DA Workshop | Life-Centred Design with Raul Sarrot | Ōtautahi

Life-Centred Design: A sustainable approach to human-centred design

Building on the previous success of Raul Sarrot’s strategy and design-thinking workshops, this hands-on session offers a deeper dive into the world of purposeful innovation, focusing specifically on how to bring a life-centred, sustainable lens to creative problem-solving

What will you learn?

You will get the chance to work alongside others on a wicked challenge….instead of using the traditional human-centred design mindset – you will take it further… to a life-centred approach that will help you gain a deeper understanding of the surrounding ecosystems. Mixing creativity, strategy and heart, this workshop will help you to connect more deeply and become more aware when working on your next design or problem-solving challenge.

Who is this workshop for?

If you are a designer, an entrepreneur, an innovation enthusiast and/or if you are part of a larger team working towards having a positive impact on wider ecosystems, then this workshop is for you. ‘Life-Centred Design’ takes human-centred design-thinking deeper and wider, offering a holistic lens that incorporates ‘systems thinking’ with a single-minded purpose: caring not only about humans but also the environment we live in. In other words, creating sustainable solutions for current and future generations.

What should you bring with you?

A marker pen, a block of post-it notes, a piece of nature of your choice, your curiosity and lots of enthusiasm. We’ll provide the rest!

About the Facilitator 

Raul Sarrot is a multi-disciplinary designer, strategist, educator and design coach who specialises in helping enterprises incorporate meaningful design into all areas of their organisations. His international experience has been forged over 30 years working alongside a wide range of commercial and not-for-profit clients in South America, Europe and the Pacific. Raul is the Founder and Director of Freshfish, a boutique studio specialising in strategy, branding and innovation and is a part-time Senior Lecturer in a variety of design-related papers at AUT. After hours, Raul is a multi-instrumentalist musician, an experimental pizzaiolo chef and a proud father of three ‘wild on Waiheke’ grown-up teenagers!

Costs for the workshop

DA Friends | $250+gst+fees
Non-members | $350+gst+fees

DA Friends receive a discount on this workshop…please see your email for the access code or email kate@designassembly.org.nz

Want to see this workshop in your region?
To register your interest for early 2024, email kate@designassembly.org.nz with name, location, how many in your team are interested and if you are a DA Friend member or not.

DA Workshop Ōtautahi | Building Brands on Big Ideas with Rupert de Paula

Design Assembly presents a workshop to help supercharge your design process with an ideas-led methodology.


Big ideas are traditionally perceived as the realm of advertising. But have as much importance and power within branding — if not more.

In fact, the best design work in the world is rooted in big ideas. High-level creative/strategic thinking executed as a brand identity. As brands increasingly morph into multidimensional entities, the need for conceptually-driven design solutions anchored around brand-defining ideas has never been more important. This approach has become one of the cornerstones of modern best practice.

In this workshop, we’ll focus on practical ways to approach design challenges from an ideas-led standpoint, and how to use your ideas as the foundation of outstanding work.

What you will learn from this workshop:

  • The ability to approach design opportunities with an ideas-first mindset
  • How to amplify strategic design briefs with creative ideas
  • How research and copywriting can enrich your ideas
  • Using ideaboards as a vital creative discovery tool
  • Confidently presenting ideas, both internally and externally

Who is this workshop for?

  • Creatives, art directors and designers of all ages and levels of seniority.
  • Everyone from students (or recent grads) looking for an edge in the job market, to juniors, mids and seniors who want to evolve their work with more conceptual craft skills, or creative/design directors on a mission to engender more ideas-led solutions from their team.

This isn’t just for creatives, too. We welcome strategists, project managers and internal delivery teams who want to heighten their creative output by enabling an environment where ideas are celebrated and encouraged.

Why should you learn from me?

Throughout my many adventures in creativity, my primary motivation has been helping awesome people make awesome ideas come to life.

No matter the size or shape of the opportunity ahead of you, arming yourself with an irrefutably incredible idea will give you — and your work — the resilience and enthusiasm essential for maintaining your own personal and professional satisfaction. Ultimately, of course, this positive energy will rub off on your colleagues and clients.

Put simply, having more conceptually compelling foundations will not only make your work better, but you’ll enjoy yourself more making it too.

At least that’s how I see it.

This workshop is my way of trying to give back to the creative and design community — by emboldening creatives to aim higher with their ideas. While providing you with a few mindset and methodology hacks along the way.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Costs for this workshop
DA Friend | Member $250.00 (plus gst + bf)
Non-member | $350.00 (plus gst + bf)

About Rupert de Paula

Rupert is a creative director, brand strategist, and director with an impressive career spanning over 15 years at world-class agencies in Europe and APAC. Originally from the UK, his work has been recognised at prestigious global award shows, as well as receiving local acclaim at Best and AGDA.

With a diverse skill set encompassing advertising, branding design, creative, strategy, copywriting, art direction, storytelling and filmmaking, Rupert’s experience eschews convention and category norms. Above all, his approach is united by a singular central tenet: a passionate belief in the transformational power of ideas.

A renowned ideas evangelist, his ability to distil multi-layered  concepts into insightful, accessible, and effective solutions continues to set him apart in the industry — expertise he is honoured to share with attendees of this workshop.




Not a DA Friend? Sign-up to help DA help you! We’ve got options for everyone.
If you’re a DA PLUS friend and would like to attend this workshop, email info@designassembly.org.nz for your access code.

If you would like to see this workshop in your area, please email kate@designassembly.org.nz with your nearest DA location
Tāmaki Makaurau

AUTUMN CONVERSATIONS | Ōtautahi Christchurch

DA Autumn Conversations is all about connecting people to people and people to ideas.

We will explore this year’s theme of “Design and Planet” through discussions around planet-centered design and educating clients about sustainable practices.

The format for the evening will include talks from our 3 featured speakers followed by a Q&A with all of the speakers.

Featured Speakers:

  • Raul Sarrot | Raul is a multi-disciplinary designer, strategist, educator and design coach who specialises in helping enterprises incorporate meaningful design into all areas of their organisations. His international experience has been forged over 30 years working alongside a wide range of commercial and not-for-profit clients in South America, Europe and the Pacific. Raul is the Founder and Director of Freshfish, a boutique studio specialising in strategy, branding and innovation and is a part-time Senior Lecturer in a varietyof design-related papers at AUT. After hours, Raul is a multi-instrumentalist musician, an experimental pizzaiolo chef and a proud father of three ‘wild on Waiheke’ grown-up teenagers!
  • Miranda Brown | Title: The Benefits of Biophilic Design | Miranda Brown has been a leader in the sustainable design movement for the past
    two decades and is driven by regenerative principles that look after nature and all life.“ Essentially my practice is all about connecting people to the beauty of nature to enhance wellbeing and to inspire people to look after our natural world. Research shows us that when people are connected to their place they look after that place. Our role is to be the Kaitiaki, guardians of the creatures, the air, earth, water and life force – the mauri ” Miranda’s unique art and biophilic design work is integrated into projects and the built environment where she connects people to nature through creative community engagement, site specific art commissions, biophilic consultation and her interiors range of textiles and wallpapers. Her portfolio includes commercial and residential projects, workplace, health and hospitals, aged care, hotels and public spaces. View www.mirandabrown.co.nz
  • Welma Sykes | Talk Title: How can I design a campaign that encourages consumers to participate in waste minimisation? | Welma is a creative and information designer who will complete her Master’s in Creative Practice at ARA in April 2024. Her field of study looks at how graphic designers can raise awareness of the environmental issues of overconsumption, as evidenced by the plastic pollution in the oceans and ever-growing landfills, to encourage consumers to participate in waste minimisation.Originally from South Africa with a BA Information Design Degree from the University of Pretoria (2014) she has gained valuable experience by both owning her own small studio and working with large corporate brands to understand the influence graphic designers have to make an idea come to life. Now in her studies she has the opportunity to challenge her own field, rooted in commercial arts and redirect it towards benefitting the environment.

Event Schedule:

  • 5:30pm – Doors open
  • 6.00pm – Talks start followed by Q&A session
  • 7.30pm – event concludes

Join us to be inspired, learn new things and be challenged by fresh ideas.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Ticket Costs

DA Friends | $20+gst+fees

Non-members | $40+gst+fees

Not a DA Friend? Sign-up to help DA help you! We’ve got options for everyone.

If you’re a DA Friend and would like to attend this event, email info@designassembly.org.nz for your access code.


Thanks to BJ Ball for keeping everyone fed!

2023 Pitch Graduate Showcase | Ara

2023 Pitch Graduate Showcase for Bachelor of Design, Visual Communication is on now until 25th Oct 2023.


Industry folks, you are invited to come along Thursday, 19 October


The exhibition will be taking place at the Kahukura building

CHRISTCHURCH: Brunch By The Beach

Come along to the New Brighton Surf Club for a unique event created for freelance graphic designers!

DA Friends can use the code DAFRIEND at checkout for a discount on their tickets.

Brunch by the Beach in Christchurch is an opportunity to connect with other local designers, learn from Matt Innes about his award-winning branding process, and get practical advice from a panel of successful freelancers. Plus, enjoy some tasty treats on our mates from Karmly!


Featured Speaker:

Matt Innes of Strategy Creative. Matt will be sharing his thoughts on the DNA of award-winning design as well as hosting his branding workshop, ‘Branding by Fire’ to help you create a simple, yet powerful brand strategy.



Abby Marriott, Kōwhai Creative. Abby is the Co-Director & Senior Creative at Kōwhai Creative, a purpose-led design studio that believes great design is about more than what meets the eye. She is the lead for website design, development and digital creative. She has a passion for strategy and business development.

Serena Mayen, Modern Design. Serena founded Modern Design, a boutique brand identity and web design studio nestled in the heart of Ōtautahi, Christchurch. She has two decades of experience as a graphic designer and her passion lies in crafting unique and professional design solutions for small businesses all over New Zealand.

Simon Dowding, Evergreen Workshop. Simon is a graphic designer based in Christchurch. He has worked in merch for over 10 years from pre-production work in a print shop to creating brands in an agency. He guides people through the process of creating custom merch that fits their brand and customers.


What you’ll get out of Brunch by the Beach:

More business confidence: Gain valuable insights from experienced freelancers and learn practical tips and strategies for managing your design business. Build your confidence and take control to achieve the profitability need for the life you want.

Connect with other freelance designers: Join us and take your business to the next level with the support of a community that understands your struggles and can help you succeed.

Inspiration: With Matt, you’ll gain fresh perspectives on the latest trends and best practices in branding design. Design upskilling is a constant in the industry and as your skills grow, so too will your business.


Optional workshops:

Following the main brunch by the beach event in the morning, we have two optional afternoon workshops available. Both workshops are on at the same time, so choose the one that best suits you. Workshop prices vary.

  • Creating an effective online portfolio by Rocketspark. Free to attend
  • Branding On Fire by Strategy Creative. $100 to attend.


More details about the event can be found here.

CHRISTCHURCH ŌTAUTAHI DA Event: Spring Conversations | Design & Placemaking

Welcome to Design Assembly’s Spring Conversations 2023!

This time we will be exploring the role that design plays in creating a sense of place.

Tickets are FREE for DA Friends – Access tickets with your special code

Placemaking is an approach where people work together to make places better, not only for themselves but for others and for the place itself. For this event we have three speakers with a wealth of experience in different aspects of placemaking who will talk about their approaches to a variety of key projects undertaken in Aotearoa.

Featured Speakers

  • Nik Kneale | Isthmus
  • Richard Burson | McCarthy
  • Hori Mataki | Ariki Creative 
  • Carl Pavletich | Ara Institute

After the talks, there will be a Q&A session where you can ask the speakers your burning questions and engage in a lively discussion with fellow attendees. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out, this event is a unique opportunity to learn from practitioners in the field and gain valuable insights into the impact of design on placemaking in Aotearoa and beyond.
Join us for an engaging and informative event that will inspire and enlighten you.

Tickets are FREE for DA FriendsAccess tickets with your special code

P.S: If you’re a DA Friend and haven’t received your ticket access code, contact us!

Thanks to our Design Assembly Partners BookPrint, mychillybin, Portfolio, Rocketspark and Streamtime and Hnry

We are delighted that Grater Goods have kindly offered to sponsor a beautiful grazing board at our conversations event….thank you team!

Grater Goods | premium, artisan products that are 100% plant based


We invite you to join your fellow designers and creatives to share snippets from your busy year and celebrate the start of summer…at last! Come together for some kōrero and kai, whilst kicking back and preparing for the start of the silly season!

This relaxed, two-hour event is for members of our Design Assembly community and beyond to connect and mix and mingle to your heart’s content. Your ticket includes a welcome drink, snacks and a hands-on Christmas activity to take home….what a great way to spend a Thursday evening! Stay in the hood for dinner and more socialising afterwards, as you wish…

This is a whānau-friendly event….children under 18 are welcome and free to attend

Tickets are FREE for Design Assembly friends of all tiers.
You can sign up to be a DA Friend anytime—and there’s no time like the present.
Have a peep at our membership options here.


Cost for Summer Social Ōtautahi

FREE for all DA members
+gst+bf for non-members


Venue | Plato Creative
63 Manchester Street


We’re looking forward to celebrating with you! Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Your friendly DA team!

CHRISTCHURCH DA Event: Autumn Conversations – Design & AI

Welcome to Design Assembly New Zealand Autumn Conversations. In this event, we’ll be exploring the fascinating intersection of design and artificial intelligence. Our theme is “Design and AI: How to use AI in your design process.”

The world of design is constantly evolving, and AI is one of the most exciting developments of recent years. From generating design ideas to automating repetitive tasks, AI has the potential to revolutionise the way we approach design. But how can we harness this technology to its full potential?

To answer this question, we have speakers who will share their insights, experiences, and ideas on how to incorporate AI into your design process. They’ll discuss the benefits and challenges of using AI, showcase real-life examples, and provide practical tips for integrating AI into your workflow.

Giselle Scott, Digital Product Designer, Rush Digital 

Giselle is an experienced digital product designer with a deep passion for AI, accessibility and digital inclusion. With industry experience in healthcare and technology, Giselle leads both RUSH’s Accessibility and AI Guilds and spearheads change, from internal functions within her design team to the products RUSH creates for their customers. Giselle’s focus on designing beautiful, intuitive and accessible products, including leading the design on multi-platform digital experiences and design systems, has led to true impact and improvement in the lives of New Zealanders.

James Mumby-Croft, Creative Lead, Plato Creative

James has a broad creative skillset that has seen him move through several roles with the Plato team over the last 9 years before taking on the position of Creative Lead. Starting his career as a photographer in the UK, James quickly branched out into production, graphic design, and brand development. His range of experience allows him to strike the perfect balance between artistic expression, technical design, and the big picture of brand development to create truly exceptional work. James has continued to expand his skillset and grow the creative team’s capabilities across the areas of motion, video, and motion design. James truly fizzes on visual storytelling and what it can accomplish for a brand.


After the talks, there will be a Q&A session where you can ask the speakers your burning questions and engage in a lively discussion with fellow attendees. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out, this event is a unique opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field and gain valuable insights into the future of design.

Join us for an engaging and informative event that will expand your knowledge of design and AI, and inspire you to integrate AI into your creative process.

Tickets are FREE for DA Friends – Access tickets with your special code

P.S: If you’re a DA Friend and haven’t received your ticket access code, contact us!

Plato Creative
63 Manchester Street, Christchurch

Thanks to our Design Assembly Partners BookPrintmychillybin, PortfolioRocketspark and Streamtime
Drinks Partners: Major Major Karma Drinks

CHRISTCHURCH DA Event: Women in Design Lunch

Design Assembly was born out of the desire to see more representation and participation for women in the creative industry in Aotearoa—all this time later, we are still fostering this mission. We’re celebrating International Womens Day (everyday) with a private lunch our female-identifying Design Assembly Friends at Orphan’s Kitchen.

A private event for our female identifying DA Friends.

This event will be held at Botanic, 126 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013


Register in Humanitix with your DA Friend CODE (emailed out to our friends, please get in touch if you have not received it)

CHRISTCHURCH DA Workshop: Discover Your Designer DNA with Jason Biggs

What would happen if we could finally put a name to the things we do best – our innate personality strengths – and access them on the daily to help achieve our personal and career goals?

Discover Your Designer DNA

We all have talents; naturally recurring ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving that can be productively applied.  We use them every day to achieve what we are responsible for.  The challenge is that talents are innate.  We just “do them” without thinking.  So it can be difficult for us to describe them to others and even see the value in them ourselves.  An example of this is think about the question, “What is one positive word people used to describe you?” Many of us find this difficult to quickly answer.

The truth is in any work we do the HOW’s (thoughts, feelings, behaviours) always come before the WHAT’s (the priorities and delivery of the work).  What if we were able to accurately describe our talents so that it:

  • Short circuits how your boss, team, and clients can get the best from you
  • Supports how you best work together, to make the process of design much simpler
  • Be able to ask the right questions to get the best from others

What will I learn?

We all love a personality test.  We start by completing a CliftonStrengths profile which helps to identify and describe your talents.  The trick with any profile is that it is most powerful when you understand how to apply them uniquely to you.  This three hour workshop is designed to help you discover:

  • How to get the best out of you Understand your 1 in 33 million point of difference.  Be able to confidently voice the unique way you approach your work.  What you are good at and why (something that can help boost your portfolio)
  • How to get the best out of others Increase empathy for others, how we all do things differently and that through intentional partnerships you can make our work more impactful
  • Tools to get right information from those you work with through adapting your style, by leveraging your talents and most importantly by asking the right questions

Who is this for?
  • Creative Directors
  • Design Directors
  • Account Mangers
  • Design Studio Owners
  • People moving into managing leadership roles which manage teams
  • Employees across all functions and roles; whether it be designers or the teams and roles that support them
  • Freelance or contractor designers looking to unlock natural strengths and turn them into their unique point of difference.
  • Consider more than one person attending from your team to improve the collaboration between you

What will I walk away with?
  • A Gallup CliftonStrengths profile and CliftonStrengths Theme Report and CliftonStrengths Insight Guide
  • A pre work quick course to debrief the results
  • A detailed and personalised reference guide with insights including what you contribute, what you need, how you are best managed
  • Debrief with a group of individuals with a process designed to create new connections
  • A follow-up programme with additional resources and reminders to apply what was covered in the workshop


This workshop’s feedback from the DA community:

“I found the example coaching questions included very helpful and will try to incorporate them in to my catch-ups with my team. I would be keen on my team also doing the questionnaire for themselves as I found there were helpful insights in my report and was surprised by some of them.” – Mary Adams, Pōneke workshop attendee

“It was great both from an individual and team perspective. I attended with 3 other colleagues and it has been a great subject of discussion and exchange.” -Tāmaki Makaurau workshop attendee

“Smaller group, workshopping with different partners, Jase kept it very work-related. It was very encouraging and motivating.” – Camilla Lau, Pōneke workshop attendee

I found Jase to be very personable from the offset. He noticed small details and actions amongst us and used those as reference points during his story telling which made me feel very much included. Most of us were strangers at the start but the simple and quick exercises broke down any walls as I could see. We ended up having conversations with what felt like friends in areas that normally I would save for later. The concept of what strengths means and how to leverage these to suit was great rather than just focusing on weaknesses and what needed to be improved. The conversations were well balanced between us as individuals and as a group.” – Te Kani Price, Pōneke workshop attendee


Workshop Costs:

Our DA Friends receive savings of $100 per ticket at this workshop. Join as a DA Friend here.

– Non-DA Friend, $350+gst

– DA Friend, $250+gst

– DA Student Friend, $100+gst


Join as a DA Friend here.

Meet your facilitator: Jason Biggs — The Strengths Collective

Jason helps workplaces and their people hum through coaching, workshops and self-sustaining tools that help you short circuit the process and DIY. His method helps to identify and play to yours, your teams’ and your organisation’s strengths, have better, regular and more impactful coaching conversations, and focus on the important stuff. Jason has worked in the corporate sector for over 20 years, marketing brands like NESCAFE, KLEENEX and HUGGIES. He thrives helping people understand why they do what they do and to leverage this to get what they want. He’s a commercial guy at heart so that means delivering good business outcomes. In the last ten years he’s coached hundreds of people either as individuals or teams and worked with organisations such as Spark, Nestle, Freightways, New Zealand Blood Service, Chapman Tripp, Downer, Fonterra, Kiwicare, The Tile Depot.

Thanks to our Design Assembly Partners BookPrintmychillybinPortfolioRocketspark and Streamtime.
Not a DA Friend? Sign-up to help DA help you! We’ve got options for everyone.
If you’re a DA PLUS friend and would like to attend this workshop, email us for your free access code.

CHRISTCHURCH DA Event: SOY Social 2023

Save the date!

We’re doing things a little different in Ōtautahi! Instead of celebrating the end of the year, we’re teaming up with our Design Assembly Friends at Strategy Christchurch to kick off 2023 with a low-key networking event for members of our Design Assembly community and beyond and to celebrate their new office space. Your ticket will gain you entry into Strategy, nibbles and a couple of drinks for the evening. More details to come.

More details to come.

Tickets are FREE for our Design Assembly friends of all tiers. You can sign up to be a DA Friend anytime—and there’s no time like the present. Check out our membership options here. Not in Christchurch? Check out our Auckland and Wellington equivalent events.

Join The Party

Thanks to our Design Assembly Partners BookPrint, mychillybin, Portfolio, Rocketspark and Streamtime and to Lindsay Yee and Abhi Topiwala for the incredible and inflatable event artwork.

Christchurch Grad Show: Ara Institute Pitch 22 Exhibition

Design Assembly School, Ara Institute of Canterbury, warmly invite you to a celebration of design, a collection of work from 31 final year students, covering brand, advertising, publications, video, animation, UI, installations, merchandising and more. https://www.arapitch.co.nz/



CHRISTCHURCH DA Event: Spring Conversations — Design For Everybody

Design Assembly is delighted to present our Spring Conversations panel discussion series for September 2022.
Design For Everybody will invite 3 local creatives, (or creative adjacent individuals) to engage in an authentic discussion and Q&A about inclusion in the creative industry;

  • What does it mean to be inclusive in design?
  • What is ‘lived experience’ and how does it affect our work?
  • How can we collectively make better design for everyone?


$30+gst Professional | FREE for Design Assembly Friends
Not a DA Friend? Sign-up to help DA help you! We’ve got options for everyone.

Our Ōtautahi (Christchurch) panellists:

Johnson Mckay — Ira

Johnson is the Kaiwhakahaere Matua of Ira, a strategic and creative agency that specialises in helping Aotearoa thrive through authentic, creative work that inspires and connects us all to this whenua and to each other. He works with government, business and diverse communities to design creative solutions for a thriving Aotearoa. Johnson is passionate advocate for inclusive practises that bring together all New Zealanders to design an authentic Aotearoa together, where everyone has a voice and te reo Māori and Māori cultural perspectives enrich us all.

Sarai Mckay — Ira

The best from the East and West, Sarai descends from a line of chiefs through Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Taranaki and Tainui. Sarai brings her experience in strategy, communications, cultural advisory and Iwi engagement to the Ira team where she is a Pou Rautaki — Cultural Strategist. She is passionate about Māori social, spiritual and economic development and loves the opportunities she has to make an impact on the future climate of Tangata Whenua, Tangata Tiriti relationships.


Matt Kito — McCarthy

Matt joined McCarthy in Otautahi, Christchurch as Creative Director in 2018 following stints at Strategy Creative and Studio South in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. McCarthy are a full-service design studio who specialise in brand identity, campaign and digital. They create meaningful work that comes from an understanding of our clients and their audience.


Kelly Lovelock — Plato Creative

Kelly Lovelock is an award winning, multi-skilled creative with over 18 years’ experience. Initially a professional surfer from Raglan, Lovelock moved into advertising after his creative talents were noticed by one of his sponsors – surf brand Volcom. From there Lovelock’s advertising career took off as his work was noticed and he worked his way through some of the top agencies in Australia and New Zealand, including Publicis Mojo (Sydney) and FCB (Auckland) earning numerous accolades along the way. For the last four years Lovelock has been working as a creative consultant for a raft of NZ owned companies while working out of Wanaka and embracing life in the mountain town. Kelly has recently taken up the position of Executive Creative Director at Plato Creative to significantly boost their creative fire-power and take their integrated thinking to another level.


Thanks to our Design Assembly Partners BookPrint, mychillybin, Portfolio, Rocketspark and Streamtime
Event artwork by Lindsay Yee and Abhi Topiwala

Not in Auckland? Check out our Auckland and Wellington Spring Conversations.


CHRISTCHURCH DA Workshop: Designing an Authentic Aotearoa with Johnson McKay

Globally, there is a hunger for authentic brands, experiences and a connection with people and community. This has created an increased desire to authentically engage with and share Māori culture, narratives and forms of expression. Learn how to create authentic Māori cultural design and narratives at this full day workshop.

$450+gst Professional | $350+gst Design Assembly Friend | $125+gst Student
Light lunch provided.
(Not a DA Friend? Details on how to sign up can be found here).



Presented by Johnson McKay (Ngāti Kahungunu, Tainui Waikato, Ngāti Porou), Ngā Aho Best Award recipient from the Designers Institute and Ngā Tohu Reo award recipient from the Māori Language Commission, his body of work and passion make this workshop a not to be missed experience.

The workshop explores three key aspects to using Māori design:

We review a broad spectrum of historical and contemporary case studies of Māori design to define the principles of Māori art forms and how we can apply these to contemporary applications. Of importance is what is traditional vs modern, authentic vs inauthentic Māori design.

Gain a deeper understanding of key aspects of Tikanga Māori and how they assist at protecting and elevating Māori design in a variety of contexts. What are appropriate design narratives and how do you add to the body of amazing work being produced without plagiarising or offending.

We discuss different kinds of partnership models with Iwi Māori and Māori artists identify which model is appropriate for their aspirations to incorporate Māori concepts into their brand or product. Several barriers are also reviewed and solutions proposed.

About the teacher

Johnson McKay

Tēnā koutou e ngā hau e whā,

E mihi kau ana au ki te tai rāwhiti, mai i te one o Te Māhia Mai Tawhiti ki te tihi o maunga Hikurangi, ara, ko te whenua kura o ōku tīpuna. Nō Ngāti Porou rāua ko Ngāti Rongomaiwahine ahau. Ka rere atu āku mihi ki te tai hauāuru, ki te āhuru mōwai o ōku tuupuna nō Ngāti Mahuta e noho ana i ngā pikopiko o te awa Waikato. E ngā mātāwaka, ngā iwi, ngā whānau whanui, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Kia ora everyone. I am the Founder and Creative Strategist at Ira, an agency I started back in 2005. In that time, we have worked across a wide portfolio of clients, from Air New Zealand and Auckland Tourism, to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Coca Cola brands.  Our work has been recognised by the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Awards for work across Chelsea Sugar, McDonalds and Māori Television. We’ve also received awards and recognition from The Māori Language Commission (Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori) for work to normalise and revitalise te reo Māori on our design practise.

My passion is authentic narratives, told in compelling and emotionally engaging ways and we bring that lens to every client project. I gain a strong source of inspiration and meaning from Aotearoa: our nature, our people, our native language, art and values.

Like most New Zealanders, my identity is a mix of influences. From my American mother, to my father, who grew up in Māhia, to my love of hip hop and basketball culture, to my religious and cultural values. That fluid mix is my bridge to the minds and hearts of diverse people and why I have created this workshop. It’s a space for everyone, of all cultures to come and create their bridge to Māori values, culture, language and art forms. Bring your diverse influences with you and leave being added to through the richness of Te Ao Māori.

Nau mai, haere mai, whakatau mai nei ki tēnei wānanga.