The Black Pin for Outstanding Achievement recognises a someone who has made a lasting and valuable contribution to the design profession.
Calling Mark Cleverley’s contribution to New Zealand design ‘lasting’ is almost an understatement. From graphic design, to object making, pottery design, textiles, teaching, and architecture, there’s hardly a type of design that Mark hasn’t touched over his six decade legacy.
To describe the extent of Mark’s multi-faceted career in full would take hours. But in brief, Mark started his illustrious career at age 18 in Hamilton as an architectural draughtsman at the NZ Co-operative Dairy, then moved to Christchurch to work at Warren and Mahoney. He won a scholarship to the Elam School of Fine Arts, and was one of the first students in the new graphic design programme. From there, he freelanced in graphic design – and even designed the Ballantyne’s façade and engravings. He ventured to the big smoke for a brief stint in advertising, then dived into the 3D world of packaging.
During this time, he made his first foray into stamp design. And he certainly stamped his mark. He introduced modernist, simplified designs to New Zealand Post – a move that proved incredibly popular.
Arguably, his most prominent work was as a creative director at Crown Lynn. He was always one step ahead of worldwide trends, creating new designs and printing techniques, taking reference from indigenous patterns, fighting traditional ideas. But his most influential role was teaching in Christchurch and Wellington – his students rave about his passion for typography and design history, his clever and challenging briefs, and above all his engagement and enthusiasm in their own projects.
Mark has been an important player in the international design industry. In 1972, he was made a full member of the prestigious UK based Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (SIAD), and was also nominated as the NZ representative at the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) Interdesign conference in Canada in 1974.
During the sixties and seventies, he was involved in founding professional design organisations – the ancestors of the Designer’s Institute – to create a supportive network to promote and connect designers around New Zealand. He even helped establish an early version of the Best Design Awards.