Visualising Kātoitoi Back to Discussion

05 May, 2021

Published by
Kate McGuinness

Studio South, in collaboration with the wider Kātoitoi team, developed the visual branding, motion graphics and website interface for the archive. Elliot Stansfield, Sam Southwell, Tom Pekkala and Jeremy Hooper share their creative journey with us so we can begin to understand the many moving parts behind the brand.

Studio South team 01

How did you get involved in this exciting pilot project and what was Studio South’s role?

Sam Southwell (Creative Director):
Design Assembly (DA) wanted to extend their community centric initiatives deeper and conceptualised a new platform guided by a brief they’d proposed to Creative New Zealand. DA and South had produced some awesome community centric outcomes/events in the 12 months prior which laid the foundation for DA to approach South with the opportunity to bring the Kātoitoi brief to life.

South were involved with the visualisation of the initial brand campaign and front-end web design. We were specifically excited about the unique intent and purpose of the project, but also the talented team DA had pulled together that had layers of specialist expertise. We warmed to this and were excited by what we could learn in the process. We were also grateful of the trust and freedom DA and Kātoitoi allowed us to explore throughout the design process – by bringing some pure graphic design thinking and structures to the platform’s brand system.

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What did your creative process look like?


We looked to create a timeless framework that could stand the test of time with work flowing into the archive. Our role extended into realising, and integrating all the input from the wider team of specialists into a cohesive whole, represented by the complex web product, campaign and animated expressions. The South team are proud of this work and the commitment to Aotearoa design culture.

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How did you arrive at the ten different discipline graphics, from static to moving?

Elliot Stansfield (Senior Designer):

The development of the campaign aesthetic was a really collaborative process with the wider team; Johnson McKay (Fly) and Karl Wixon (Arahia) had developed a strong foundation for the brand which gave us a real head-start in the campaign concept stage. We looked to get to the core of each subject through iterative exploration of form and graphic. Once we’d slimmed down the studies to a selection that felt fit for each discipline, we looked to tell more of their individual stories through short animated loops which eventually were combined into a full reel. Each of the executions looked to capture the essence of the craft and were reduced to two-tone graphics (black ink + archival paper off-white), relying heavily on use of space and composition. The resulting collection of graphics look to capture the boldness and clarity of the brand’s voice whilst making a nod to the function-centric characteristics of historic archives.

In regards to the website’s interface design, what challenges did you encounter?

Jeremy Hooper (Designer & Photographer):

A site like Kātoitoi is home to a lot of diverse content, so there’s always the challenge of ensuring that the design elements don’t compete with the various work. In saying that, the brand campaign has a really strong aesthetic so we aimed to maintain that throughout the site in a way that was complementary. We also wanted the journey from the physical and digital campaign to the website to feel fluid so it was important to treat the site as an extension of the brand and use the graphic elements in a similar way.

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What were some design principles you focused on when designing the user experience?


There was a big focus on the typographic hierarchy and consistency throughout which extended from the initial brand and campaign work. This began with the pairing of the two typefaces Söhne and Geograph in a way that gave them two different distinct roles on the site. Once we had figured out our typographic styles, our main focus was to ensure that each project could have visual impact when selected. This was achieved through the use of space and a neutral colour palette on project pages.

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How did you manage a project of this nature through to delivery?

Tom Pekkala (Project Director):

This project had a large team involved and that always makes the process harder to manage. However, as everyone on this project was very experienced, the team was very self-guided and didn’t really need too much direction for project delivery. After wireframing up the timeline of the campaign and digital production, the team had a clear vision and understanding of the deliverables and the schedule. So from a project management perspective, this project was very easy to produce.

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Going forward, what are your hopes for the archive?

All @studiosouthnz:
We hope the archive can be a place for designers to take pride in and learn about the unique and wide-ranging creative talent of Aotearoa.

Thanks to Creative New Zealand who funded the 2020 Kātoitoi pilot. This interview sits within a series of commissioned essays, interviews, podcasts and artworks to be published over 12 weeks supported by CNZ.

Studio South produced 11 artworks in animated and static form for the archive. Our master call and response then 10 to highlight the different discipline outputs:

  • Motion – Kori
  • Packaging – Pūhera
  • Publication – Pukapuka
  • Digital Design – Toi Matihiko
  • Environmental – Kaupapa Taiao
  • Identity – Tuakiri
  • Typography – Momotuhi
  • Self-initiated – Tāku kaupapa
  • Student – Ākonga
  • Campaign – Pānuitanga

Featuring Geograph & Söhne by Kris Sowersby (@klim_type_foundry).