Best Awards 2014: Alt Group dominates with haul of 14 gongs

Winners of the Best Design Awards, the Oscars of the New Zealand design industry, were announced last Friday night at Auckland’s Viaduct Centre, and showed off how talented our country’s designers are.

The night belonged to Alt Group, which scooped up six gold pins, four silver pins, three bronze pins and a coveted purple pin, recognising its designs for Auckland arts organisation Studio One Toi Tū (formerly Artstation). The studio was also host to one hell of an after party.

From a creative advertising agency perspective, Colenso BBDO, Y&RSaatchi & Saatchi, Designworks, DDB, Ogilvy Special Group and Shine also found their names among the list of winners. The biggest haul within this group was achieved by Designworks, which picked up two golds, four silvers and four bronze gongs. This was followed by Saatchi, with three golds, a silver and three bronzes. And Colenso BBDO rounded off the top three with its haul of two golds, a silver and two bronzes.       

The Best Design Awards are run by the Designers Institute of New Zealand, and entries are split into six categories: Graphic, Product, Interactive, Spatial, Ngā Aho and Best Effect, with the the best of each discipline being awarded a Purple Pin. 

And now for a look at this year’s Purple Pin winners.

Graphic category

Purple pin winner: Alt Group’s design for Studio One Toi Tu
Other awards won by this entry: Environmental Graphics (Gold), Small Brand Identity (Gold)

Dripping paint made out of steel falls from the windows of No.1 Ponsonby Road, the home to Studio One Toi Tū in Auckland. The simple motif updates the Victorian brick building, and also shows the shift of the space from art gallery to diverse creative studio. Judges said that this entry rescued the building. “It doesn’t overpower the work that’s going on inside it, but will positively contribute to the artistic endeavours that the building provides a backdrop for.” Alt Group’s design has also been realised into custom furniture, uniforms, posters and signage.

Product category

Purple pin winner: IRIS Hunter Safety Detection System
Other awards won by this entry: Consumer (Gold)

The IRIS system, designed by Wellington-based Hunter Safety Lab, was made to increase safety for hunters, and has two parts: a laser sensor that clamps to your rifle, and a vest and cap with corresponding, IRIS-detectable reflective patches. The sensor on the rifle can detect the patches on the vest and cap up to 90 metres away, and gives an audio-visual warning to hunters that they’re pointing to a mate, not a prized piece of meat. The design was thought up as an answer to New Zealand’s alarmingly high rate of hunting accidents – a hunter is killed here every nine months; 67% of them by a member of their own party. The judges described the project as “an outstanding design solution to a deadly, emotionally-charged problem for game hunters world-wide”. 

Interactive category

Purple pin winner: Springload with Home Hunter app
Other awards won by this entry: Applications (Gold)

Kiwibank worked with realestate.co.nz and web designers Springload to develop an app which brought together property listings and the sort of bank information people need when they are buying a house (instant loan pre-approval, mortgage calculators etc). Home Hunter was New Zealand’s most-downloaded property app in May this year and has had 72,000 web users since launch. By automating loan applications and standardising credit risk assessment, it has also reduced Kiwibank’s operating costs and improved workflow. 

Spatial category

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Puprle pin winner: IMO Group HQ
Other awards won by this entry: Offices & Workplace Environments (Gold)

The new Auckland headquarters of product design company IMO Group houses the showroom, office, assembly, and dispatch areas in a flat 865m2 space. The design needed to delineate between the distinct areas (some of which were clean, some messy, some formal, some casual, some quiet, some shared), but maintain connection and movement. Inspired by the building’s Wool Store heritage, the solution used an industrial colour palette and minimal finishings. Where the bright white walls finish, large glass panels and darkly-stained wood take their place. Neatly separating the showroom and the assembly and warehouse areas is the office – a steel and glass block.

Ngā Aho category

Purple pin winner: Te Uru Taumatua

Te Uru Taumatua was constructed to house the new tribal authority for Te Iwi o Tūhoe, reflecting Tūhoe in both its physical design and impact on Tūhoe as a nation. Jasmax used materials native to the iwi’s surroundings, including native timber from nearby Te Urewera parks and pine from Tūhoe forestry. Trade packages were broken down to allow small, local businesses to tender for work competitively. For example, a local Tūhoe-based scaffold business was born as a result of the project and a carpentry subcontractor grew his team by 300%. A team of 10 Tūhoe people were trained to lead 150 volunteers producing 5000 earth bricks dug from Tūhoe whenua to form insulating walls, and art by Tūhoe artists hangs on the walls.

Effect category

Purple pin winner: Fisher & Paykel’s Simplus

Not content with taking out the Purple Pin in the product category at last year’s Best Design Awards, the Simplus face mask for patients undergoing CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy has taken the same award in the effect category this year. The mask is the result of thousands of design hours, with F&P Healthcare looking for a sleep apnoea treatment that was comfortable, well-sealed, as unobtrusive as possible, and didn’t fall off during the night. Released towards the end of 2013, it has had significant impact in terms of sales revenue and the growth of the business. So much so that the company has had to substantially expand production facilities to cope with demand.

Other winners – Gold pins


Colour award
​Colenso BBDO for Tip Top: Back To Nature
Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide for Lasting, Leaving, Left, poems by Robin Dyke

Corporate Communication
Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide for Bathurst Annual Report
Alt Group for Natuzzi Re-vive Launch Communications

Self Promotion
Coffee Supreme Ltd for Coffee Soda Gift Pack

Inhouse for Akitu
All Good Organics for All Good & Sparkling
One Design for Rogue Society Gin
Marx Design for NZ Beverages

Indesign for Akitu
Editorial and Books
Alt Group for Shigeru Ban: Cardboard Cathedral by Andrew Barrie
Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide for Lasting, Leaving, Left, poems by Robin Dyke
Starblock Ltd for Nanette Cameron: Interior Design Legend

Environmental Graphics
Inhouse for Seafarers/Ostro

GDA – Illustration
Y&R Design for Blunt Umbrella

GDA – Photography
Alt Group for New Zealand Opera: La Traviata

Large Brand Identity
Inhouse for Seafarers/Ostro
Designworks for Contact Brand

Visual Communication
Colenso BBDO for Tip Top: Back To Nature
Designworks for NZSO Campaign


Cactuslab for Back of a Napkin
Reactive for The Most Powerful Arm Ever Invented

Large Scale Websites
Resn for Adidas Originals Tumblr
Resn for Evinrude E-TEC G2
Alt Group for Fisher & Paykel Kitchen Tools

Small Scale Websites
Resn Digit for Duel Website
Grafik for Miles Calder & The Rumours
Sons & Co. for The Physics Room

Time Based Graphics
Assembly for Devils Chair


Wishbone Design Studio for Wishbone Bike Recycled Edition
Blunt Umbrellas for Blunt Golf_G1
Fisher & Paykel Appliances for WashSmart Front Loader

Designed Objects
Simon James Design for Hex 750 Brass

Formway Design for Natuzzi Revive
Designtree for Chamfer Stool

Massey University for Gallagher Ring Top Post

Sustainable Product Design
Wishbone Design Studio for Wishbone Bike Recycled Edition


Built Environment
Fearon Hay Architects for Te Kaitaka – The Cloak

Colour Award
Custance for Fisher & Paykel Product Development Centre

Exhibition Installations and Temporary Structures
Switch for Nike Lab

Exhibition Installations and Temporary Structures
Out of the dark for Field

Jasmax for The Sugar Club
ctrl Space ltd for Charlie & George
Cheshire Architects for Ortolana

Offices and Workplace Environments
Custance for Fisher & Paykel Product Development Centre

Public and Institutional Spaces
Jasmax for Shed 10

Sustainable Spatial Design
CASA for Te Mirumiru


Tania&Martin for TAKA KI RO WAI
Studio Alexander for Carin Wilson – Craftsman


BNZ Digital for BNZ YouMoney


Michelle So for The New Universal Moral Code
Luke Scott for Savin
Bianca Evangelista for How to be a Graphic Designer while slightly losing your mind
Fraser Callaway and Oliver Ward for Co-nnection​

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