Kieran Stowers, one of the EmpowerNZ participants and a designer at both the LongTermNZ and LivingStandardsNZ workshops, has done a simply amazing job combining design, food and a constitutional conversation. I went to the opening of the exhibition of the 2013 Masters of Design students at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts and was simply blown away. Kieran’s thesis project was a designed ‘potluck dinner party toolkit’ – a beautifully crafted kit designed to encourage a discussion about New Zealand’s constitutional preamble between guests. Guests are invited to discuss New Zealand’s history, its future and what values or principles should guide New Zealand society in the 21st century, which they then write or draw on the Utopian Ingredients tablecloth. As the night progresses these words or drawings move inwards as shared goals and desires for New Zealand’s constitution became apparent. Taking participants from the outside in, from the personal to a shared common ground. This can be seen in the final table cloths – are few which are photographed below. The table cloths are fascinating and are literally pieces of art. I was also impressed with the kit he made up for each table, the box has been had made and the booklets are so well considered and well delivered.
As Kieran explains:
‘Using food as a conduit for community engagement, the designed dinner set questions, provokes, engages and guides participants to establish their own preamble concepts by sharing the positive memories, feelings, thoughts, beliefs and desires they hold. Utopian Ingredients searches for robust discussion about how and what New Zealand’s constitutional preamble could express’.
Kerian’s work has gained international interest, he is off to Oslo Norway on the 26th June to present his masters work to an international audience – the New Zealand Studies Association International Conference is working in collaboration with the Norwegian Maritime Museum – who are celebrating the centenary of crossing of the Kontiki.
Both Hannah Steiner and Ryan Gallagher from the Institute felt honoured to be dinner guests. To check out Kieran’s project, and the other Masters of designs students, go along to the exhibition being held in adjacent buildings: Te Ara Hihiko, The Engine Room gallery and Block 1 at Massey University, Wellington, Entrance C off Wallace Street. The exhibition is open to the public from 12-5pm daily until the 15th of February.