New Zealand, Auckland, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) DESIS Lab

For Admission

Starts: 22 March, 2016
Duration :
Instructors: New Zealand, Auckland, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) DESIS Lab
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Email :


Name: Auckland University of Technology (AUT) DESIS Lab

City: Auckland

Country: New Zealand

Coordinator: Lisa McEwan,

Tel. +64 2 921 9999 # 8644

Address: Auckland University of Technology, School of Art and Design, 27 St Paul Street, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand.


Background and objectives:
AUT DESIS Lab has been established in 2011 at the Auckland University of Technology. The Lab is aligned with the Research Office of the School of Art and Design. The lab has members from all disciplines from the school and collaborates with other schools within the university, such as the School of Business and School of Engineering. Since its establishment, the Lab has helped to introduce and embed the theme of social innovation and sustainability within the learning and teaching practices within the school, and this theme currently constitutes a considerable part of the academic research activities at the school.

In 2014, the AUT DESIS Lab began running a new undergraduate minor course of study – Design for Sustainability. This new development offers students the opportunity to develop both specialist and interdisciplinary knowledge, and to work with other students from a range of disciplines across the school. The course is of 3-year duration.

The introductory paper provides students with an overview of various sustainability constructs. Students have the opportunity to engage with a range of local change-agents currently working in sustainability areas such as transport, voting, renewable energy, textiles, inner city communities, and local food. Field trips have exposed the students to indigenous cultures (offering alternative world views), and strategies for local community-based food initiatives. The students are encouraged to work in groups and to use collaborative design thinking and to engage in practice.

We also collaborate with a range of local communities and organizations, including the Auckland City Council, to whom we regularly provide advice and guidance on a broad range of issues that call for social change.

Our primary objectives are to:

  • Create new learning opportunities for our students by embedding social innovation and sustainability in the curriculum
  • To consolidate the research-active staff of the School of Art and Design that work in the areas related to design for social innovation towards sustainability
  • Increase research output of the school in the area of design-led social innovation
  • Increase awareness about design-led social innovation within the public
  • Engage in international collaborative projects with other DESIS Labs.

Primary research areas and activities:

  • Sustainable Energy Management
  • Sustainable Fashion and Textiles
  • Local Food
  • Eco-Design and System Biodiversity
  • Social and Creative Entrepreneurship
  • Community Healthcare
  • Indigenous Cultures
  • Sustainable Narratives and Performances
  • Inner City Communities
  • Public Transport
  • Voting
  • Sustainable Consumption
  • Sustainable Behavior

Selected projects and research:

1. Urban Ecologies Lab (
‘Urban Ecologies Lab utilizes practice-led research to explore issues of ecology, indigeneity, and urbanism. This lab works with partners to co-create near-future design speculations and public events as affirmative thinking and engagement tools that envision, scaffold or perform change towards a low carbon, ecological urbanism. Central to their method is the development of speculative near-future design visualizations and the deployment of events or installations as critical tools for initiating transformative systems, spaces and events. The visualizations aim to open up a positive space to envision and enact alternate futures, while the performance work acts as another affirmative engagement strategy.

They connect people and ideas through events [workshops, public talks, exhibitions, installations, Biennial], publications, and their website which promotes their research. The website lenses the different themes, methods, timeframes and modes of the projects and acts a means to visualize the qualities and complex relational webs between the various works.

AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Amanda Yates (Director)
  • Fleur Palmer
  • Albert Refiti
  • Natalie Robertson
  • Rachel Shearer
  • Dr Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul

2. Health and Wellbeing Lab (
The Design for Health and Wellbeing Lab works in collaboration between the School of Art and Design and the Auckland District Health Board. Design for Health and Wellbeing has been initiated with the vision of developing an intentional relationship between design process and the area of health and wellbeing. The lab is structured on a project-by-project basis and is underpinned by interdisciplinary collaboration and a strong focus on user-centered design.
AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Dr Stephen Reay (Director)
  • Nick Hayes
  • Reid Douglas
  • Neerali Parbhu
  • Lauren Hyland

3. Creative Common Occupation (
Creative Common Occupation (CCO) is a group of recent fashion and textile design graduates from Auckland University of Technology. The collective is working together to produce design-led, quality local product; exploring new commercialization strategies to enable them to thrive as creative practitioners.

AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Linda Jones (Director)

4. Sustainable Fashion
Leather, as a lucrative co-product of the global meat industry, has significant environmental impacts – both greenhouse gas emissions (animals) and habitat destruction (land use for animal feed). Each of these impacts has social ramifications (effects of climate change). Industrialized processing of animals for meat and leather has also been linked to other detrimental social effects, including the carriage if antibiotic resistant pathogens by meat workers, and increased levels of anti-social behaviors by slaughterhouse workers. Lisa McEwan is currently researching the reasoning and decision-making processes that designers use when developing designer goods (such as high-end footwear); what part the choice of materials play in those decisions; and whether sustainability and/or ethics are included in designers decision-making processes.

AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Lisa McEwan (Principle Investigator)

5. The Mammalian Species Control
The Mammalian Species Control project is an interdisciplinary, AUT, University of Auckland and Lincoln University, long term research project that addresses biodiversity issues caused by the introduction of mammals into New Zealand’s unique ecosystems. The impacts of these introduced inhabitants may be best illustrated through the impact on the bird population. While early settlers to New Zealand often reported on the impressiveness of the ‘dawn chorus’ reflecting the aural abundance of birdcalls, over 40% of the pre-human land bird species are now extinct, and the proportion of birds classed as threatened is now proportionally one of the highest in the world.

AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Shane Inder (Principle Investigator)

6. Journal of Design, Business & Society (,id=244/)
The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a cross-disciplinary peer-reviewed scholarly journal that publishes high-quality academic papers that examine design from qualitative, quantitative, visual, or applied research perspectives. Our mission is to promote transdisciplinary approach to research in design, and we are interested in studies that examine design in all its multifaceted forms, and from a range of platforms—whether they are social, environmental, commercial or educational in nature. We are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research in design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, social sciences, environmental sciences, and so on.

AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Dr Gjoko Muratovski (Editor-in-Chief)

7. International Journal of Food Design (,id=246/)
The International Journal of Food Design (IJFD) is the first academic journal entirely dedicated to Food Design research and practice. We aim at creating a platform for researchers operating in the various disciplines that contribute to the understanding of Food Design.
Although the journal is open towards different background disciplines, knowledge and expertise, it only focuses on collecting any Food Design-related research outcome: research that somehow combines food and Design. We define Food Design as simply the discipline that connects food and Design: Design applied to food and eating, or food and eating investigated from a Design perspective. In other words, among all knowledge on food and eating, we look at research where Design has an important role, and among all knowledge on Design, we look at research that focuses on aspects of food or eating.

Connecting food and Design of course means connecting any aspect of food with any aspect of Design. For this reason, the International Journal of Food Design is interested in pushing the boundaries of research that connect aspects from Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Food Science, Food Culture, and any other food discipline, with aspects from Design Theory, Design Education, Industrial Design, Design History, and any other Design discipline.

Connecting Food and Design can also mean looking at how Design is or can be used in all aspects of the eating experience. The eating experience is the process that transforms stimuli of an eating situation into emotions, knowledge and ultimately memories. The stimuli are many, and analysing them is a complex issue. Here we are interested in looking at how Design can be applied to the control of such stimuli, and therefore, to the control of the different aspects influencing the eating experience. The aspects influencing the eating experience can be grouped into those related to food itself, those related to the eating environment, those related to the relationship between people eating together, those related to the atmosphere, and those related to management, marketing, distribution and manufacturing. We look at how Design is applied to the control of such stimuli surrounding any type of food: food eaten at a restaurant, in a coffee shop, or at the cinema, food that comes in a packaging or on a plate, food eaten during physical exercise, food eaten in a space station, food connected to religion, culture or celebrations, etc.

How is Design used to influence or modify any of the aspects influencing the eating experience? What Design methods, processes or theories apply to the design of food or of the eating situation? How should we teach Design methods, process of theories applied to the design of food or eating situation? And more: is there a scope for a sub-discipline called Food Design History? Is there a space worth exploring between Food History and Design History? Between Food Culture and Design Culture? Is there a scope for a sub-discipline called Food Design Thinking? Is there a scope for Design methods and process particularly designed for Food Design? These are some of the questions that the articles collected by the IJFD aim to answer.

AUT Staff involved with this project include:

  • Dr Francesca Zampollo (Editor-in-Chief)

Project presentation in the prescribed format:

  • Creative Common Occupation: Supporting Creative Practice (.ppt attached)

Selected Bibliography:

Blackie, H. M., MacKay, J. W., Allen, W. J., Smith, D. H., Barrett, B., Whyte, B. I., … & Eason, C. T. (2014). Innovative developments for long‐term mammalian pest control. Pest management science, 70(3), 345-351.
Diegel, O., Singamneni, S., Reay, S., & Withell, A. (2010). Tools for Sustainable Product Design: Additive Manufacturing. Journal of Sustainable Development. 3(3), 68 – 75.
Inder, S., Reay, S., & Withell, A. J. (2012). Authentic Learning Opportunities for Sustainable Design Curriculum Informed by Interdisciplinary Staff Research. In Designed Asia, 2012. Hong Kong. Retrieved from
Palmer, F. (2011). Biodiversity and the Ordinary. Ultra Local: Design Proposals for the Kaipatiki Project Environment Centre. 2-3.
Palmer, F. (2011). “Biodiversity and the Ordinary” in Ultra Local: Design Proposals for the Kaipatiki Project Environment Centre [Exhibition Catalogue]. 2-3. Auckland, NZ: Department of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland.
Palmer, F. (2011, August). Mapping Conflict: Alienation and Māori Land. Auckland University of Technology.
Reay, S., & Withell, A. (2011). How Can Rapid Product Development Support Sustainable Product Design Research? NZ Rapid Product Development Conference, 2011. Auckland University of Technology, February 7 and 8, 2011.
Reay, S.D., Withell, A., & Diegel, O. (2010). Design for Biodiversity: A New Approach for Ecologically Sustainable Product Design? Transitions to Sustainability: 4th International Conference on Sustainability Engineering and Science, 29th November – 3 December 2010, Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Reay, S., Withell, A., Diegel, O., & Charlton, N. (2010). The Development of Ecologically Beneficial Products Through Interdisciplinary Science and Design Collaboration. ConnectEd 2010 – 2nd International Conference on Design Education, Australia, 28 June – 1 July, 2010.
McEwan, L. (2013, November). Fashion Sense: Participation and Co-design for Socially Sustainable Fashion. Presented at the Cumulus: More for Less – Design in an Age of Austerity. Dublin, Ireland.
McEwan, L., Moore, R., Brown, M., Jacobs, L., & Cleveland, D. (2013, October). Sustainable Fashion: The Complexities, Challenges and Opportunities. Presented at The Cloud, Auckland, New Zealand.
Muratovski, G. (2014, November). Keynote Address: Sustainable Consumption in an Aspirational Economy. International Conference: Design for a Billion, Indian Institute of Technology, 7-9 November 2014. Ahmedabad, India.
Muratovski, G. (2014). Sustainable Consumption: Luxury Branding as a Catalyst for Social Change. In M. A. Gardetti and A. L. Torres (Eds.). Sustainable Luxury: Managing Social and Environmental Performance in Iconic Brands. (pp.68-79). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.
Muratovski. G. (2013). Advertising, Public Relations and Social Marketing: Shaping Behaviour Towards Sustainable Consumption. In R. Crocker and S. Lehmann (Eds.). Motivating Change: Sustainable Design and Behaviour in the Built Environment (pp. 178-197). London: Routledge.
Muratovski, G. (2012, March). “The Fall of Social Marketing”. In Muratovski, G. (Chair), Sustainability and Behaviour Change. Seminar conducted at the Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, in association with Routledge.
Yates, A. (2012). City Pop-Up Garden [timber frames, planted with food plants].