Otago Polytechnic

Developing furniture for a range of purposes, Otago Polytechnic Product Design students have been working closely with local company Otago Furniture, which has been designing and manufacturing high-quality products in Dunedin since 1868.

Otago Polytechnic’s recent end-of year Student Showcase included a range of examples of  Product Design students’ focus on both the client and the end-user – or, in the case of chairs and couches, one might say the user’s end.

Recently, that client has comprised Otago Furniture.

A company with a rich history, Otago Furniture has successfully navigated more than 150 years of change, constantly evolving and adapting to meet the needs of its customers and society. It currently employs 24 expert craftspeople, and utilises state-of-the-art equipment.

Product Design Lecturer Tim Armstrong says Otago Polytechnic’s programme enables students to gain a deep understanding of what is involved in identifying new product opportunities within a company.

“The students develop concepts to address these opportunities, and communicate their process clearly and professionally to their client.

“They learn about what it takes to develop and manufacture products in New Zealand, and the opportunities and considerations this presents. They design and prototype compelling products within these boundaries.

“They also keep a record of the time spent in each phase, considering hourly work rates, invoicing and other elements of professional practice.”

Getting the elderly outdoors

Ruth Venediger has designed a chair with the specific intent of encouraging elderly people to spend more time outside.

“Users are taken through a custom-fitting process to personalise aspects of ergonomics and comfort specific to their needs,” Ruth says.

“It utilises computer-controlled manufacturing processes, and is designed to maximise material efficiencies and produce minimal waste.”

An Ottoman for the younger set . . .

Brianna Markham has designed a piece of furniture to be used by primary school children.

“The form and functional aspects of my design – the Oval Ottoman – consider social activities, storage for materials and resources, and ease of movement and re-configuration,” she explains.

“The current educational trend of flexible learning spaces underpins the design direction, in that the new furniture must be able to be used in multiple ways. Students can choose how and where they work within a classroom throughout the day, as this encourages both group and independent activities.”

. . . and an Ottoman for elsewhere

Matt T’eo’s inspiration for an Ottoman chair to be used indoors (lounges, libraries, restaurants, etc) comes from Pacifika culture.

“There are many types of Ottoman chairs with unique shapes, colours and materials. Most are in the shape of circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, pentagons, ovals or diamonds.

“This chair came from Pacific Island patterns or designs. The design I chose is called a ‘spearhead’, which symbolizes war, strength and family.”

Furniture for the new-born

Another second-year student, Zoe Morehu has designed “The Kahu Nest”, which is aimed at families with new-born babies.

“A strong bond between parents and babies in the early years has lifelong benefits for everyone,” Zoe explains. “The main priority is to support all whanau in welcoming a baby in a safe and loving way.

“The Kahu Nest can be used as both a bassinet and a co-sleeper. The adjustable height of the stand makes it suitable for a different range of bed heights and the flat-pack design makes it easy to transport and assemble.

“Parents are gifted The Kahu Nest for the first six months of their baby’s life. This system design is inclusive and accessible to all parents to use in their own domestic environments.”

A chair for the older generation

Second-year student Toni Linington’s starting point for her project was to research chair design in relation to the needs of the older person and those undergoing rehabilitation due to injury, illness or disability.

“New Zealand’s aging population is growing fast,” Toni says. “It is estimated that between 2011 to 2021 the elderly population is projected to grow by about 200,000.

“My aim was to design a chair that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional, with customisable features that address the common needs associated with age as well as specific health and mobility issues, increasing not only support and comfort but also promoting independence and well-being for the user.

“I have focused on an individual leg support that can be adjusted to raise the leg to different heights, providing comfort and supporting pressure areas in order to avoid further injury.

“The leg support can be easily moved out of the way so as not to restrict movement when moving from a sitting to standing position, unlike some traditional recliner chairs which require both legs to be raised, and when in the sitting position stop the feet moving backwards when rising which, restricts rather than aiding mobility.”

Read more about our Product Design programme




Published on 6 Dec 2019

Orderdate: 6 Dec 2019
Expiry: 31 Mar 2020