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Exploring the opportunities for moving from craft to design with the emergence of high technologies in a New Zealand context
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The crafts are a threatened field. There is a limit to the amount of work a craftsperson can produce with their hands. As overheads constantly rise, many eventually fail to cover their costs. Industry experts advise craftspeople to either partner with industry or move into the field of design. Currently there is a strong high-technology sector emerging in New Zealand. Kotuku explores the opportunities for moving from craft to design with the emergence of high technologies in a New Zealand context. Last year, having come from a craft/architecture background, I designed a light fitting (Kotuku) which creatively explored the tension between art, craft, technology and design. One of the projects aims was position merino as a luxury natural fibre, sustainably produced from our natural environment and marketed under the “Brand New Zealand” story. Seamless knitting technology, when informed by art, architecture and design thinking provided an opportunity to do this. It was hoped that the project would help inspire New Zealand to move away from being a wool commodity exporter to an exporting nation of high added value quality fibre products. This year I explore the opportunities to commercialise a lighting range. I use Kotuku as a vehicle to explore what opportunities there are for me and other designers, particularly those moving from craft to design, in the early stages of our careers. Action research was used as the overarching research strategy in this practice based design research project. Extensive literature reviews and interviews with leading industry and academic experts were undertaken to determine the capability limits of knitting technologies and the opportunities to commercialise this product. An extensive series of practical collaborative experiments were undertaken to incorporate these themes.