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Hawke’s Bay Arboretum Takes On Design Students’ Ideas

September 26, 2012

Gathered around the presentation board featuring the winning logo design are, from left, lecturer Anthony Chiappin, David Allan from the Guthrie Smith Trust and lecturer Jerry Gull.

Design input by EIT students is being used in branding the arboretum at Tutira as a tree park of international significance.

Responding to an approach by the Guthrie Smith Trust, 22 second-year Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design students undertook a branding project for the 90ha arboretum in northern Hawke’s Bay.

Farmed by the late Herbert Guthrie-Smith, the land was gifted to the trust in 1942 by the environmentalist’s daughter Barbara Absolom for an educational and recreational centre.

The trust is developing the arboretum as a repository of tree species from all over the world and plans opening it more widely to the public, the scientific community and school groups. It also sees considerable potential for promoting the area as a tourist destination.

The EIT students’ project-based learning exercise generated wide-ranging design concepts encompassing logo designs, signage, picnic tables, educational material, track map leaflets, car park layout and a building to house a visitor information and education centre.

One student, working independently of four teams of classmates, delivered a Maori perspective on Tutira and Guthrie-Smith which trust deputy chairman David Allan said would be among the ideas used. The Maori history “is something we really want to incorporate in the centre.”

“We were very sincerely blown away by what you did,” he told the students at the project debriefing. “It was just fantastic and didn’t make it any easier coming to a conclusion.”

While the trust is still distilling branding ideas, Allan said the Guthrie Smith Tutira logo would feature a design created by one of the student groups.

“Initially we had said emphatically that the logo was not up for debate. It has been debated and it will change. That says a lot in itself.”

The trust unanimously favoured one of the student team concepts for the arboretum’s proposed visitor information centre.

“Feedback from an architect was that it could be an expensive structure. It was also suggested that the design might include elements from the original Guthrie-Smith homestead.”

Signage developed by another group was also favoured – “but we have no costings for that yet”.

Triggering the branding exercise, the trust approached EIT’s School of Arts and Design to explore interest in students designing signs for the arboretum. Lecturers proposed widening the brief to make it a real-world branding assignment.

After their initial presentations, the student groups were invited to use the trust’s feedback to fine-tune designs for their final submissions.

In making a donation to the School of Arts and Design, Allan said the trust wanted to acknowledge the value of the student involvement in the branding exercise. Head of School Dr Suzette Major said the money would be used to further promote the relationship between EIT and the trust.

“The branding collateral for the arboretum could involve the School of Arts and Design for a very long time,” lecturer Anthony Chiappin said. “I can see this having the potential to unfold over the next 20 years.