Design Review (publication)

Design Review was a publication of the Wellington Architectural Centre. The Centre was founded in 1946, and began the first architectural school in Wellington (1947) and the first town planning school in New Zealand (1949). The Centre was unique at the time of its founding in that it invited members interested in a broad range of design and the arts, rather than restricting membership to professional architects and architectural students. Internationally it is one of the oldest organisations of its type.


Philosophy and Scope

The Centre began the two-monthly publication of Design Review in 1948. The journal addressed design topics as broad as furniture, town planning, theatre and stage design, packaging, church design, book-binding, poster design, industrial design and of course architecture. It hence reflected the Centre's interest in architecture, design and the arts in the broadest sense and was the first journal of its kind in New Zealand. The editorial of April/May 1949 explicitly asked the question "What is Design Review?" answering this by stating that:

"Like everything that has to do with the arts, design cannot be tested for its quality in a laboratory ... The elusive quality that a consensus of opinion agrees to call good design is not to be defined in terms like an axiom in geometry ... So we will leave the making of formulas and rules to those who like that sort of thing ... we shall publish in each number a discussion on some particular object; a house, a chair, a teapot or what have you. The contributor will tell you his or her opinion about the merits or demerits of the way that thing is designed, omitting any waving of the big stick to lay down laws of design. It is for you to decide if you think they are right."


Contributors included Doreen Blumhardt, Helen Hitchings, E.H. McCormick, Odo Strewe, William Toomath, Gordon F. Wilson, Anna Plischke, film maker John O'Shea, writer Alan Mulgan, and photographers John Pascoe and Irene Koppel. Editors of the journal included architects Ernst Plischke, Maurice Patience, and Al Gabites, and well-known artists E. Mervyn Taylor, and Eric Lee-Johnson. The final issue of Design Review was in 1954.


Recently the entire run of the magazine was digitised by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (a unit of the library at Victoria University of Wellington) and can be viewed online.


Marriage, Guy "Doing each other's thing " Architecture New Zealand (Jan/Feb 2005) n.1, p.78-79.

"What is Design Review?" Design Review (April/May 1949) v. 1, n. 6, p. 2.

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