The Designers Institute’s Best Awards give props to creatives who excel in spatial, product, graphic and interactive design. We’ve gathered together a few of our faves from this year’s winning line-up.
Residential architecture Gold Pin: Forest House by Fearon Hay Architects
At the foot of Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges, this home is a series of timber-clad gabled structures that connect to create multiple courtyards. The homeowner had spent years collecting vintage timber from different parts of the country, stockpiling large beams, pallets of native timber and a huge supply of totara, so the architects decided to design a home that showcased this unique stash. The resulting design features slatted shutters that can be closed to make the indoor spaces warm and intimate, or opened to let in the light that moves from north to west as the day unfolds. The home’s shingle roof and exterior shells, crafted from native timber boards, team with situ-cast concrete masses that bracket the rooms within and add weight and strength to the generous open-plan interior.
Residential architecture Gold Pin: Westmere House by Ponting Fitzgerald
The architects’ brief for this project was to design a house that makes use of the natural features of the central Auckland location, particularly the harbour. Achieving this beautifully, a stream greets visitors at the gate, winds past a native-tree-filled courtyard into a quiet arrival space, travels through the house, then snakes back outside and into a long, deep pool before dropping off an infinity edge to visually merge into the ocean view. Concrete walls anchor the home and bring a sense of permanence; dark cedar ribbons weave over and through these walls, defining the interior and exterior zones of the home. Inside, spacious rooms overlook and open onto the harbour, while more intimate retreats, including an underground man cave, nestle into the home’s solidity. Playing off each other, the water, concrete, cedar, glass and steel all bask in reflections from the bay.
Residential architecture Gold Pin: Bethells Bach by Herbst Architects
A study in playful simplicity, this two-bedroom bach set back from the beach overlooks a lush green hillside in Te Henga (Bethells Beach), 30km north-west of Auckland. An informal dwelling, it takes in the wild beauty of its coastal location through various apertures, including a covered deck with a fireplace at the entry and a semi-enclosed terrace off the lounge. Timber-batten screens provide protection from the wind in a central courtyard populated by plants and volcanic rocks, allowing for the bach’s doors to be left open whatever the weather. The home is clad in cedar boards that continue through to the interior, blurring the distinction between outside and in.
Residential interior Gold Pin: Brooklyn Townhouse by DHD Architecture & Design
This townhouse in New York’s Park Slope was built in 1899 by the architect CPH Gilbert. Though not the property’s first renovation, this two-and-a half-year project, by Kiwi David Howell’s practice DHD, set out to modernise the home, adding a seventh wood-burning fireplace to the “true mansion” that contains seven bedrooms, five bathrooms and two powder rooms, and features gas chandeliers, stained-glass windows and a refurbished original Otis elevator. Other spectacular interior details include Venetian plaster, hand-painted murals with gold leaf detail and a private garden with a bluestone patio. Highlights of the incredible kitchen include two La Cornue stoves, a BlueStar professional oven, three sinks and dishwashers, and dumbwaiters leading to the butler’s kitchen.
Residential interior Silver Pin: Benson House by Bespoke Interior Design
A superb collection of contemporary art is the star of this show, and as such a light, fresh colour palette and layers of subtle texture were expertly selected to allow each piece to shine. The artworks are positioned to ensure at least one can be seen from any given point in the house, creating a gallery feel. The open-plan nature of the Auckland home necessitated that the furniture be flexible, too, so the team custom-designed a double-sided sofa with interchangeable pieces that forge a connection between the living, dining and outdoor areas. For the master bedroom, they designed a woollen bed and headboard, layered with white linen. The home office features full-height timber cabinetry with inset brass-handle detailing, and a desk that sits atop a marble base and is lit by a mid-century lamp.
Residential interior Silver Pin: Bleecker Street loft by DHD Architecture & Design
The contrast between old and new is the dominant characteristic of this New York loft, with the original 19th-century floor-to-ceiling arched windows the main event of the design. The space was gutted for the renovation and the existing mezzanine spaces demolished to create a layout that makes the most of the city views from these wonderful windows. Sleek, modern materials are used throughout the home, including marble slabs as a spectacular bathtub backdrop, benchtops and an impressive three-metre-long fireplace. Cove lighting adds to the contemporary feel, providing ambient lighting in the spacious rooms.
Residential interior Bronze Pin: 1920s New York deli-style kitchen/laundry by Encompass Ideas Interior Design
Here, the brief was for a kitchen that referenced the Wellington homeowners’ 1890s Victorian mansion and reflected their experiences of eating at chefs’ tables in several famous New York restaurants. Regular hosts of large functions, they required the key appliances to be out of sight and a second kitchen contained within a scullery. To restore the original architectural features of the space, ceiling beams and industrial 1920s light fittings were sourced. Aluminium doors with broad-reeded glazing and steel-rope handles add texture, and a hook-in ladder system provides easy access to the higher storage areas. The granite chef’s table is complemented by replica antique bronze stools.
Furniture design Gold Pin: KXN by IMO Group
KXN is a modular system designed to make upgrading a kitchen easy. The pre-configured base, tall, wall and island modules come apart easily for reassembly, and new components can be added.
Furniture design Bronze Pin: Cloak Cabinet by Studio Emma Fox
Here, traditional hard-material doors are replaced with magnetic cloaks made out of composite felt textile to absorb sound. The cabinet can be assembled without the use of tools, permanent fixings or glues, and specially mixed paint is used to maintain the integrity of the timber grain.
Lighting design Gold Pin: Navicula Light by David Trubridge
This piece takes inspiration from diatoms, a type of phytoplankton, and is designed to create magical patterns. Its skeletal form is crafted from bamboo plywood
and contains a concealed LED strip.
Lighting design Silver Pin: Frankie Pendant Torus by Designtree
The felt Frankie Pendant offers a system for manipulating both light and sound. Three modules – the pendant, an extension module and a corner module – combine to form myriad shapes and sizes.
Lighting design Silver Pin: Fin Pendant by Tim Webber Design
This light is comprised of an opaque acrylic diffuser and a solid metal ‘fin’, the rigid edges of the steel contrasting with the soft, warm glow of the plastic. The diffuser fits neatly into the droplet-shaped steel band and is attached with magnets.
Lighting design Bronze Pin: Nectar Lampshade by Designtree
Designed with sustainability and biomimicry in mind, this lampshade doesn’t require any glue or clips for its assembly. Its primary material is 100 percent recycled felt made from 90 percent post-consumer waste.