The Designers Institute runs many initiatives throughout the year to celebrate the achievements of the design community. 

The Best Design Awards

The Best Design Awards are Australasia’s largest annual showcase of excellence across graphic, digital, motion design, product and spatial along with the Value of Design Award, Public Good Award and the Toitanga award recognise the changing nature of our design industry. Year on year, the event grows in both its size and its impact.

View all of the 2019 winners on the Best Awards site.

Black Pin Recipients

Each year, the prestigious Black Pins are awarded to individuals for outstanding achievement within the design community. In 2019 DINZ introduced the Value of Design Black Pin.

The John Britten Black Pin is awarded to a designer for their leadership, vision and achievement both in New Zealand and internationally.

The Designers Institute Black Pin is awarded to a member of the Institute who has made a lasting and valuable contribution to the design profession and design culture in New Zealand.

Annie Dow

The Designers Institute Black Pin for Outstanding Achievement is given to the individual who has made a lasting contribution to the design profession and to design in general.

Q+A: Mike Barrett talks to Annie Dow PDINZ, director of Dow Goodfolk

Hi Annie, shall we take a quick blast through the past before we get around to your thoughts about the present and future? You’re originally from the UK, aren’t you?

Yes, that’s right. Let’s just say my father was a big influence in my life. The family immigrated to New Zealand. My father brought engineering, display sign & neon sign skills to the country.  He set up his own business, in signs and displays, prominently known back in the 70’s,80’s  and still know today as  The Display Group. Whilst my father was a big influence to me, he was also a very traditional, old school thinking Englishman. In his mind, my brothers who were in the business as myself , were going to be the ones that were left the assest. One day I proposed that I’d like a slice of the action as well. He wouldn’t have a bar of it. As much as I loved him, that was an archaic & unjust mentality. I certainly wasn’t hanging around as second fiddle, so I bailed for the classic o/s trip.

Sounds like an early crack at smashing the patriarchy. What happened next?

I hightailed it back to the UK, and then started to freelance at legendary studios like Pentagram. I worked at Billy Blue in Sydney on the journey over. I really started to gather experience and a love of a 3D, working with my father and other design studios, specialising in this discipline. The experience of designing display stands and rendering visuals for cosmetic companies, designing packaged consumer goods and making mock ups, I started to feel very at home. I have never rated myself as a strong designer, but I’ve always had the vision of what something should look like, how it should fit into it’s world it will live in. Someone once told me, I had the art of a distinct intuition & a great mind, mixing logic & the design magic – an understanding of commercial reality in branding. Packaging suddenly became my new love in London.

What appealed to you about it?

I loved that you had a small space to work with, like a mini poster, that’s a silent sales tool. That’s where my commercial brain kicked in. I came back to New Zealand, as my father was turning 70 – the main motivation to return home. I am not sure I intended to stay here. However other things were in store for me. Within a week of being here, I met the late Greg Dow and my heart & life took a big turn.  

Greg had been in the advertising world and we certainly had a great deal in common. I mentioned to him once, how no many design companies were focused on FMCG in NZ and it was a true speciality in the UK & Europe.  It’s a love I’ve kind of adopted from the UK. Greg loved any challenge and so seeing the gap I had identified, Dow Design was born. We both had different skills to bring to the business partnership, never once questioning working & living together.

And what were they like those early days? We must be in the early’90s, right?

Greg and I were very competitive together. For us it was the chase of building great business relationships. I did design in the early days but as we got a reputation and busier, I quickly got off the tools and we hired designers, way more talented than me. We became well known for as packaging designers and word quickly spread. We had the lion’s share of the big accounts. Heinz Watties, Tegel, NZ Dairy Foods, (formerly Fonterra) Cerebos Greggs, Hellers & DB… name a few. This was the halcyon days in the design & advertising world. Things were buzzing, marketing teams were large and we continued to add further skills & processes to our business offer.

When did Greg pass away?

Greg passed away in 2007. At that time, we were in the middle of due diligence to sell to an American company. It promised to be a great deal – had Greg not died, I would be telling a different story today.

Greg was a property investor on the side, but this had became his passion. He liked to renovate old villas, so I imagine with a business sale and renovating houses, it would all look different. However the sale got taken off the table for a year and then the GFC hit. When the deal came back it looked very different and by then I had decided then I still had a passion for the business and walked away from the sale. For me, it was about having a purpose. And here I am today. I created Brother Design, a secondary arm, as we won the Foodstuffs Pam’s account. Brother continues today and have built their own reputation, as my sister business. I acquired Goodfolk, as a digital arm and rebranded to Dow Goodfolk.

Would you describe yourself as reasonably nimble then, with an ability to change focus quickly and take opportunities where you perceive them?

We are very nimble, through adversity and many challenges thrown at me, I have learnt to embrace change.. Greg in the office, right in front of me, that is something that you never get over, but you learn to live through. I’ve had to learn very quickly to reset, restructure & reposition many times in life. I believe one thing that stands our business in good stead is we have a very acute balance of commerce and design.

To rewind a little – you said that you’re not the world’s best designer, but the understanding of what design is has broadened out. Design is also assembling teams, putting the right people together.

That’s the thing for me. I know my capabilities. I think I have learnt to be an incredible negotiator. I also think that in this game you have to have a hell of a lot of integrity in the New Zealand design market. I think you have to act with good faith. Obviously, you have to deliver great design, but I think you have to value yourself. What I have found is that as an industry, we undervalue what we do. That delivery of value, I think, is really important, and I’ve seen the design industry commoditise itself to it’s detriment.

What do you mean by that?

There are healthy budgets in the rest of the world and I know often due to the size of the country. But my firm belief is we have not helped ourselves in the NZ design scene, by not placing true value on what we create for the NZ business economy.

What else is important, as you reflect Annie?

Reputation to me is very important. Integrity is very important. Delivering design excellence is very important. Being specialised is very important. As I reach another milestone in age next year, I am extremely proud of what I have contributed to the NZ design landscape. I am not ready to hang up the hat just yet, as I thoroughly enjoy what we create and how we build strong NZ brands & businesses. It’s a big buzz.

It’s interesting that you’ve seen the highest of the highs and the…

Lowest of the lows, I know. It’s really interesting. I still believe that every single project you approach it is critical to get the creative absolutely right for that brand. I don’t like it when creative is dumbed down, it frustrates me and so I always try to have that value conversation with clients about, “Don’t think short term, think long term. Get it right so that it contributes to building your asset.” So many businesses spend so much money setting up production and logistics, their distribution chains, even their franchise models or whatever game they are in – and then they look at creating brand last. Yet brand is the glue that holds it all together.

Why do you think that is? Surely, we’ve become more intelligent as time goes on, more familiar with the processes required to take a product to market? 

I’ve thought about this a lot. Design has become a very common conversation for so many people, and there are many quick shortcuts to creating brands all at your fingertips via Uncle Google. People often only see the tip of the iceberg. They don’t see the strategic foundations well laid beneath. I continually educate people, talking about getting the brand-heart right. Writing the strategy at the very beginning is the most important piece of work.

We talk about what makes a good designer, but what then do you think makes a good client?

A good client is open and can listen. I do feel design is all about people, and the design output is only often as good as the person that’s guiding it. They can be anxious of the process, anxious of the money they’re going to spend. They might start out the process by going, “But what if I don’t like it?” Well, this is why we have aprocess. Remove all subjectivity and it’s very objective, very measured.

I do like to have partnerships that truly understand brand. If I look back at the history of the partnerships we’ve had, they are enduring and many for at least 15-20 years.

I was just thinking about Pam’s actually, in these days of click and collect shopping. It’s interesting with a brand like Pam’s and the journey it’s gone on. It’s changed so much since the early days of the budget brand.

In the last decade Pam’s has grown immensely and is a loved NZ brand. It’s a really big part of the Foodie’s business. A smart team, when you work with retailers, you learn an awful lot about trading. As a team we have honed our skills even more through these relationships. Its a great point of difference.

Before Covid, I would have asked you for your thoughts on the future, or ambitions, but it is of course more unwritten than normal.

It’s really unwritten. We are all asking ourselves the same thing. Live in the now, learn from this experience and become more thoughtful about our approach in business now.

I will forever love and relish the opportunity to build our design community, to build Kiwi exporters that have an authentic brand presence on the global stage.

Clive Fugill

The Designers Institute John Britten Black Pin is awarded to a designer for their leadership, vision and achievement both in New Zealand and internationally.

Q+A: Mike Barrett talks to Clive Fugill

Kia ora Clive, great to see you here at Te Puia. Shall we start at the beginning? What was your childhood like – any carvers in the family? 

No. My family background were all bushmen. They worked in the forest. The whole family. They were contractors.

And was that here, in Rotorua?

Yes, around this area. They worked blocks of bush over the back road to Tauranga, through Mangorewa Gorge. Blocks of bush out the back of Ngongotahā. My father worked in the old National Timber Company workings back in the ’20s and ’30s. Mostly around this area, although later on they did pull bush out of Minginui and up through there. When I was very young, they’d bring firewood home and it was all native stuff, so I learnt native timber pretty quickly and what types of wood were what.

I guess times have changed, regarding what’s firewood these days.

Well, the company dissolved a bit because they didn’t want to go into pine. They were all about native timber. As soon as the pine came in, my father saw it. He tried to convince my grandfather to go into it, but nobody wanted to, so the company just folded. I learnt a lot from my father. Heck of a lot of stuff from him because he virtually lived in the bush. There’s nothing he didn’t know about it. He knew all the trees. He knew Māori rongoā, the medicines. I got a lot of his practical knowledge, but I spent time in the woodshed with a pocketknife. That’s how I learnt. 

Really? Had you been exposed to any carving or seen something that got you going?

Sort of, yes. My first inklings of it were when I was at primary school; they used to bring exhibitions around from the museums. I’d see artefacts, patu and things like that. For some reason, I had a fascination with weaponry. Māori weaponry fascinated me. They had slideshows with all these weapons, and I started drawing them and trying to carve the shapes and forms with a pocketknife. I was very good at art at school, if there was an art prize around, I’d get it.

Other than that, what were you like academically? 

I was dumb as a two-bob watch, but there was reason for that. When I was at intermediate school, I started getting these headaches. I’d go home from school and lie down and after a couple of hours it was gone. Father took me to the doctor, Dr More was his name, one of the old school doctors, and he checked me out. “What’s wrong with this boy? he said. “I wonder. Come here boy. Read that.” I couldn’t read any of it. He said, “There’s his problem. Get him glasses.” I’ll never forget the day I walked out that door with glasses on. I could see for miles. Then my schoolwork picked up.

So, your art was eventually applied to different materials, through carving? 

I did a little bit of everything because when I was at primary school one of our teachers, Mrs Leach, she was a Māori teacher, too, had a kiln and did pottery. She said, I know where you’re coming from, but you have to know this other stuff. I know where your career’s going, you’ll be doing something in the art field.

Hon. Minister Peeni Henare 

When did you start to acquire carving knowledge?

When I was at intermediate school, about 1962. My parents got me some books on Māori carving and some carving tools. I read the books. One thing I did concentrate on when I was at school was reading, one of the teachers said if you can read the whole world will open up in front of you – now I do a lot of reading, heaps. 

What do you read?

Anything and everything. I’ve got a huge collection of Māori books at home that I’ve collected over the years, and other material as well. I’m just sorting it all out because I’m trying to do an archive here at Te Puia. Anyway, I got onto carving and away I went. It was quite common to see me carrying a tōtara fence post up from the paddock over the back. I’d cut it up and make bits and pieces out of it.

What were your first carving tools?

The first set I got was a set of little tools. They were Miller Falls, America. A set of six. Then my mother gave me a set of flat chisels. I’ve still got those. Then I started getting pocket money because I used to do souvenir pieces for Paradise Valley’s souvenir shop. I’d make these things and they’d come around and buy them all. I had a healthy bank balance, mate. It was better than Dad’s. 

It sounds like you were quite the young entrepreneur.

I wondered what I was going to school for. In about 1964 we shifted house and my neighbour, Dave Winterburn, who was from Ngāti Raukawa and carved down at the Buried Village, was talking to dad over the fence one day. He heard this tap, tap, bang, bang, bang going on in the shed and Dad says it’s the young fella doing some carving. “What sort of carving? Māori carving. This I’ve got to see.” He hopped over the fence and came and had a look. “It’s not bad. I think you want a bit of help mate,” he said. “Meet me down at my kitchen Saturday morning, seven o’clock and I’ll take you out to the Buried Village.”

That was your first supervised go at it?

Yeah, he used to take me out there. I learnt a lot about the business side of things. I started working there. Then at Rotorua Boys High School, which I went to, the stage was all carved and there was an early carving in the front entrance that went right back to the first carving school that was here in the 1930s. John Taiapa’s brother, Pine Taiapa went to that school, and they were reviving tribal styles of carving. John and his off-sider, Jim Ruru, carved the whole front of the stage. I used to sit in there and stare at that carving and I’d think, yeah boy, that’s what I want to do.

 I’ve seen a photo of it – it’s an impressive piece.

Yes. There was another episode in my life, too. I was about nine and we were camping in Dargaville. It was raining cats and dogs. We put the tent up and it was quite miserable. Dad was reading the local rag and it had a story about a private museum. We got in the car and found the place. It was an old homestead this guy had. He’d kicked the two bedrooms out and made it into one room and that was his museum.

What was in it?

Well, you knew you were onto something because as soon as you pulled up there was a small waka on the front lawn and one of those waka kererū, pigeon troughs. So, in we go, and he had a mean collection, one of everything, all the different cloaks, adzes…a huge collection of kauri gum, Māori books. He came out and showed us all these things. He was in his 60s then, this old fella. There were two cabinets in the front of the room, one had tiki, the other had two greenstone mere and a stone patu. He pulled that out and let me have a look at it. I held it in my hand and just, whoa. It had a little chip out of the top of the blade but this thing was so perfect. It was almost jet black. It was unreal.

Dad said this young fella, he’s into carving and stuff, so the old fella took us out to his workshop. He did Māori carving and had these filing cabinets with the finest of English carving tools. He put a piece of wood in a vice, drew out all the patterns, carved them and named them. When he finished, he said, “Here, you can have that.” I’ve still got that.

You mentioned John Taiapa before – a well-known carver – how did you meet him and what influence did he have on your career?

Well, going back to old Dave Winterburn. One day there were all these carved barge boards for a meeting house in Dave’s basement. John Taiapa and his offsider were working on them for the Hangarau meeting house over home, one of ours, in my tribal area. That’s when I first met John. I knew then I wanted to be under this guy. He was the gun.

And that was when you applied to the carving school at Whakarewarewa?

Yes, my first year was 1967. In ’65 it had started because of the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Act 1963, which we sit under, they had to have somewhere to administrate it. The government said we’re not funding it; you can fund yourselves. And right up to today, we’ve done that through tourism. That’s what’s kept the project going all these years. When I came here in ’66 there was nothing but the old Ngongataha Post Office. That was the first admin building. By the end of ’66, they’d built the admin block and that was the first carving school.

What was it like turning up to school on the first day? 

It was good. I was 17 when I came up here to get my application form for the school. Anyway, I applied, and they rejected it, saying you’re not Māori. Dad said, “Oh yeah, is that right? Here’s his iwi, here’s his hapū, here’s his all the rest of it.” They still didn’t believe it, So, they sent somebody from Māori Affairs around to interview me. I showed him all my drawings and carvings and things. I explained what they mean, and he said, “You know more about it than I do, boy.” Highly recommended. That went in, and they still bucked it. Dad knew some of the guys on the board too, so he went in and said, “Okay board, just look at this.”

This family photo?

Yes, he took that in, and he said, “Righto, you’re questioning my Māori background. Here’s the go. The little girl there, that’s my older sister. This is my mother, his grandmother. That’s his great grandmother, his great, great grandmother and that’s his great, great, great grandmother. That’s the oldest child in each generation spanning five generations. Now, having seen that, have you got one in your fella’s family to better it?” Well, of course the answer was no. I got an acceptance letter from the Institute on Christmas Eve 1966. So, I ended up here under John Taiapa and Tuti Tukaokao. He was 2IC and from my own iwi too, a distant relative.

How many students were there at that stage?

There were seven.

When you first started was everyone of comparable skill? Were you all starting from the same place?

I think everybody was sort of…I struggled a little bit because they half-pie picked on me at the time. Didn’t realise my tribe was Ngāti Ranginui. We know how to dig in. We taught them that. Taught the colonial troops that lesson at Gate Pā. Because all these guys were at a hostel, they were having a royal time. There was wine, women and song, and parties and everything. I stayed at home and did the study.  

Was it all carving?  

When you do a diploma, you do a whole lot of other things, including tukutuku work, kōwhaiwhai painting. We’d all gone through all of that. When we graduated in 1969, they announced a special award, an honours award for the top student. Anyway, I’m sitting there thinking well you’re not going to get that mate. Next minute they call my name out. It took me a while to digest. Then there was a bit of controversy, a lot of people questioned it. John said, “Hang on a minute. First and foremost, he’s not Pākehā. He’s Māori just like you. And, the other thing is the guy worked for it.

So, it sounds like discrimination was a recurring theme? You sound quite driven, through.

I was. It was what I wanted to do. I’d made my mind up, that was all. It was a passion. So, these young ones we’ve got now, I would say to them look for a passion. If you’ve got a passion in there, you’re going to go way ahead. We’ve got one boy in here now, he’s here every day on time, every time. You can set your clock on him. He’s just passionate about what he’s doing.

After you graduated, what did you do?

I stayed on because I had the opportunity to work under John. The first thing was long weapons. He says, “You haven’t made those. Go and cut all this timber out.” It’s the rātā. “Go bring it all up here.” Took all that up. He says, “And, you’re going to make a set too. I’ll show you how the old fella Iramea taught me.” I learnt a lot from him. I started to go in and pester him each day for information. Now those are the only records, my notebooks and other stuff there.

Did your notes inform the book you wrote, Te Toki me te Whao – The Story and Use of Māori Tools?

Yes. I always thought about writing books but because I wasn’t an academic success at school, I didn’t want the book to be an academic nightmare. I wanted something that everybody could use, from primary school to university, and be easily understood. Like my brother, he doesn’t know anything about this at all. He got the book, read it and said he understood every single thing. I’m on a second book now, on carving.

How’s that going?

It’s a bit more difficult. You’ve got to be careful not to regurgitate everything else that’s been done. There’s that much written on carving but the biggest problem is that the authors aren’t carvers, they’re academics. They’ve probably never picked up a chisel in their lives. I’m coming from the hands-on perspective of a carver – and ironing out a lot of the boo boos they’ve come up with that don’t make sense.

What sort of reference material do you have?

I’ve got a huge collection of books. I didn’t have to go anywhere. I just go up to the room, pull the books out I needed. I’ve got a huge collection of artefacts like adzes that I’ve collected over the years. If want anything get the thing, draw it all out.

Celebrating with Clive Fugill the NZ Māori Arts & Crafts Institute (NZMACI), Andrew Baker and Anzac Tasker.

Sounds like you might need to knock out a wall at home and create a little museum. So, what do you reckon, having seen people coming in and out of here; do you notice generational shifts or is it mostly a constant?

It was a little bit different in my time. The guys you’re getting in here now, a lot of them have been brought up with a Te Reo and tribal history background. Some of them are quite knowledgeable. Some have been carving before. Some have never carved, and you get to know them and get to know which areas to concentrate on. A good teacher, John told me that, is one that will identify the good carvers, the ones that are not so good, and the ones that are struggling. The good carvers that pick it up quite quickly – set them the work, let them go. The next group will also come up to that standard with a minimal amount of input. All your time will be spent at the lower end. Your job is to bring that group up so the whole cohort travels together. That’s why at the end just about everybody will be at the same level when they’re graduating.

John was a perfectionist in everything he did. He’s the only person who could build a tribal meeting house from the concrete foundations to the last stick of carving in it. He could do every single part of that house because he had his tickets in building. People would say he was as good at building as he was at carving. He was exceptional. His brother was the mouthpiece. He knew all the history. He was a great orator and a great carver. A very, very good carver. He must have worked on over 105 houses in his time.

Have you done many houses?

I’ve worked on well over a dozen, I suppose. Supervised about six in carving them.

What do you like to do the most? When you’re carving do you have a preference for a particular type of thing?

I used to love the big stuff but then your hands pack up. You have trouble in the wrists and stuff. That’s why I concentrate on the smaller work now. I do a lot of the finer stuff.

Do you think you’ve gotten better as a teacher, as time has gone on?

I’ve learnt a lot about teaching. You learn how to fix things. Guys come to you with a mistake and they don’t know how to fix it. They get upset. But you know, the guy that makes all the mistakes will learn everything. The guy that doesn’t make the mistake will learn nothing. I’ll just say, “You’re making mistakes, so you’ll learn. When your turn comes to teach, you’ll probably know six ways of getting out of the problem.”  I have another bit of advice too. I remember the old fella saying this. “Do a good job it’s your meal ticket to the next one, and don’t forget that.” That applies to anything. Do a good job, do your best.

What do your graduates do, when they graduate?

We keep some on site but normally they all go back to their own areas. They may do other jobs. They might do related work. A lot of our guys have gone tattooing. We’ve got four schools on site here. One is up north, it’s a waka school. We’ve got the weaving. We’ve got Te Takapū, which does greenstone, under Stacy Gordine. We’ve got the carving school, and we’ve also got a bronze foundry here. A lot of these young fellas in here, some of them are just like sponges.

Just out of interest, when did you learn Te Reo Māori, Clive?

When I was in high school. They all thought I was mad. Even the old headmaster. “Te Reo Māori.” He said, “Why do you want to take that?” Dad was like, “He wants to take that language for a reason. He’s interested in Māori wood carving and he’s interested in all things Māori.”

Mr & Mrs Fugill

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

The Value of Design Black Pin reflects a multi-million dollar investment in design of all kinds, in all sorts of organisations.

The effects driven by that investment are truly good for New Zealand. 

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare received the inaugural Value of Design Black Pin.

Value of Design Black Pin - Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

Fifty years ago, in the early days of design training in New Zealand, a concerned and motivated doctor and engineer, from the former Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, approached Fisher & Paykel for help solving a problem with dry respiratory gases being used on patients.They collaborated to add humidity to mechanical ventilation using a preserving jar and some piping – a quintessential piece of number-eight wire innovation. From that clever piece of thinking we can fast forward through five decades of increasingly sophisticated product development, the result of which is a company that has become New Zealand’s largest hi-tech exporter. A company that has consistently championed design processes resulting in sustainable commercial growth.

Throughout all those years of change, there have been two constants that drive Fisher & Paykel’s people still: putting the patient at the centre of everything – to spark new thinking and, consequently, innovation; and two, placing designers close to the patient – which results in empathetic thinking and meaningful solutions.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare should take pride in its work; last year the company’s products helped 14 million people, in hospitals and at home, giving patients not just an improved quality of life but often life itself. One of the company’s areas of expertise is the treatment of sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It’s a condition that tests Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s ability to innovate to the full, because, for starters, because no one wants to wear a mask and pump in bed, and secondly, making it stay on comfortably when the physics of breathing wants to push it off is the trickiest of design paradoxes. However, the company’s success in this area can be seen in its potent growth, with a billion dollars in sales cracked last year.

Mike Barrett discusses Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s Value of Design Black Pin with Chris Nightingale, general manager of the company’s OSA sector

Chris, congratulations to you and your colleagues on winning this award. Shall we have a quick recap on the genesis of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare for those perhaps familiar with the fridges, ovens and washing machines, but less familiar with the hospital, homecare and surgical products?

Thank-you. We are honoured and privileged to be acknowledged with this award. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare became a listed company, separate from Fisher & Paykel Appliances, back in 2001. We’ve been two entirely distinct companies since then, and we don’t share design resources.

That said, we do have many decades of shared history, including the utilisation of some F&P Appliances motor technology which helped establish some of our earlier products. What we also have in common are company founders who had a relentless commitment to solving problems in the appliances business, and they applied that knowledge to improving outcomes for patients.

We still both have a culture of original thinking and immersive experiences which leads to the innovative solutions required to create better products, processes and practices.

Here's a general question – if you could name a couple of factors at FPH that have contributed to innovation through design what do you think they would be?

I would say, a fundamental belief of doing what is best for our patients and collaboration – using a multi-disciplined diverse team approach, while evolving and validating our ideas with our end users. That combined with having an underdog mentality, where we are driven to deliver innovative products that address a real need and ultimately changes clinical practice.

You’ve been designing successful products and services consistently across decades, but what are the challenges of today?

There are always new challenges and we are never complacent about being competitive. Being in such a heavily regulated industry brings its own challenges, however, ultimately the aim is to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient care and outcomes by minimising the burden on the healthcare system. Our continuum of care aims to reduce the intensity of care in the hospital, such as from intensive care units to the hospital ward, and ultimately to provide treatment in the home where the patient can remain independent in a more comfortable setting. This places less burden and cost on the healthcare system, whilst still providing optimum treatment to the patient. To do this we need to develop and evolve therapies and ultimately change clinical practice, and this is without doubt the biggest challenge we face.

We live in an age of data now – has that changed the skills and processes required to effect and sustain good medical product design?

Not only does data confirm efficacy of care but it also enables efficiency of care. Integrating sensors in devices helps to optimise the delivery of therapy, by measuring numerous variables and responding with custom algorithms. Also, those sensors in combination with Bluetooth and IoT connectivity can provide detailed, anonymised and aggregated data. With access to that data we can provide actionable insights which help to focus on patients need, leading to better outcomes. This has become a core skill requirement within our business, and we have numerous roles and teams that focus on sensor design, data reporting and analytics. The old adage that “if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it” still rings true, and we are fortunate that in this day and age it is further enabled by the plethora of technology available.

Your patient-centric design approach has been described as a key to success. Can you provide any examples of the ways you bring designers and patients together? Is it field work, clinics, workshops, what does it look like in real terms?

Each multi-disciplined team within the business is focused on a particular therapy and patient demographic to ensure a deeper understanding of the environment in which our product is used, along with the individual needs of that patient and therapy. Be that an intensive care unit for our hospital products, or a patient’s home or sleep lab for our homecare products. It is through observation our teams gather the most valuable insights on problem solving and this is where they develop true empathy for the patient.

We have dedicated clinical and marketing teams to help coordinate and conduct development clinical user trials and provide market and customer insight to help develop and evaluate our products.  We are fortunate to have a dedicated and empathetic team that works with numerous patient demographics, customers, labs, hospitals and physicians around the world. We also have great facilities on site with our own sleep-lab, collaboration spaces and usability rooms that mimic the home environment or hospital ward.

Is there anything you can tell me about the ways your product and design teams work that readers might find interesting or surprising? 

One of the most impressive things as a product designer at F&P Healthcare, besides working with the many talented people we have, is the tools and processes that we have access to. In very few places in the world would a graduate or new addition to a design team be able to sketch up a concept, model it in CAD, design an injection-mould tool, write the CNC code for it, machine it and injection-mould those prototype components and test them. Often all within the same week, or even the same day in some cases.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a state-of-of-the-art CNC mill, a 3D printer, sewing machine or a hot glue gun. We have the tools, equipment, skills and enthusiasm to conceive an idea, make it and test it. All with the aim of creating products that help solve problems for our customers and patients. I can’t think of a more enjoyable environment to be a product designer.

F&P Healthcare is New Zealand's largest high-tech exporter – 50 years, one billion dollars in sales and 14 million patients helped in the last year alone. They are impressive stats, but in terms of scale, how do they stack up globally?

We’re certainly humbled and very proud of our success over the last 50 years. In terms of our hospital and homecare product groups, we are among the top companies globally in our segment, although we’re competing against some very large and well established international companies that are many times our size. That said, we continue to grow at an enviable rate, and our aims is to double in revenue every five to six years. The global opportunity for our therapies is massive, so we still believe we have a lot of room for growth.

You’re a global company, is your design workforce similarly global?

About half of our employees are based in New Zealand and the other half are working in more than 30 countries. Our R&D and product design functions are based exclusively in New Zealand, where we have world-class healthcare, efficient and effective processes for conducting clinical trials, and strong links with industry and universities for recruiting talented staff.

Although our product designers are generally New Zealand raised and trained, we are also fortunate that we can attract and retain international talent from around the globe because of what we do and of course where we live. We are a global company and the diversity and quality of our staff reflects that. Our design team is no exception.

On a personal level, what is it about the culture F&P Healthcare that gives you the most satisfaction? 

We’re a successful international company with a small company mentality and we’re dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives through the products we make and the service we provide. If something needs doing, or an issue needs resolving, we all just get stuck-in to achieve it while working to an incredibly high standard. I’m proud to consider Fisher & Paykel Healthcare as an excellent example of what can be achieved with great people and outstanding ideas. It just goes to show that a small company, which was started in our small corner of the globe, can mix it on the world stage with the best of industry. We have been successful but have never lost our continual drive to improve and innovate.

This Black Pin is for the value of design – can you actually quantify that value, or is it to an extent intangible?

It is absolutely tangible and quantifiable. The marriage of form and function with real benefits and outcomes has helped establish us as the company we are today. Although the economics of cost and market opportunity are still important aspects of a successful business, it is through design that we innovate to solve problems, provide value to our customers and patients, and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

All Recipients

Designers Institute Black Pin John Britten Black Pin Value of Design Black Pin

Annie Dow

Clive Fugill

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare


Rik Campbell and Steve Le Marquand


Kent Sneddon

Dan Bernasconi


Ben Corban

Danny Coster


Professor Tony Parker

Kris Sowersby


Mark Cleverley

Matt Holmes


Cathy Veninga

Grenville Main

Kent Parker


Sven Baker

Ian Athfield


Fraser Gardyne

Mark Elmore


Tim Hooson

Dean Poole


Dave Clark

Joseph Churchward


Professor Leong Yap

Laurie Davidson


Brian Richards

David Trubridge


Grant Alexander

Gary Paykel


Hugh Mullane & Craig Horrocks

Mark Pennington


Michael Smythe

Richard Taylor


Ray Labone

Peter Haythornthwaite FDINZ


Doug Heath

Ann Robinson


Robin Beckett

Humphrey Ikin


David Bartlett

Bruce Farr


John Hughes

Karen Walker


Not awarded

Gifford Jackson


Max Hailstone

James Coe


John Britten

Purple Pin Case Studies

The Best Design Awards is the annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product and interactive design. The entries judged Best in each category are awarded the Gold Pin. The very best project in each discipline is awarded the supreme, Purple Pin for work that truly raises the bar for New Zealand design.


To The Floor - The Lifeforce - ENTRIES OPEN

To The Floor is a design competition brought to you by Milliken-Ontera to create a design that is to be translated for commercial environments.

The winning design will receive royalties of 3% on global sales from Milliken-Ontera.

The design theme for this competition is inspired by the circular flow of our living systems. When these are in harmony, human life prospers through an amplifying, reciprocating lifeforce. Creating a rhythm between all living things and the objects we cherish, each adapting with the energy that comes with being connected, useful and purposeful throughout many life cycles. Restoring and regenerating with each flow.

Enter Competition Here 

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The Student Council run several initiatives including Interviews, Folio Nights and Best of the Best Students Speak. 

Learn more about the Council