive map where users worldwide post their Metalbirds.

Our Results:

Metalbirds revenue grew by 3800% in a 3 year period.
In that same period, a conservative estimate places the number of birds sold at over 500k.
Awarded the NZTE International Business Award for Extraordinary Growth in Emerging Business.
Constructing an innovative online flow system that builds real value for customers before, during and post product purchase, with a Google review average of 4.95 out of 5.
We are one of Aotearoa’s largest digital advertisers in FY21
We have donated approximately 40k to Bird Conservation.
We are a localised global retailer across 10 countries.
We have established Metalbird as an emerging Wholesale Store Channel.
We have demonstrated long term commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices, and are in the final stages of B-Corp certification.
We own and operate a relentlessly simple retail, marketing and distribution platform devoted to bringing our sustainable Aotearoa based brand to a global market.

We look forward to the future.