New Zealand

Money, Money, Money.


Why is it that almost all foreign currency looks so much better than the American dollar? I’m not bashing the buck, but from a design perspective, to me foreign currency is simply more visually interesting than the American greenback. Case in point, the currency of the year awarded by The International Bank Note Society for the New Zealand for its $5 polymer note. The design features the face of New Zealand native mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, with a backdrop of Mount Cook and, a yellow-eyed penguin seemingly printed with what looks like metallic gold foil.

Now, with that said, I don’t think this is an award winning piece of design in the true sense. It is busy, and burdened with an abundance of imagery, and various patterns, but if you look at it in terms of a contemporary painting or print, it’s quite successful. I know that the reason for the patterns, color, overprints, and such are due to security issues and a need to foil counterfeiters, but this is something I might hang on a wall, and that is often the case for foreign currency with me. I’m not going to do that with American currency.

For more about the competition you can find it in this article at along with a video. And below are some additional curency examples.









AIG and All The Blacks

This is what happens when you put a top notch designer and animator together. They create a visual feast for your eyes. The video below features the design work of Penny Dombroski, and the skilled animation of  Tom McCarten. Through well timed animation cycles, clean simple graphics, and a well written script, the two of them manage to take what could be a fairly boring topic; (AIG Financial restructuring and sponsoring a rugby team), and make it into something you might actually want to watch to the very end. Really, really nice work.

These Will Take Your Breath Away.

If you have a 4K monitor, I suggest you watch the two videos below on it. If not at least watch them full screen on the highest definition monitor you have like your computer screen. Why because the detail, and color depth of these two time lapse films from   will blow you away. Oh you might want to check your bank account for any extra cash, because after you watch these you are going to want to go to New Zealand. These are absolutely beautiful.

Sled Tech. Stealth X from Snolo.

With Kansas City getting ready for its first major snowfall of the season, I thought I would do a little research on the advances made in sled technology. The last time I looked into sled tech was 3 years ago. Since then, some folks down in New Zealand have created a carbon fiber stealth sled; the Stealth X, by Snolo Sleds.

This high performance carbon fiber sled can hit speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, and can be maneuvered with precision under a variety of snowy and icy conditions. The carbon fiber construction is extremely light and strong. The design allows it to be carried like a backpack, which allows any back country explorer to have a little sledding fun on their deep country trek.

None of this sled tech comes cheap though. Stealth X will set you back $2500.00 plus shipping, so you better really be into sledding if you’re thinking about pulling the trigger on this one.



BabyX Redefining Artificial Intelligence.

Here we are, one step closer to artificial intelligence that actually has potential. BabyX was introduced to the public at the TEDx conference at TEDxAuckland. The project is the creation of New Zealander Mark Sagar, and from what I have seen in the video below it sounds pretty impressive. BabyX is able to interact and react to the world around it. BabyX also has the ability to learn, store, retrieve and modify learned information over time which allows it to mimic the actions and interactions of a real life baby. The fiber optics, and readouts look impressive, but the real exciting part of this, is what BabyX is, and what this system will become.

Using 125 Year Old Tech in the 21st Century.

This is one of those design/technology/promotional combinations that I love. As an extension to the Beck’s Record Label project, the brewer has created a beer bottle that is a record. Based on Thomas Edison’s cylinder recordings from the late 1800’s, Beck’s overcame technical and design challenges to bring this to life.

The bottle was in scribed with a track from the Auckland New Zealand band Ghost Wave. The band’s new single was inscribed into the surface of a Beck’s beer bottle which could then be played on a specially built device based on Thomas Edison’s original cylindrical phonograph.

The project was conceived and produced by Shine Limited. The video below shows how Shine overcame challenges to make this work, and the final result. Nice innovation drawn from 125 year old technology.

Client: Beck’s New Zealand
Creative Agency: Shine Limited
Machine & Bottle Production: Gyro Constructivists
Making-of Video Production: VICE
Record Label: Arch Hill Recordings
Band: Ghost Wave
Album: Ages
Featured Single: Here She Comes

A Modern Tree House, by Chris Tate

At a period in time when the average size of an American home is right around 3000 square feet, it’s nice to see other parts of the world still think modest. Or at least some architects still think modest. I’ve never understood the need for a massive house with tons of unneeded, unused, space. Modular 4 was just under 1500 square feet. My current loft is a mere 1000. That is one of the reasons I really like this modular glass home in New Zealand by Architect Chris Tate.



This house is not large. If you look at the photos and the schematic, I would say this space is between 1200 and 1500 square feet at most. The house feels huge though, thanks to the copious amounts of glazing that literally blend the dwelling into the surrounding forest. The interior and exterior spaces fold together where the structure is perched in the branches of the densely forested hills of Auckland’s suburb of Titirangi.


I like the small footprint of the home, but I love the clean minimal lines. The limited color pallet, and the fact that the structure forces the occupant to live with less. From every angle of the interior, you are surrounded by dense green foliage. The forest becomes an ever changing backdrop. Even the bedroom which is isolated at the opposite end of the main living area offers a panoramic view of the world outside. This is definitely a place that I could call home.

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Photos: Patrick Reynolds