2017 Best Design Awards photography finalists announced

The finalists of the annual Best Design Awards, organized by the Designers Institute of New Zealand, have been announced. Hand-picked from a record breaking 1178 entries, the finalists represent the best graphic, interactive, image-based, spatial, and product design over the past year.

Over three days in Auckland, respected and experienced professionals from New Zealand and Australia judged the work, measuring it against the best in the world for originality, context, and execution.



Commercial litigation firm, Wilson Harle, commissioned Supply studio to create a set of portraits that would reflect the nature of the practice — honest and direct but not confrontational. The brief was to capture truthful, almost candid portraits of the people that make up the practice in order to create a personal connection with clients.

Supply wanted to convey gravitas and a sense of history. “We found inspiration in the work of Yousuf Karsh and his approach to portrait photography, moving away from the overt ‘smiley’ approach and letting the camera see the inside of their heads a little.”


Silo Theatre’s 2017 season launch coincided with the company’s 20th birthday. This called for an idea that celebrated the past as well as each of this season’s plays. Each image is part ghost, part emoticon, and part surreal landscape. For example, the classic theatre performance, A Streetcar Named Desire, contrasts a classic pose and drapery with a gradient ghost outfit and the word ‘LUST’ provocatively set over the face. The result is a colourful and surreal set of images that both embodies Silo Theatre’s theatrical ethos and celebrates its 20th anniversary with optimistic abandon.


Awa, When Two Rivers Collide was one of the largest locally produced works at the Auckland Arts Festival 2017. An original story by Moss Patterson, Awa brings Māori and Chinese contemporary dance together, along with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Osborne Shiwan’s role was to create a conceptual platform reflecting the many facets of Awa within a single campaign.

“Art direction of the imagery weaves a sense of grandeur and an embracing of Māori mythology. The resulting image — a pou-like pose iconic to the Atamira Dance Company — is sculptural, confrontational, and beautiful. Figures representing two cultures flow and collide to create something new.”


The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) protects New Zealand’s way of life by providing robust regulation on environmental matters. From cleaning products and food to transport and utilities, the Authority has a significant impact on the daily life of Kiwis and yet most of them are unaware of the work that it does.

Strategy Creative wanted to use photography to flip the traditional annual report into a ‘daily report’ showing the everyday impact that the EPA has on our lives. “A narrative woven throughout the report tells the stories behind the objects and substances that we interact with every day. The seemingly mundane is represented through a highly considered lens, pulling it out from the subconscious with thought-provoking imagery.”


TEDxWellington approached Strategy Creative with the theme of ‘perspective’ for this year’s event. They looked past obvious interpretations of speaker photographs in favour of a visual perspective that makes you think.

“Traditionally, speaker photographs are a forgettable introduction. Our approach was to make it pivotal to the identity with the singular idea of provoking thought. The photography was an opportunity to showcase the theme — perspective.”


Special Group was briefed to find a way to convey fashion brand R.M. William’s story, including its legacy and its place within modern Australian culture. They decided that the brand’s birthplace in the Outback needed to be explored in the imagery.

“We paid tribute to the unique, isolated, and beautiful landscapes that gave rise to the icon through a comprehensive series of aerial photographs. These were then mirrored and augmented by high-end fashion shots of the RM range to celebrate materials, colours, cuts and styles.”


Studio Kid You Not were engaged to create imagery for an online campaign that would engage youth with the challenges of global security and drive submissions to the Youth Ag-Summit to be held in Brussels, Belgium in October 2017.

“While the subject matter of global food security can feel gloomy and overwhelming, we chose bright and bold colour photography to paint an optimistic picture of the future and invite youth to be part of finding solutions to one of the world’s greatest challenges.”

Following the global campaign the number of essay submissions to attend the 2017 Youth Ag-Summit increased tenfold from the 2015 event.

A full list of finalists in each category can be viewed at bestawards.co.nz, with winners announced on Friday October 6.