Why study design in New Zealand?

New zealand is ideally placed for budding designers to hone their craft. The relative isolation of New Zealand offers real advantages.

Being at the edge brings freedom to improvise, to invent and to imagine. It has created one of the world’s great experimental cultures and established a long track record of innovation for the country.

Today we see this spirit in the unique capability and expertise emerging within Wellington’s digital creative sector. Digital design and new forms of fabrication have far reaching implications, not just for design education, but also for New Zealand, as a country that is geographically isolated and which has seen the majority of its manufacturing infrastructures relocating to China.

The global reach of online manufacturing is a significant trend for the design profession and one that needs to be addressed within design education today, particularly by allowing students to explore new scenarios of making and distribution.

This regional creative digital capability has potential to bring considerable economic and cultural benefit to New Zealand.


“Being at the edge brings freedom to improvise, to invent and to imagine”

The government has shown significant commitment to the development of innovative technologies through new funding initiatives as well as business advocacy groups like Grow Wellington and the TechNZ investment programme.

This investment and support has already contributed to a growing number of companies in the region specialising in:

  • game development
  • mobile applications
  • interaction
  • usability and interface design
  • animation
  • special effects
  • and next generation manufacturing

Such promising regional developments are well-aligned with the growing interest amongst the design profession globally in exploring and exploiting new digital technologies and methods of design and fabrication.

In terms of design education in New Zealand, the School of Design, Victoria University of Wellington has illustrated commitment to foresee and lead the latest developments in digital design and to integrate such approaches into studio curriculum.

This is a critical response and one necessary for New Zealand to continue to hold its place at the edge of design innovation today as well as to develop the next generation of designers. Indeed, the growth of new disciplines, along with the increasing sophistication and complexity of design theory and practice, demands new academic programmes to meet these emerging trends.

Only by anticipating future trends, seeking new opportunities, and identifying evolving needs within design can the next generation of designers and design professionals be prepared to meet and even exceed the challenges they will face in their careers.

The tools, skills, and methods that they will learn while at design school must provide them with the capacity to realise their individual potential, to actively implement meaningful change, and to create more optimistic futures, not only for themselves, but also for humanity and the future of design.

Margaret Maile Petty
Deputy Head of School
Senior Lecturer - Culture and Context
The School of Design
Victoria University of Wellington