Unitec Interior Design students collaborate with Crestline to create new concepts for ABW

“Recognising the need is the primary condition for design”

A fine quote from design-hero Charles Eames. And a concept at the heart of the design challenge we set a group of final year interior design students at Unitec this year.

The students worked on a project designing a modular furniture system to support activity based working (ABW). This project dovetailed into their final year studio brief which was to design an office fit-out for either an existing NZ corporate or a coworking space.

Academic Leader for Unitec’s Diploma in Applied Interior Design, Sandra Arnet maintains “Understanding the new thinking around workplace design has become increasingly important for Interior Design graduates entering the industry”.

We couldn’t agree more.

Which is why we jumped onboard the idea of partnering with Unitec to enable practical projects such as this one to be undertaken. Plus it’s fun for us.


About the project

Crestline provided feedback and technical support for the students throughout the project and helped evaluate their designs. The students used our showroom for their presentations, we facilitated factory visits so the students could get an insight into the manufacturing process, and we supplied materials as well as introductions to our supplier network. Last but not least, we also provided the prize for the best design. The winning student received a Gustav portable toolbox/mobile desk organiser — the perfect ABW accessory.

Last week the winner was announced at Unitec’s GRADFEST prize giving ceremony.

And the winner was…. Georgia Hay with her modular seating design.

Jon, Gary and Diego were our judging team and here’s what they had to say about the project and competition.


What made the winning design special?

Georgia’s design was exactly the sort of piece the market is looking for when it comes to modular seating with the ability to be combined, re-arranged, and re-configured to facilitate different types of activity based working — be they collaboration, focus work, or casual break out spaces.


What were the main challenges for the students?

A good design has to meet a need or solve a problem. So that was challenge one — coming up with the idea. But after conceiving of the idea, the students were also faced with how to grow this seed of inspiration and turn it into a reality. They faced challenges around construction and fabrication, fabric choice and materials/finishes that would perform in the way they intended. And finally, the overall tests and trials to get their idea to work…or not.



What was the key advice you provided?

One of the key pieces of advice given to the students was — don’t get hung up on a particular aspect of the design if it’s not working. They need to be able to trust in the strength of the overall design, be willing to discard aspects of the design that aren’t working and keep moving forward with the rest of the design. In many cases, the innovations and alternatives they come up with through this process were better than the original design that caused the stress in the first place.


What happens next with the winning design?

Crestline has begun talks with both Georgia and Unitec about developing the idea into a full-scale prototype with the aim to add it to our range of ABW furniture on offer to the NZ market. Our first, “Designed by Georgia Hay” piece. Very exciting for everyone involved.



The future’s in good hands

Our judging team were very impressed with the level of imagination, innovation, and inspiration that went into the pieces from all the students, not to mention the level of detail in the scale models. Jon, Gary, and Diego were also pleased to see that a number of the students took on board the feedback and changed or altered their designs to incorporate this. It showed an ability to adapt without losing the overall concept and design intent.

We’re looking forward to working with Unitec again next year and can’t wait to see what the next group of students create!

“I cannot speak highly enough of the Crestline Team. They catered to our every need. They genuinely cared about the student’s experience and fully immersed themselves in the creative process. That sort of passion for great design is infectious”

– Sandra Arnet, Unitec.

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