Otago Polytechnic
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Take a seat

A design student's award-winning bench incorporates Maori design principles.

For Tania Turei (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) it makes sense to go beyond common perceptions of Maori design in her own work. In her third year of Product Design study in 2017, she was inspired by features of Maori carving and architecture which she interpreted and embedded in her furniture design - the curvature of the legs, the linear pattern, the negative detail and the way the furniture "hugs the earth''. She says:

"The New Zealand product design aesthetic is sometimes missing a natural Maori viewpoint that makes us unique in the world."

Working in our EPICentre workshop studio with technicians Ken Wyber and William Early as well as her lecturers, Tania designed and built a bench and two stools. She called her seating pae, a Māori word meaning horizon or anything horizontal.

This product won a gold award in the Student Ngā Aho section in the 2018 Best Design Awards. The judges loving the simplicity and modularity of the laminated wooden bench, which they described as having “some subtle cultural references to manaia and a haka stance”.