Media Design School 2021 Graduate Exhibition

3 years ago by

We’re giving you a sneak peek at some of the graduating talent coming out of Aotearoa this year, and a taste of what they’ve been working on.

Welcome to the Media Design School showcase – we are from the Bachelor of Media Design degree programme.

Every year, we run an end of year show in November exhibiting all Capstone Projects. Unfortunately, this year, Auckland is at a restricted level of lockdown. We will be running our exhibition show, virtually.

Evolve is a big word we learnt and took away from the year 2021. The year has shown us the importance of vulnerability, empathy, to have inner strength, building daily routines; and most importantly the power to be self-disciplined.

The 2021 cohort has gone through the most comprehensive three year degree programme in a tertiary learning environment – endless moments of catastrophising what might happen. The determination and resilience showed from these graduates has helped to successfully pull off extensive projects throughout the years (2019, 2020 and 2021), considering all the interruptions that happened in the learning environment.

There are 43 Capstone Projects, 3 majors and a huge range of interdisciplinary skills across each project. Each profile page contains the graduate’s contact details, supporting images and video of the work, and a written report of the research project – head to to view the full list of projects.

BaileyHattam_01.jpgBailey Hattam – Anorexia on the Brain

Anorexia is not a choice. Developing silently, mentally and emotionally, it is a brain intruder that slowly kills its victim from the inside. It is difficult to understand for anyone which has led to conflicting information in our community.  As a survivor of anorexia, I am tasked to help those suffering, by educating and sharing my story.

Through my journey, it has become apparent that my carers and support people, my circle of strength are my target audience. In order to help me, they needed to know what was happening in my brain. The purpose of this project is to educate the support people and the general public about the intruder on the brain that is anorexia. The project aims to visually represent anorexia on the brain, giving the audience an insight into anorexia.

Anorexia on the brain is a 3 piece representation of how anorexia takes over the brain. It allows a visual understanding of how it slowly engulfs the brain and sufferer. As well as a poem about my journey with anorexia which is a reflection of true feelings and battles, biting at the heart of the topic. It is an immersive experience with different aspects, each aspect is key to understanding how anorexia affects the brain. The project overall allows the audience to understand the beginning of Anorexia on the Brain.



Emily Moller – Gallery for Her

As a female designer, my work is deeply imbued with values such as diversity, accessibility and candour. I am a UX/UI designer and wanted to use this project to test the norms of what I would usually be comfortable designing. My design approach is inquisitive and empathetic and I find it important to utilize my privilege by raising important issues through design. During this project, I was looking into ways of expressing my fears as a female designer about to enter the design industry for the first time. Being surrounded by other women in my class facing the same daunting challenges as myself, I was presented with the problem of post-graduation anxiety, and how leaving university also means leaving behind your support network.

‘Gallery of her’ is an online and published field guide that creates conversations about navigating the design industry in order to reduce common feelings of post-graduation anxiety in female design graduates. The project offers a community-based platform to empower, inform and aid women throughout this daunting time. The insight that post-graduation anxiety is felt strongly by female designers, due to the lack of representation and the absence of community, motivated this project. The field guide supplies valuable insights and eases anxieties through podcasts, articles, and videos all focused on creating supportive conversations about the challenges faced post-graduation, and navigating the industry as a woman. The content is refreshed every month both online and in the release of a new publication edition. Most valuable of all is the community this platform supplies. Both online and in-person community events, workshops and sharing is encouraged and facilitated through the website and publication, creating a support network of women experiencing the same challenges.



Ryan (Jung Hwan) Baek – Stellify


Stellify is an interactive memorial website for people who have experienced a sudden loss of a loved one. On the website, users can send a message that has been left unsaid to the deceased one through text, voice or video calls. Stellify delivers those unsaid words through a star and visualise them in a night sky to honour, create a symbolic bond and express emotion more meaningfully, sharing with people.

According to recent research, 32% of people experienced the major loss of a family or friend over the last three years, and 45% of them were not anticipated. The sudden unexpected death of a loved one is a traumatic experience due to no time to prepare. Whatever unsaid, undone, and unexpressed make the grief incredibly difficult, delayed and much longer, causing feelings of guilt, regret and depression. Dealing with the sudden loss in the time of COVID-19 is way more challenging since physical funerals are restricted due to the lockdown and border closure.



Lily Wigglesworth – Fellow Fields


In an increasingly climate-conscious, plant-based society, the identity of rural New Zealand sits at a crossroads. Having rural roots myself, I wanted to focus my creative skills on helping Kiwi farmers take back their social license to farm by shifting towards more regenerative farming practices. Regenerative Agriculture is a symbiotic approach to farming that, among other benefits, can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and help mitigate the effects of climate change. Fellow fields use interactive design to facilitate regenerative knowledge exchange across New Zealand with the aim of empowering farmers on the frontline of the climate crisis.

My inquiry was led by a design thinking methodology to uncover the problem and tackle it from a human-centred, iterative approach. Empathising with regenerative stakeholders and farmers through interviews revealed that becoming regenerative goes beyond changing on-farm practices; it requires a shift in mindset that challenges traditional ideas of farm health, progress and success. Embracing these shifting values carries a social stigma that can isolate farmers from peers they rely on for decision-making support.


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Jason Barnes – Memories of Water


The lives of our loved ones are deeply interwoven with our own. This connection is everlasting; their memories continue to send ripples into the world beyond their departure. When my dad passed away at the end of 2020, I came to realise how much his story had transformed my views on life. This project is a reflection on his life and how our stories are forever interwoven.

The final motion outcome is a journey across time, reliving my late father’s story through the visual metaphor of water and its changing states. Water, ice and steam together illustrate a very personal yet relatable story of interconnected contrast- health and illness, past and present, impermanence and everlastingness. The element of water will always be deeply connected to memories of my dad, a professional sailor. While this project utilised a hybrid of digital and analog mediums, the final aesthetic is that of a ‘living journal’. Watercolour illustrations and reflective writing emerge from the page and flow through a sequence of crystallised memories. The voices are those of my immediate family, and together this is our tribute to the memory of my dad.

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Chu-Hsun, Cheng – A Tale of Wonton Noodles


I started this project from a problem statement and a background story and setting to this animation work. The Guo-Mao community, where I grow up, is the largest village in Taiwan. However, most adults decided to move to bigger cities for better job opportunities or higher incomes in these ten years. As a result, the Guo-Mao community is decaying and abandoned day by day. Due to family reasons, I moved out from the Guo-Mao when I was ten and never returned until 2019. The most memorable event was that my grandfather used to take me to have Wonton Noodles in a restaurant. After moving out of the community, I had searched for Wonton noodles that have a similar taste from that moment for years until I decided to revisit the Guo-Mao community in 2019 and found out the restaurant was closed for a long time.

According to my research, the most common trigger of nostalgia was the negative effect (38%), which means encountering challenging, physical pain or loss from family members. Therefore, this factor determines my target audience, which focuses on people around 25-30 years old, have encountered an emotional loss, trying to shift this feeling to an object, place, or particular moment, which eventually became an emotional trigger. A Tale of Wonton Noodles is a 3 minutes 3D animation based on a research question of “How to encourage people, specifically aged 24-32 years old, to face nostalgic emotions and accept the long-gone or beloved memory to have a more positive mindset” through an animation based on a personal story. The animation aims to bring strength and hope to people who struggle with emotional loss and remind them that the past should not be burdens that stop you from moving on.


Yixuan Zhu – A Bite That Takes Me Home


‘A Bite That Takes Me Home’ is a motion piece that aims to support Chinese immigrants in Auckland to preserve the traditions through food celebrations and passing knowledge down. As being a part of this group, I know how much migrants struggle with their cultural identity in a new environment. This can lead to a cultural identity crisis that destroys their wellbeing and prevents them from achieving better lives. Therefore, I want to encourage them to reunite with their home culture, as well as bring the inside story out and bridge the minority groups with the wider society.

I tested various interactive possibilities before coming up with this story. It showcases Chinese food traditions and customs in the timeline of four main Chinese festivals in four seasons. For example, the sacred ancestor worshipping in spring, the rice dumplings wrapped with lotus leaves in summer, the mooncakes and family myth time in autumn, and the endless feast and new year’s fireworks in winter. These food practices will bring Chinese immigrants back to their childhood memories when watching the relatable scenes. Also, rooted in these flashbacks is the deep meaning and beliefs about how the Chinese connect with nature, with the deceased, and with the whole community.



Cherhern Chang – Can We Open It?


“Can we open it?” is a conceptual platform that addresses the lack of acknowledgement of the importance of mental health among young Asian adults in New Zealand. Utilising a website as a platform to facilitate anonymous voice messages as a way to encourage mental health self-awareness, connections with the community and prompting a starting point to build conversations about mental health in Asian households. The challenge was to mitigate the problem of navigating through how mental health can be acknowledged and comfortably talked about within the context of living in Asian households in New Zealand.

In New Zealand, mental health has always been an important topic within our community and recently a rise in conversation due to the significant impacts on our mental health with the changes of lifestyle because of COVID-19. Through conversations, interviews and surveys with young Asian adults like myself, a key insight noted a lack of conversation about mental health within our households and especially with our parents due to the generational gap and common miscommunications. Mental health in Asian culture is perceived quite differently compared to New Zealand as it is generally rarely talked about or even acknowledged due to cultural stigmas, stereotypes, traditional beliefs, myths and lack of education.

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