Aotearoa art and design communities, friends and whanau, farewell design legend Nanette Cameron, who died peacefully on 13 April 2023.

As reported in Architecture Now, "Cameron has undoubtedly changed the face of design in this country."

Graduating with a Home Science degree from the University of Otago in 1945 and commencing her interior design career in Auckland in the 1950s, Nanette then turned her focus to teaching and writing on interior design. In 1967, she commenced her courses, initially as a night class at Tamaki College. In 1975 these classes became the Nanette Cameron School of Interior Design, one of the country's first courses in interior design - which continue today, under the same name, at Te Tuhi.

A tribute from Objectspace describes how "t​hese classes became life changing for the women who attended them, as Nanette taught not only the history and principles of design, but also self-confidence and independence. One of the drives in her teaching was the belief that if you educate a woman, you educate a family."

Alongside fellow founder, Iris Fisher, Nanette played a major role in the formation of the Pakuranga Arts Society in the late 1960s, the forerunner of Te Tuhi. Their joint vision saw the Pakuranga Community and Cultural Centre open in 1975 and the Fisher Gallery in 1984, and would later see the two entities merge in 2000 to become Te Tuhi.

​​ In 2013 the Objectspace exhibition Nanette Cameron: Objectspace Master of Craft and publication Nanette Cameron: Interior Design Legend (both created by the curatorial team of Kirsty Cameron, Katie Lockhart and Viv Stone and produced by Objectspace) recognised her achievements as an industry legend.

In 2016, at the age of 88, Nanette retired from teaching but her legacy lives on through Te Tuhi and the Nanette Cameron School of Interior Design. The school continues to be run out of Te Tuhi today, with her fundamental principles remaining at the core of their teaching.

Nanette was a founding member, and now honorary member, of the Designers Institute of New Zealand, and was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2004 for her contribution to her community. At the 2019 Interior Awards, she received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, at which the jury acknowledged "Cameron’s prowess as an interior designer and educator has seen her work take on something of a legendary status, as if mythologised under the sheer weight of her enduring influence."

Te Tuhi and the The Nanette Cameron School of Interior Design share the impact of her vision, reflecting that "Nanette has become an icon to successive generations who owe their knowledge of good design to her teaching. She has opened the eyes and minds of thousands of students to the possibilities that knowledge of art and design can offer for the enrichment of life."

IMAGE: Nanette Cameron, photo by Wayne Martin, Times Newspapers Ltd. Courtesy of Te Tuhi.