Take 10 with… Richie Hartness

1 year ago by

The DA team want to support our community through these unprecedented times – something we kept coming back to is a focus on connection and community. So we want to do what we think DA does best, sharing ideas, inspiration and information and profiling our community.

With that in mind, we launched a new series Take 10 with… to do a pulse check on how you’re feeling, how you’re working, what you are missing, and what your hopes are for the future. We invited some of our friends, peers and the DA team to participate and we hope you enjoy these honest and candid profiles of Aotearoa designers today.



Introduce yourself:

My name is Richie Hartness and I’m the Design Director at Voice brand agency in Auckland. My depth of experience across design has always focused on branding and brand experiences. I have been designing, developing and delivering high profile, award winning brands for over 20 years both in New Zealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK).  I joined Voice in April 2017 and am enjoying working with the Principal, Jonothan Sagar and the team. Together, we are one of NZ’s leading brand specialists with clients in NZ and Australia.



How did you get into design? 

My design journey began with an interest in fine arts and after studying at Middlesbrough School of Art & Design in the UK, my passion morphed into visual communication and the brilliance of conceptualising and bringing brands to life.
My first job was doing finished art for a regional newspaper (in the UK), it taught me a great deal about typography and layout.
While I did not have a formal mentor until later in my career, I’m grateful to have learnt something unique and useful from all my bosses. It sounds cliché but each of them has shone a light on different aspects of design and that has fuelled my creativity.

What do you love about design? 

I am lucky to have pursued a profession that I love – a job that allows me to feel, create and influence – and hopefully, inspire others. It moves me when a great idea is paired with a compelling strategy and powerful visual – when this comes together well, it is like a perfect marriage, almost symbiotic.
A design career provides me with the opportunity to work alongside designers, photographers, copywriters and of course, clients – all of whom I learn from. It’s interesting to be on-site directing a photo shoot and speaking with clients and hearing about the nuts and bolts of their businesses. I have a curious character so collaborating with colleagues and clients is something I enjoy.

What or who inspires you?

I draw inspiration from all sorts of audio/visual communication. From music I hear or podcasts that I listen to and books that I read, to seeing a striking installation in a gallery or an emotive piece of advertising – it all inspires me, if it makes me feel.

How are you feeling right now?

We are living through a rare time in history and I hope as a people we learn from this experience. Although we have been physically disconnected, I feel more connected to my family and community, both here in New Zealand and globally. The technologies that we are fortunate enough to use remind me how small the world is. In a word…I’m feeling grateful (for my health, family, my fiancé, friends, my job, our health system, and for having the time to pause and rethink life).

Are you working right now, if so what does your work from home day look like?

Working from home has been more efficient and positive than I first thought. We have a daily virtual team gathering/call to go around the grounds regarding work tasks and simultaneously check-in on how everyone is doing?
I also have designer and account manager calls to ensure our current projects are progressing well and presentations are ready for clients, etc.
My days are productive, as I jump between projects and use Slack and Zoom to communicate with the team.


What’s your one tip right now?

Embrace change! Change doesn’t have to be scary or difficult, it can be a good opportunity to try new things. Working in a virtual studio for the first time has been awesome. Using different technologies has proved successful for communicating with our team and clients. Beyond my personal arena, I hope the world embraces some change as it goes through the transition from pandemic to recovery. There’s powerful lessons to be learnt around how we do business in a digital era and working together better as global citizens.

Tell us about your current workspace.

I sit in the heart of the house, the kitchen. The window provides a view to the street and it is been interesting to see the passers-by. Both myself and my fiancé are working from home and while we physically occupy the same space, we have managed to not step on each other’s toes. I enjoy ploughing through my work and taking a lunch break together.

Which local business are you going to miss most during our isolation period? 

I’ve missed my morning coffee from Coffix and having a chat to Daniel and Maria. I sincerely hope their business is transitioning to a new normal.

What do you hope for the Aotearoa design community going forward?

I hope the NZ government take the opportunity to nurture design as a core industry. I witnessed a similar scenario in the UK after the GFC, that is a lull in economic prosperity. However, the UK government of the day pledged that creativity was one of the ways to differentiate themselves as part of the economic recovery. As part of this the British Design Council was given a mandate to educate businesses about the value of design and so a thriving creativity industry was reborn. There is an opportunity for NZ to become a design leader as part of our economic recovery and I look forward to contributing.


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