An innovative knitwear collection that challenges current binary gender fashion norms has taken out the ECC Supreme Award at this year’s ECC Student Craft Design Awards.

AUT Master of Creativity student Daniel Collings’ Bound by Binary collection used a technique the judges called “striking” and “clever”, with a four-colour digital-knit that appears to be another fabric from a distance.

Daniel says of the capsule collection: “...through incorporating existing gender expression markers, physical construction techniques, and digital-knit manipulation, the work mashes together the masculine with the feminine allowing for the spectrum of gender to stand out and be celebrated within singular garments.”

They took home a prize of $2,000 and also won the Friends of the Dowse fashion category valued at $1,000.

The ECC NZ Student Craft Design Awards are run by the Friends of the Dowse, and uniquely offer awards for tertiary students in multi-discipline work across both craft and design. The awards are open to all New Zealand tertiary students with categories including ceramic, illustration, fashion, jewellery, product, furniture, lighting, and surface design, with two special awards, L’affare Innovation in Sustainability and People’s Choice.

Normally held at a ceremony at The Dowse Art Museum, the awards were held digitally due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 restrictions. Students entering this year’s awards have had the challenge of studying with the uncertainties of Covid-19, but the judges said they were impressed with the high quality of the work entered.

Awards director Heather Crichton says this year was the biggest group of finalists they have ever had. “The awards are in their 35th year and although we've had to deal with Covid, we are glad to see that students have pushed through and submitted entries. We are excited to showcase the work of all 27 finalists at an exhibition at The Dowse in Lower Hutt from this Saturday.”

The 2021 judging panel included an international judge for the first time, renowned British designer Tom Dixon who judged the lighting design and furniture design categories. He joined lighting design/consultant at ECC Anita Dykes, owner of The Village Goldsmith Ian Douglas, Layplan fashion designer and previous award winner Talia Soloa, textile graphics designer Genevieve Packer, The Dowse Art Museum director Karl Chitham, illustrator/artist Bill Carden-Horton, and furniture and product designer with Proffer and Custance George MacLeod-Whiting.

The Dowse Ceramics Award was won by Angus Horne of Victoria University’s Master of Architecture programme for his work Of the Land. His project employs digital fabrication within customary Māori craft to create ceramic 3D printed pou which embody local Māori culture and explore innovative fabrication processes, a process judge Karl Chitham said: “went back to carver from whenua.” Angus gifted the piece to his iwi in Northland.

Bachelor of Design with Honours student at Massey University Thomas Mackisack won the ECC Product Design Award for Aqua Stack, a children’s toy that combines the traditional block building toy with water play. The judges called it “well-resolved child’s play building blocks with a unique idea to include water as part of the play.”

The Village Goldsmith Jewellery Award went to Jan Dobbie, a Bachelor of Visual Arts student at Otago Polytechnic. Her collection Subperbs included two necklaces and one bangle, all from found wood and procured assortments of cordage, in a design the judges said: “answered the brief well”.

AUT University design student Kendra Smith’s Blu’s Back Pack is an illustrative and informative picture book which follows along with the character Blu who has autism. The book won the Tuatara Illustration Design Award and the judges said it “articulated the difficulties of the subject in a charming way.”

The Friends of The Dowse Surface Design Award, a new award introduced last year, includes textile design, pattern design, architectural surfaces and wall and floor coverings. It was won by Massey University design student Laura Graham for her work Leopard Rug Vest. Using historic punch needling techniques and second-hand materials, the vest mimics the status symbol of taxidermy in the home.

Andrew Roberts, a postgraduate student at Victoria University, won the ECC Furniture Design Award for his Anamnesis Furniture, created through unconventional VFX digital techniques and additive manufacturing capabilities. Special guest judge Tom Dixon said it had a lot of “energy and originality in a conceptual piece of furniture. It was good to see the process of making and the combination of low tech making and digital processing.”

The ECC Lighting Design Award went to a group studying industrial design at Massey University’s Wellington School of Design for their B1 Task Lamp. The group, led by Kelly Harman, created a faceted timber form with integrated luminaire, adjustable for task and ambient lighting, presented as a three-component elegant composition. Tom Dixon said it had a “polished design, high quality of engineering & natural materials with a technical twist.”

The L’affare Innovation in Sustainability Award Winner was won by AUT student Molly Whitehead, for her Sustainable In-Tent garments made entirely from old tents destined for landfill. Judge Genevieve Packer said there was room to grow them into a collection.

And finally, the People’s Choice award, voted by the public, was won by AUT University student Rosa Watson for her work Plant The Seed, a section-bound sixty-page publication printed on a Risograph, with hand-made harakeke paper.

The winning designs will be available to view at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt in a free exhibition from 13-25 November.

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