The John Britten Black Pin is awarded to a designer for their leadership, vision and achievement in putting New Zealand on the global stage.

Jamie McLellan - Photographer Alistair Guthrie

In 2022 the John Britten Black Pin was given to Jamie McLellan PDINZ

Starting with a quote from Tim Brown, Allbirds CEO and founder.

“Allbirds wouldn't have been possible without Jamie McLellan, who is our 2022 John Britten Black Pin Award Winner. 

Jamie’s extraordinary design talents are a big part of Allbirds success for sure, but for me, it is his genuine kindness, his humour, his desire to bring other people into projects and put their needs ahead of his own, his dedication, his grace and, perhaps most importantly in the case of Allbirds, his resilience to keep on going when success was far from certain. Jamie's story is a humble one by his own telling but make no mistake this is a world-class practitioner of design and someone I am very proud to have as my friend and colleague, and to see so wonderfully and deservedly recognised with this award.”

High praise and deservedly so Jamie.

Tim highlights Jamie’s humanity, empathy and resilience which fuel Jamie’s design ability and have facilitated friendships with an impressive number of his colleagues, clients and eminent employers. 

Starting at Fisher & Paykel followed by a stint in the UK, Jamie’s portfolio is now full of award-winning quality products. The Candelabra lamp was produced during his tenure at Tom Dixon in London. A bike frame for Avanti, furniture pieces for Resident, beer taps, sails for Neil Pryde in Hong Kong, meal trays for international airlines, a biodegradable coffin and an impossibly expensive concept for a chair made from an aerogel material invented by Nasa.

From humble beginnings in New Zealand Jamie’s design collaboration with Allbirds founder Tim Brown led to the development of the woollen shoe that set the company on its phenomenal path to international success and acclaim. Now as Head of Design based in San Francisco, he is leading a team of talented designers and collaborating with Tim and his executives to grow an innovative global design brand focused on its green credentials. Up against established titans like Nike and Addidas, the New York Times calls Allbirds the go-to uniform for anyone who is anyone in Silicon Valley. 

Jamie’s work is characterised by a thoughtful clear conceptual framework and a quirky sense of humour. It is expressed through Jamie’s passion for simplicity, reduction and clean geometries. It is finessed with beautifully resolved detailing and underpinned by a deep appreciation of functionality, materials and human factors. Latterly the footprint of his work on the planet has become fundamental and is elegantly demonstrated through his work with Allbirds.

His mates reckon he’s charmingly clumsy and forgetful. Misplaces his keys and has risky time management. In your defence Jamie, these are the characteristics of a deep-thinking and focused designer, who is concentrating all his mental and creative effort on his work. Qualities of a major international talent I recognised the seeds of when you were a design student and qualities we all look forward to seeing more of in the future.

Jamie, you deserve to take your place alongside this roll of preeminent New Zealand designers. Your work is internationally outstanding and brings credit to you and to New Zealand design. Not only do you deserve to be there but you add to the prestige, Mana and peer esteem of the award.

- Professor Tony Parker, FDINZ, ONZM

RNZ Online recording and written article can be found here

Video of Designers Speak - Jamie McLellan Video of his talk from the 6th October