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.

Jonathan Custance is an instrumental figure within the interior industry and various design communities since the early 80s. He has been an advocate of good commercial design and inspired creative thinking, stressing that it needn’t be accessible for just boutiques and corporate interiors.

He setup the Wellington Committee in 1985, and ran this for a number of years. During the same period, he was also a member of the NZ Society of Industrial Designers. He highlighted the importance of bringing different design groups together to create a single voice, a stronger voice, particularly into government and the wider public. The Society negotiated with the Interiors Association into joining together, and like that, the Designers Institute of New Zealand was incepted in 1991.

Jonathan’s colleagues recall discussions from an early DINZ event, which introduced the concept of the Internet, and how a search engine called Google worked. They thought that one day this may be a useful tool for designers. And how very right they were. 

He has always been dedicated to DINZ and used to really stretch his time during the early phases, ensuring that Wellington design had a voice and was represented in Auckland. Although sometimes pushing this a little too far – once surviving a crash on the icy desert road racing to an institute meeting.

During the 90’s, the “Best Student” awards began and Jonathan undertook the sponsorship for spatial students. Since then, some 25 years later, he has consistently sponsored the Best Students, and the associated prize money.

In 1995 he was awarded the “Stringer Award”, which we now know as the Purple Pin, and has also featured as a spatial judge.

Jonathan’s contribution to the industry and the institute has been significant, and in recognition, has been awarded the Designers Institute Black Pin for 2020.