Media Design

Develop a critical understanding of the role of design in complex media environments and designed channels for communication.

Multiple letter A in different fonts on white background
SpaceSheet, by Tom White: a visual exploration of neural network-generated fonts through an interactive spreadsheet interface

Media Design aims to develop a critical understanding of the role of design in complex media environments and designed channels for communication. In this field, theory, practice, and technology are profoundly intertwined.

Media Design research at the School of Design Innovation departs from classical design and design thinking towards computational design for networked media. We foreground relationships between the social and technical, between the material and immaterial, and between data and context.

Our current focus areas include interactive design for AR/VR and gaming, mobile media and the Internet, 3D modelling and animation, physical computing and wearable technology, and machine learning and AI.

Research topics

Research topicStaff who can supervise research in this area
AI and machine learningAreito Echevarria, Tom White

Audiovisual design

Anne Niemetz

Data

Walter Langelaar, Leon Gurevitch

Game design

Dana Fridman, Edgar Rodriguez, Leon Gurevitch

Indigenous game design

Tuakana Metuarau

Multi-media installation

Anne Niemetz, Doug Easterly, Bobby Luke

Photographics

Leon Gurevitch

Physical computing

Anne Niemetz, Doug Easterly

Social robotsCatherine Caudwell

Academic staff

Name Research interests
 
Catherine Caudwell
  • The design and sociocultural impact of socially capable robots
Doug Easterly
  • Spatial installations using digital media components—from kinetic art to interactive installation
  • Using electronics, circuit design, and programming as design tools for creative interactions
Areito Echevarria
  • Computational approaches to design; design through machine intelligence
Dana Fridman
  • Serious games for health and education

Leon Gurevitch

  • Serious games for health and education
  • Photography and photographics

Walter Langelaar

  • Data

Bobby Luke

  • Spatial installations using digital media components—from kinetic art to interactive installation
Tuakana Metuarau
  • Indigenous video game design
  • Video game design
  • Video game history and the application of early (retro) game design through modern tools
Anne Niemetz
  • The combination of sound design and visual elements to create rich audio-visual experiences
  • Spatial installations using digital media components—from kinetic art to interactive installation
  • Using electronics, circuit design, and programming as design tools for creative interactions
Edgar Rodriguez
  • Serious games for health and education
Tom White
  • Computational approaches to design; design through machine intelligence

Design Research Labs

Data.Mine

Data Mine logo on white background with wide blue bands above and below

Data.Mine is a research cluster that deals with innovation in data generation, retrieval, analysis, and presentation. The goal of the lab is to further understanding of the cultural contexts, analytical techniques, and design requirements to extract meaning and insight from data.

For more see Data.Mine.

Virtual Worlds Lab

Dark blue background with yellow-orange stripe at top of screen and pixellated image of hand and orange block

New developments with virtual reality technology highlight a vast territory for immersive storytelling, gaming, and many other forms of interactive experiences such as simulated education, medical therapy, and scientific visualisation. While Sony, Samsung, and Oculus Rift (Facebook) have delivered the hardware, start-ups and research labs are playing catch-up with the development of content. Local Wellington company 8i for example, has received over 20 million dollars in seed funding, and Weta Digital is also investing in this new domain.

At the lab, design staff and students will research new methods for storytelling, interaction, and immersive experience, presented via emerging technologies such as head-mounted displays.

For more see Virtual Worlds Lab.

Study options

The following postgraduate programmes allow you to pursue research in the area of film, animation, and visual effects:

Master of Design (MDes)

The MDes allows you to further develop your critical thinking and discussion skills, increase your understanding of design, and learn to express your own ideas and conclusions within a theoretical framework.

Find out more about the Master of Design (MDes).

Master of Design Innovation (MDI)

The MDI delves deep into the process of innovation, from conception to design to construction. Through independent research, you'll gain the specialist skills and knowledge you need to be a successful professional in the design industry.

Find out more about the Master of Design Innovation (MDI).

PhD

On our PhD programme, you'll produce an original body of research that expands the design discipline. Your work will be largely independently driven, with two supervisors available to advise you. Typically the PhD is studied on-site, but in suitable cases it may be studied by distance.

Find out more about the PhD.