Kātoitoi kaupapa, people and process.

7 months ago by

An annual collection of design, Kātoitoi the Aotearoa Design Archive seeks to capture, curate and map design practice and practitioners in Aotearoa. Kātoitoi collects representations of Aotearoa now, as seen through the lens of our designers and studios. Together, they help shape our design history and contribute to our national discourse. Review and response are an integral part of the kaupapa of Kātoitoi, creating a critical dialogue around the work. The archive charts the role and impact of design on our society and culture through interviews, critical essays and artworks. The collection evaluates design based on its social significance, visual innovation, excellence of craft, and process. Over time, the intention is that the archive will become a valuable resource for research and critical reflection.

All Aotearoa-based design studios and practitioners can submit work to Kātoitoi.

Kātoitoi strives to be;

  • Accessible
  • Active
  • Collaborative
  • Diverse
  • Inclusive
  • Honest
  • Rigorous
  • Relevant
  • Respected
  • Responsible

Our People

The Aotearoa Design Archive is a Design Assembly initiative. Kātoitoi was co-founded by Louise Kellerman and Nicole Arnett Phillips in 2020. Funding support from Creative New Zealand enabled the 2020 pilot. Karl Wixon (Arahia), Johnson McKay (Fly), Studio South, New Territory and Mark Easterbrook shaped the project in a co-design process with the founders.

Our contributing writers are; Karl Wixon (Arahia), Mark Easterbrook (Words & Ideas), Kate McGuinness, Lee Parkinson (Strategy Creative), Kerry Ann Lee (Massey CoCA), Nicole Arnett Phillips (Kātoitoi & Design Assembly).

Our visual contributors are; Elliot Stansfield (Design lead), Izzy Joy (Art), Rebecca Ter Borg, (Art), Joe Carrington (Art), Bonnie Brown (Art), Lisa Baudry (Art).

Our inaugural review panel is; Adeline Marteil (Atelier Marteil & Shine), Ange Thorne (Fox&Co), Clem Devine (Jasmax), Emma Kaniuk (Akin), Fiona Grieve (Threaded & AUT), Jordan Foster (Wintec), Kyra Clark (Threaded), Maria Deveraux (Colenso BBDO), Matt Grantham (Onfire), Nick Kapica (Isthmus), Phyo Thu (Fox&Co), Tana Mitchell (Akin), Tim O’Neill (Plato) and Trudi Hewitt (Wintec).

Our Process

Each of our panelists will review work across three (of 10) output categories. Assessing how well the work meets four specific criteria:

  • Does this project demonstrate mastery or innovation of craft in the chosen outcome?
  • Does this project advance our design practice or discourse?
  • Does this project have influence and or impact outside of the design community?
  • Does this project deliver against the selected Kaupapa?


Reviewers are asked to evaluate each project objectively. This review process will happen online in isolation. There will be a minimum of three reviewers assessing each category to ensure an equitable and fair review process. Having multiple reviewers per category enables them to abstain from assessing work where they may have a potential conflict of interest.

Our Voice

The archive is a resource created for designers by designers. Kātoitoi is our collective voice.

Audibly we are represented by the call of the South Island Robin. The Kātoitoi call was captured by Les Mcpherson who graciously permitted us to use the song. “Male Kātoitoi song, Newcombes Robertson Road Lewis Pass, August 1973, 0650 Dawn, Les McPherson”

Visually our voice is represented by Geograph and Söhne, designed by Kris Sowersby.

Our Vision

As the archive builds year by year, Kātoitoi will explore
our people, culture and social development through the lens of design.

The 2020 pilot includes:

  • A digital home to discuss, research and exhibit Aotearoa design work
  • 100 peer-reviewed artefacts (with physical and digital objects collected as well as the text responses)
  • Three in-person kōrero and exhibition events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
  • 16 interviews and profiles
  • 12 critical essays
  • 31 visual response artworks mapping the people, themes and outputs
  • A directory of design contributors for the curated work.


There is huge potential to develop and evolve the project and we are actively investigating options to iterate, expand and advance Kātoitoi, ensuring this is a project with longevity, delivering value to our community today and into the future.


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