Au revoir, Josh!

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It’s hard to believe it has been nearly two and half years since I first started at the DHW Lab. To begin with, I would like to say that it has been some of the best years of my life. It’s a privilege working alongside the other members of the DHW Lab design team. They are all incredibly talented, passionate and friendly and I can’t thank you enough for their kindness to me over the years. And Steve, let’s not forget, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it!

In conjunction with my masters, my time at the Lab has been a huge learning experience. I have learnt a lot about the complexities of the hospital and challenges of practicing design in a large, well established organisation. Shifting people's mindset is never easy, but now, more than ever, I believe it’s worth it. Each project, actualised or non-actualised, is a step towards helping those involved in healthcare to see the importance and value of human-centred design.

Working with designers of other disciplines has also helped me to develop my design process and the way I work best as a designer. Particular highlights include working with Eden AKA ‘Illustrator & Wayfinding Sensei’ on the Rosella wayfinding project, working with Nick AKA ‘UX/UI & Coffee Sensei’ on the Script app and working alongside Reid AKA ‘Product & Life Sensei’ on the privacy booth.


Probably most importantly, the Lab has made me realise that this is the type of work I want to be doing, at least in the near future. I find it both morally and creatively fulfilling. The decision to leave the Lab was therefore not an easy one. It’s tough saying goodbye to my friends and family here in New Zealand. But, I hope that I can continue to find a similar sense of purpose in Toronto at Healthcare Human Factors, and potentially bring some of my learnings back with me. It will be a new adventure for my wife and I and one that I hope to share with you all when we get back.

To finish I thought it might be nice to list some of my key personal takeaways from the Lab. They are as follows:

  • Workspace is crucial. Make it cool, make it open plan, make it yours. It makes you want to come to work and do great work!
  • Hang out, talk to and ask for advice from your colleagues. If you want a true anti-hierarchical working environment you need to be mates! There is so much to learn from just chatting to one another.
  • Design success is measured completely differently to those in healthcare. Don’t let resistance to an idea get you down. Push-back is part of the job description, so learn to be patient and content with knowing you have tried, and continue to try, your best.

Learn to tell and ‘show’ non-designers what you do, how you do it and why it’s important. A huge part of this is making, even at the very beginning of a project. A shared understanding helps to better connect design problems with design solutions and enables non-designers to contribute more constructively to the design process.

Off Grid 17

A couple of members of the team Lauren and Eden, attended Off Grid 17 this week, an experience design conference in Wellington that focused on the intersection of communication design and the built environment. Framed as a 'non-conference conference', there was a focus on experiencing Wellington as a city, participating and connecting with fellow attendees, and listening to what local and international practitioners are achieving in the field. 

 Laurie Foon discussing Wellington City and creating communities
 Laurie Foon discussing Wellington City and creating communities
Outside Seashore Cabaret cafe, lunch talk by Matt Wilson (owner) about culture and atmosphere in public space
Outside Seashore Cabaret cafe, lunch talk by Matt Wilson (owner) about culture and atmosphere in public space

The conference began as an experiential journey which bought people from cities around the world, with stop overs in Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Christchurch. Starting in Auckland, the team went to Open Studio at Alt Group where the hosts showcased their work.

As part of the conference we were encouraged to take an experiential journey to Wellington, we achieved this but didn't exactly plan it (Wellington fog and diverted flights, need I say more). Highlights included excellent coffee, inspiring local talent, and great key note speakers. The diversity amongst disciplines was refreshing, key themes were inclusivity, being welcoming and creating conversations. "We are all designers. Stop separating and start collaborating for true authentic connection" – Andrew Balster, Archeworks. Morag Myerscough reminded us of the importance of play in a huge range of work – from installations in Mexico and exhibition design, to hospital wards in Sheffield, and she discussed the eternal love triangle of designer, maker, user. 

A Signage Strategy for Wellington talk by Strategy Wellington
A Signage Strategy for Wellington talk by Strategy Wellington

Top quote:

"As designers we have the ethical imperative [to invent new sustainable ways of living]. As citizens, we have the ethical imperative to make our governments develop and embrace this new way of being in the world. As individuals we have the ethical imperative to everything we can do to contribute to this way of working, with the greatest possible urgency to overcome the challenges that we face! — Bruce Mau, Now we can do anything, what will we do?"

— Andrew Balster, Archeworks

ID/Lab x DHW Lab collab


This past year the DHW Lab has been working on improving wayfinding at Auckland City Hospital. To provide expertise around the strategic elements of wayfinding, such as designing and problem-solving for a campus-wide system, wayfinding strategists ID/Lab were engaged. Specialising in hospital wayfinding, they have designed for over 40 hospitals world-wide. 

Unlike a traditional client/consultant relationship, this was a collaborative venture between the two studios. Strategists and designers from the firm worked over an intensive 7 days with designers from the DHW Lab. We explored the campus using journey mapping, personas, and prioritised areas for improvement. As part of this collab, ID/Lab coached members of the team in the dark arts of wayfinding, providing insight into their strategic approach and methods in solving complex, multi-layered problems.

For both studios this was a positive new experience, and we look forward to more collaborative opportunities like this in the future. The clarity they provided in their wealth of experience was refreshing and inspiring. As part of their time with us the wayfinding work the DHW Lab had completed to date was critiqued, and many of our ideas validated and made more robust. They will continue to support us till early next year, as we compile the wayfinding strategy, recommendations, and updated design guideline for the Auckland DHB to take forward.


The Best of the Best

Last Friday night the team glammed up and headed out to the Best Awards.

The lab was stoked to be finalist this year in four categories: graphic design, product design,  public good and interactive design.

After a couple of months of anticipation it was finally time to find out who the best of the best were!

We are so excited and proud to announce how awesome our students did!

Charlotte Dickson's children’s book ‘Lin Breaks her Arm’ was awarded bronze on the night. This was the only student project under public good that was a winner in its category.

Our resident boss cat, Eden Short’s student project‘ Wayfinding for healthcare seeking’ won a silver award in graphic design.

We can’t forget Antonio Wan, with his three piece suit looking pretty dashing on the night. He took home a gold pin for his design “The Little Ones” that he did for his honours project last year. He is currently working on his masters project. Can’t wait to see how it does!

Congratulations to all our students! We are incredibly proud of all your hard work. Also thanks for all the support our students have received to help them towards this great achievement.  

Designing Health.Care _ Interview with Nick Hayes

Nick Hayes our Lead UX designer was recently featured in DesigningHealth.Care blog by James Turner. His blog highlights the work created by designers inside healthcare institutions.


This is a great article on Nick’s journey to where he is today! The article focuses on what the lab is all about, including projects, approaches and challenges that take place being a UX Designer in a hospital context. It also looks at our some of our key achievements and our student cohort.

You can check out the article here.

If you want to know more about Nick and what he’s been up to at the lab drop us a line at

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👋 Welcome: Lauren Stewart!

The lab employed a new graphic designer: Say hello to our newest team member, Lauren Stewart


Lauren is a graphic designer who specialises in layout, infographic and publication design. Over the last two years she has primarily been designing for non-profits, which has led to a strong interest in empathy-driven communication design. Her two main focuses at the Lab will be visualising Patient Pathways and supporting the Wayfinding team.

Outside of work she runs a co-working space with two friends which aims to connect underground designers and artists to the wider community. You will find her there most weekends working on pottery, zines and printing on their Risograph.

We're excited to have her onboard and look forward to her contributions to the design team!