My one year anniversary of moving to Hawke’s Bay has recently passed so I thought I’d take the chance to share my thoughts as a designer living in the region.

As a designer, it’s nice to be able to draw inspiration from your surroundings and to live somewhere that appreciates and recognises design. I’ve certainly visited a few banal places in New Zealand bereft of any design. Thankfully, Hawke’s Bay is a region oozing with design style.

A city re-imagined

In 1931, Hawke’s Bay suffered a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which devastated the region. Much of Napier’s CBD was destroyed. The city was rebuilt in the popular 20th-century style of that era – Art Deco. Napier is now known as the Art Deco Capital of the world and it is a style the region embraces and holds proudly.

Art Deco was a movement that represented the genesis of graphic design. It is a visual style that still remains popular for graphic designers with deco elements such as strong geometric shapes often displayed in a symmetrical arrangement, ancient Central American cultures, and the distinct typo-style.

Design in Hawke’s Bay has continued to be deeply inspired by the Art Deco aesthetic. While the deco themes are largely expressed through the architecture around Napier the style can also be seen in many street signs, logos, and posters. Businesses and organisations around the region have incorporated deco elements into their brand to evoke the style and harmonise with the region.

Low-waisted Art Deco style typeface used in Napier City Council’s logo & street signs in the CBD.

Growing community

While the Art Deco style is firmly embedded in the region and will continue to be celebrated, a more modern visual presence is beginning to emerge – a mix of deco meets new.

No longer do you have to choose between the job or lifestyle. As technology has allowed graphic designers and creative agencies to move out of the main cities the creative sector in the region is growing.  Ahuriri is fast becoming its very own Silicon Valley with a number of old woolsheds being converted into a tech hub and there are a number of design agencies scattered from Napier to Havelock North (represent!).

You have the likes of Black Dog – creative branding and identity specialists, Indelible – cinematography and video production experts, Tracta, and Band to name just a few. There is a feeling of camaraderie amongst design agencies in the bay and less of the knife-in-the-back, cut-each-other’s-lunches mentality. It’s not uncommon for us to collaborate with other agencies in the region. No doubt this is down to the fact that a lot of our clients, and I suspect others, are from outside of the region but I think the small town charm of looking out for each other also plays a part.

Interface design for our client Property Matrix in the USA

In terms of design education, it’s great to see EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology] attracting young creative students to the area. They offer a range of design programmes and degrees across different design fields including fashion and film. We have had two grads from EIT work for Mogul as full-time employees over the time and both have done fantastic work. You can see some of the work being produced by EIT students on the Ideaschool website.

Keep in the loop

With a growing creative collective building, the bay’s creative ability is now being unleashed.

For any outsiders who may want to become more engaged with the design around the Bay and general community happenings, I’d recommend reading BayBuzz, as well as of course following the Mogul blog, haha.