An annual collection of design, Kātoitoi the Aotearoa Design Archive seeks to capture, curate and map design practice and practitioners in Aotearoa. Kātoitoi collects representations of Aotearoa now, as seen through the lens of our designers and studios. Together, they help shape our design history and contribute to our national discourse.

In te reo Māori, Kātoitoi has two relevant meanings. It is a verb meaning “to respond”, which speaks to the dialogue the archive seeks to encourage between designer and medium, between work and audience, between the individual and the national.

Kātoitoi is also the name of the South Island Robin, a small inquisitive bird with a loud voice - the perfect representation of New Zealand design. Our design community is small but speaks with a large, brave voice that reverberates throughout the world.

“Kātoitoi, he iti te rahi, he nui te kōrero”. Kātoitoi - whilst it may be small, its voice is large.

Our Kaupapa

Kātoitoi is a diverse representation and discussion of what our community is creating at a given point in time. Review and response are an integral part of the Kātoitoi kaupapa. We invite your dialogue and participation. We aim to collect work that says something about our practice, who we are (both as a design community and as a nation), the ideas, movements and distinctive aspects of Aotearoa design today. The archive charts the role and impact of design on our society and culture through interviews, critical essays and artworks as we collectively examine, discuss, and celebrate our body of work.

All Aotearoa-based design studios and practitioners can submit work to Kātoitoi.

Kātoitoi strives to be;

  • Accessible
  • Active
  • Collaborative
  • Diverse
  • Inclusive
  • Honest
  • Rigorous
  • Relevant
  • Respected
  • Responsible

Our People

The Aotearoa Design Archive is a Design Assembly initiative. Kātoitoi was co-founded by Louise Kellerman and Nicole Arnett Phillips in 2020. Funding support from Creative New Zealand enabled the 2020 pilot. Karl Wixon (Arahia), Johnson McKay (Fly), Studio South, New Territory and Mark Easterbrook, shaped the project in a co-design process with the founders.

Our contributing writers are;
Karl Wixon (Arahia), Mark Easterbrook (Words & Ideas), Kate McGuinness, Lee Parkinson (Strategy Creative), Kerry Ann Lee (Massey CoCA), Nicole Arnett Phillips.

Our visual contributors are;
Izzy Joy, Carol Green, Joe Carrington, Bonnie Brown, Lisa Baudry and Lucie Blaževská.

Our inaugural review panel is;
Adeline Marteil (Atelier Marteil), Ange Thorne (Fox&Co), Clem Devine (Jasmax), Emma Kaniuk (Akin), Fiona Grieve (Threaded & AUT), Jordan Foster (Wintec), Kyra Clark (Threaded), Maria Deveraux (Colenso BBDO), Matt Grantham (Onfire Design), Nick Kapica (Isthmus), Nico Speziali (Fox&Co), Phyo Thu (Fox&Co), Tana Mitchell (Akin), Tim O’Neill (Plato Creative) and Trudi Hewitt.

Our Process

After the submissions window closed, the panel of design leaders evaluated each design based on the projects social significance, innovation, craft, process and kaupapa; particularly where work departs from technical, visual or philosophical norms.

Each of our panellists reviewed and ranked work across three (of 10) output categories. Assessing against four specific criteria driven by the Archive's vision and values:

  • – Does this project demonstrate mastery or innovation of craft in the chosen outcome?
  • - Does this project advance our design practice or discourse?
  • - Does this project have influence and or impact outside of the design community?
  • - Does this project deliver against the selected Kaupapa?

Reviewers were asked to evaluate each project objectively, online in isolation. A minimum of three reviewers assessed each category to ensure an equitable and fair review process. Having multiple reviewers per category enabled them to abstain from assessing work where they may have a potential conflict of interest.

Each annual Kātoitoi collection includes the design artefacts with the highest cumulative scores in each category.

Our Vision

As the archive builds year by year, Kātoitoi will explore our people, culture and social development through the lens of design.

The 2020 pilot includes

A digital home to discuss, research and exhibit Aotearoa design work.

  • – Peer-reviewed artefacts (with physical and digital objects collected)
  • – 19 interviews and profiles
  • – 12 critical essays
  • – 31 visual response artworks mapping the people, themes and outputs
  • – 31 visual response artworks mapping the people,
  • themes and outputs.
  • – A directory of design contributors for the curated work.

There is huge potential to develop and evolve the project and we are actively investigating options to iterate, expand and advance Kātoitoi, ensuring this is a project with longevity, delivering value to our community today and into the future.

Our Voice

The archive is a resource created for designers by designers. Kātoitoi is our collective voice.

Audibly we are represented by the call of the South Island Robin. The Kātoitoi call was captured by Les Mcpherson who graciously permitted us to use the song. “Male Kātoitoi song, Newcombes Robertson Road Lewis Pass, August 1973, 0650 Dawn, Les McPherson”

Visually our voice is represented by Geograph and Söhne, designed by Kris Sowersby.