Online portfolio and print on demand catalogs for Graphic Design and Animation graduates from the Department of Design 2012. On this page you will find our conference presentations, and by hovering over the menu groups on the left you can read contextual documents. You are welcome to attend our Grad Show, opening on 29 November 2012 at 6pm, and daily from 30 November to 6 December 9.30am – 4pm.
To explore how different experiences, functions, history and landscapes can be embodied and communicated through a map successfully using the practice of graphic design within a specific context of the Lake Wainamu region in the Waitakere ranges in the Auckland district.
The physical context for my project this year, is the Lake Wainamu region in the Waitakere ranges. This is a live project designing for a colonial style tent retreat which is hired out for holiday stays. The area this tent is sited in is particularly beautiful and has an unusual mix of landforms, ranging from massive barren sand dunes to native bush, which surrounds a stream leading to Lake Wainamu. This area has a rich cultural landscape interweaving Maori and colonial history and has been in the proprietor’s family since the late 1800’s.
I want my design to reflect the natural and historical richness of the area, whilst being aware of the implications of balancing the desire to share the historical and physical attributes of the area and of the need to make a living, whilst respecting the land as a fragile and vulnerable eco system. This is illustrated in the writings of Sue Clifford when she talks about the “cultural landscape” of our times and says it is “our great creation, but too easily we forget that the natural world is the containment for everything else”. Clifford talks about how “places are process and story as well as artifact, layer upon layer of our continuing history and nature’s history intertwined”.
The key contextual references for my work have always been my personal viewpoint and how I have responded to environment. This response is generaly intuitive and is strongly driven by social and environmental responsibility, my aim being to conserve New Zealand heritage for future generations. The key to exposing the essence of my vision has been to draw connections between the physical environment and my sense of the world. I am interested in notions of seeing through personal memory and reflection, connecting concepts and objects and exploring them through graphic design to communicate my vision.
James Elkins explains it as “Ultimately, seeing alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer, Seeing is metamorphosis.”(Elkins 12) Ultimately my aim is for others to see what I see, to bring attention to the worth and the importance of it’s conservation. Once they have really seen the issue it is forever changed in their eyes. Also from Elkins book, “The Object Stares Back” chapter six and Practice in Context Four, “They fell into their eyes, as the poet W. S. Merwin says”(Elkins 204) this is in regards to the forgetting of history and the people that were in that time along with everything that they saw and experienced. Elkins thinks of this as a kind of blindness and says “ Blindness seems to hem in vision from front and back, leaving us very little time to see.”(Elkins 204)
I believe these ideas link to my thoughts on value, the value of our environment, the value of our pioneering heritage and our resourceful courageous pioneering spirit. I believe if we do not appreciate by seeing and conserving these atributes we are in a kind of blindness.
This paragraph to follow is also from my Practice in Context Four document: “I believe the preservation of these memories and values is important as it highlights a part of New Zealand history that is very inspirational and empowering. When we really understand and see our forebears’ achievements it can give us a foundation upon which to build our own achievements. One of the most important things I see in relation to this idea is that if we waste our resources by not remembering and appreciating them, the implications for the well being of our future generations will be greatly reduced just through the act of not seeing, by forgetting.”
I decided to use a map as a reflective representation of the area of Wainamu to understand and explain my project. Feeling a map would represent a combination of information in one place of multiple aspects. I have chosen a map as a starting point but I am aiming to extend its meaning and function beyond being two dimensional. My interests lie in physically linking this map to the environment, as well as to time and place through design. Embedding an experience/memory in the map giving it a greater meaning and making it a catalyst for change through fostering a deeper appreciation of the land and it’s history.
The haptic experience of handling the map provides the viewer with a deeper more tactile experience. My aim is to connect the experience of discovery and the idiosyncratic in the design of the physical map [a bag which is also a map and which enfolds a small publication] in order to create a rich, playful, tactile experience for the viewer, entwining their experience so that it becomes another thread of history woven into the fabric of the object.
According to Winnicott “The place where cultural experience is located is in the potential space between the individual and the environment (originally the object). The same can be said of playing. Cultural experience begins with creative living first manifested as play.” This cultural experience is what I am attempting to create through the object and the way that it is handled, to bring alive an experience that will highlight the uniqueness of the place therefore engendering itself to the user as a place worthy of preservation.
My initial experience of exploring the braided Waiti stream, which eventually leads to the lake, left me with a sense of a landscape that unravelled, revealing itself slowly, each bend and each corner moving me onward. This sense of discovery and momentum reached its climax when I reached the Lake and it revealed itself fully to me. The distinctive beauty and its unfolding made the experience special.
The revelation was not just the magnitude of the landscape, but also that the unravelling of time and the journey could become a key part of my design for this project. My desire was to explore how to bring this sense of this twisting and turning, revelation to my design. How could I make the viewer experience the same sense of discovery as they experience my map design? My challenge then became to create a map not just of space, but also of time/experience that is temporal as well as spacial.
Through my experience of the lake unfolding I have started the process of the threading of history into the bag. I added depth to this process and understanding of the area through the telling of the historic account of the young John Bethel, whose words have been incorporated into the bag design. This gives the user a broader base for understanding on which to build their own unique experience.
Within my work metaphors are a reacurring theme. I enjoy playing with the physical aspects of the environment (for example: the stream). The streams braided nature interested me most. To link this to dress making braid was a way of explaining it through my own values to offer the viewer another way of seeing, another avenue of understanding.
Another reccurring theme in my work has been the hand made object and using pencil or painted illustration to explore my ideas. These objects through their handmade nature reflect the ethos of the New Zealand pioneering spirit. Growing up I learnt to sew through making my own dolls clothes.
While making my design for this project, these seminal values have been very much present. I beleive these qualities, this pioneer way of thinking, skills and mindset, investment of time and resourcefulness are important and define our identity as New Zealanders. I believe that it is important to preserve and teach them to our young, as I feel often in this digital age these values are becoming obsolete. Therefore I endeavour always to Design with these values in mind.
Further to these values, my approach to my design has been focused on the map being practical and useable. Form follows function i.e. the body of the map firstly folds around the publication becoming a vessel for it, while the stream which is represented in a long braid like shape binds it together, as well as acting as the embodiment of the metaphorical concept of the braid on the card from the dress shop. The idea of the practical bag also relates directly to the memoirs of Pa Bethel where he talks about carrying a simple swag (which is another name for a bag) on his travels in this area.
Secondly the body of the map then turns into a practical bag which can be used to carry the publication in as well as lunch as the user walks around the lake. The braid like shape which is attached at one end, can become attached at both ends and become the strap to hold the bag on the shoulder. These practical applications for the use of my bag have given it additional meaning imbuing it with a sense of improvisation and practicality.
Another reoccurring theme has been my desire to create a publication of sorts that reflects it’s concept. Books have been a very important part of my life, there for me in times of trouble and to celebrate with alike, so being able to pass on knowledge through the form of the book is an important part of my practice. I have enjoyed looking at how Urma Boom deals with relating her concepts to the physical nature of her books. “Boom Approaches each of her book designs from a holistic angle ensuring a wonderful synchronicity between the content and the aesthetic nature of the book.” Boom describes books as being “objects that communicate ideas, stories and speak to all human senses”. Boom goes on to say “making a book in fact has become a status symbol”(boom video). Boom discusses “the object-like” quality she attempts to instill in her book design believing this is an important aspect of the continuation of the books existence in this digital time. A wonderful example of a book designed by Boom is “Weaving as a metaphor” by Sheila Hicks. This book is a prime example of a book that is a reflection of it’s concept. It is about weaving so the cover has protruding bumps in the shape of a weaving and the edges of the pages are rough which reflects the texture of cloth. This book is wonderfully tactile and has earned the right to be permanent. This book needs to be held in the hand and read through. It has longevity because of these qualities. (pic four Wright)
I have attempted to instill in my book/map/publication these qualities. The braided stream led me to experiment in a physical and metaphorical sense, revealing associations and interesting resolutions for my design. My concept resolution was linking the long fluid form of the stream to dressmaking braid. The card the braid is wound onto would resemble the body of the lake once I had it folded into a concertina format.
Led by typography and the twisting stream the viewer’s hands and mind will be guided on a journey as they unwrap and turn the stream eventually leading to the Lake. The stream will be wrapped around a panel which has been cut to reveal the negative and positive braid like shapes that are embedded in the nature of the stream. This will be twisted and turned to reveal the streams course; this action will be much like the physical momentum of walking and turning bends creating a feeling of a playful stream rhythm. This playful act of unwinding the stream links directly to Winnicott’s idea of creating a cultural experience.
Using mapping and other historic conventions such as the hand drawn and water colour illustration, I have been able to link the concept of nostalgia with the formal elements of the object that embodies the haptic through evocative physicality.
For my illustrations I chose to draw them in pencil because to me the pencil drawing reflects old fashioned values of simplicity and necessity. I chose to draw my animals and birds in an naturalistic style, inspiration for this decision came from the drawings of my Grandfather Ian Salt and Edith Holden. I have also incorporated watercolour paint and water based fabric dye because to me watercolour lends a softness which reflects a softer time, romantic notions whose origins lie in a similar line of thought to the philosophy of the arts and crafts movement of the 1860 to 1910.
Mockups have been a key driver of the decision making process since developing the design concept. I employed criteria to inform my decision-making i.e. I wanted my work to have a flow like water, the sway of a branch, a natural movement and a relationship between each part. The criteria that I was following also had practical restrictions that were informing my decision making like the limitations of the physical space that my object would be used in.
The publication could only fold out so far i.e. the tent that my map would be viewed in wasn’t that large and had a sloping ceiling, I needed to ensure the format wasn’t too wide as there would not be enough room to lay it out in it’s entirety. Also this could prove to be very annoying and not very relaxing for the viewer, making it at odds with it’s practical purpose of enriching their stay on their holiday retreat.
The decision to separate the map and publication changed the space requirements thus proving to be a major turning point in my project. Now my map could be as small as I wanted it to be and the publication could have as many pages as was needed to fit the information onto.
The material I have chosen to use for my map is a fine linen fabric, screen printing has been the process that I have used to print my design onto this fabric map. Although this process enables you to produce more than one copy it is very much a hands on process retaining its hand made feel. The next stage is applying a fabric dye to paint the stream and lake with a watercolour like finish, which matches the environment of a lake.
My colour palette was chosen to match the environment so the linen fabric I chose for the map is a fawn colour. I felt that this colour mirrors the underlying colour of the sand dunes and the muddy water of the stream. I have tried to keep the colour palette simple throughout this design just using shades of blue, green and yellow as this felt in keeping with the historical theme. These colours feel soothing and have associations with naturalistic styled drawings from an earlier era, they look old fashioned. The reason I chose the linen fabric was because it seemed a practical sturdy fabric that would be tough yet refined. Screen printing was a practical decision as it can be applied to fabric or paper and seemed a good resolution so that my design and the typography could be reproduced but would still retain a hand made finish.
An early critique had suggested that I change the floral italic typography I had chosen for a more formal style that would reflect traditional mapping conventions making my map more beleivable. I decided this was good advice and proceeded to ask my Father to write the typography for me as he formerly was a land surveyor who draughted his own plans so often did this kind of work. I felt that this practical easily readable writing also reflected the practical nature of my bag making it a more authentic object whilst still retaining a personal quality. I have also included other mapping conventions such as a north point and a scale to make my map as user friendly as possible. I also tried to keep the proportions of my stream and Lake as true to the origional tracing as possible. My Father also drew the land contour lines for me which I feel bring additional mapping conventions to my map making it feel even more authentic.
The wording I chose has been an important part of the my design. I didn’t want to distract the viewer with wordy poetic writing. I chose to keep the typography on the strap which was from my own experience as to the point as possible, so prose not poetry. For the body of the map bag I chose an origional memoir of John Bethels. I wanted to link my map to the historic story which I felt would bring a nostalgic quality to my work. To reinforce this I made an illustration of the pioneer boy, who is John Bethel to locate the bag in an earlier time and place.
The size of my publication was dictated to by the size which would fit into the map, which was a third of the maps length. The structure of this publication is in two parts, the first is the largest with the second smaller version being stitched to sit in the center of the first.
I chose to belong to the hybrid group because I believe my project fits into any of the catagories below. Information design because a map is information based and so are the historic writings and the other general information about the area around Lake Wainamu. Community design because my project is based around environmental awareness and stewardship. Promotion and Branding because the map/bag will have elements of promotion once it is passed around the family and friends of the user. Lastly there are future opportunities for logo development for the Business of Wainamu Luxury Tents.
The skills I have used in the production of this work range from client centred listening skills, taking their brief and translating it into a viable and applicable project. Fabrication skills, print making and hand rendered illustration skills which were edited digitally in photoshop and indesign. Learning to think around moving my work from a bespoke one off, to a mass produced multiple.
An outcome that I am aiming to achieve in the future is taking my bespoke map and reproducing it digitally for mass production. However retaining a bespoke feeling once the map is commodified will be my goal. The screen printed aesthetic of the hand drawn lines and typography should ensure that this bespoke quality is retained once digitised. I will take this screen printed prototype to present to my client to see if they would like to proceed with my design. I will investigate fabrics such as tyvek (fabrics like this will bring some advantages from the fact that they are very strong, and do not fray which will make assembly more simple and it is also waterproof which will be good in the wet environment around Lake Wainamu)to translate my design onto. These advantages will add value to the map helping it become an even more practical and useable object. The accompanying publication will also be a prototype which if production is decided upon will be simplified and then mass produced. Again my goal will be to retain some features of the handmade feel.
The publication that is to accompany the map/bag will house all of the relevant information for the user to have an informed experience, i.e. the background knowledge of the Waitakeres and Wainamu both historically and contemporary. The local walking tracks with maps and helpful information. A background of the family heritage of the Bethells leading to the proprietors personal reflections and information of the business of Wainamu Luxury Tents (the business this project is promoting).
An important outcome that has been achieved within my object is its holistic aspect. Holism; so that the object will be as relevant to the user, now and in the future, as much as possible.
I wanted this object to be an object in its own right not just a throwaway souvenir but a way to make the users stay more memorable. I wanted the object to have longevity, to sum up many aspects of the users stay at Wainamu, the walking, the eating, the history, to spark memories. I wanted the bag to have utility, a map so the user could understand the lay of the land, the practicality of a bag, the mix of the contemporary experience and the historical nostalgia, to support a holistic experience. I wanted the outcome of an engaging design not a passive souvenir. I wanted to make an unconventional and innovative object to compliment the uniqueness of the environment that it was designed for.
Boom, Irma. DFA (Dutch Design, Fashion and Architecture) dutch profiles on book design http://www.dutchdfa.com/profiles/361/irma-boom, 10.10.2011
Clifford, Sue, and Angela King. “Losing Your Place.” Local Distinctiveness. Common Ground United Kingdom, 30 Sept. 2009. Web. 2 May 2012.
De, Abaitua Matthew. The Art of Camping: The History and Practice of Sleeping under the Stars. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2011. Print.
Dench, Alison, and Lee-Anne Parore. Walking the Waitakere Ranges: 45 Coastal and Bush Walks. Auckland, N.Z.: New Holland, 2009. Print.)
Elkins, James. The Object Stares Back [on the Nature of Seeing]. San Diego [u.a.: Harcourt Brace &, 1998. Print.Hamish Hamilton, 2011. Print.
Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area: Bethells/ Te Henga/Waitakere Valley Local Area Background Report : A Paper on Bethells/Te Henga/Waitakere Valley in Preparation for a Locl Area Plan. Waitakere, N.Z.: Waitakere City Council, 2010. Print.
Winnicott, D. W. “Playing and Reality”. London: Brunner-Routledge, 2001. Print.
Woodward, Mary. The Bethells of Te Henga. Sydney: Eureka Research, 1988. Print.
Woodward, Mary D. The Landscape of My Heart: The Bethells and Their Neighbours. Waitakere City [N.Z.: M.D. Woodward, 2004. Print.