a large banner of yellow - on it are minimalist depictions of clouds, the 9 stars of matariki, the moon, and mountains: all in two shades of green. the lighter green is used as a color fill, to give the vector illustrations body; and the darker green is used for the linework that makes up patterns overlayed on top to give them detail. in the center is the capitalized, green, text that reads "Woven", to the left of it is a minimalist woven fish swimming downwards, and to the right of it is green text that reads "Take a break and turn over a new leaf."

What is Woven?

Woven is a cultural icebreaker that shifts participants past a text-based secondhand experience with Māori culture, engaging them face to face through hands-on interaction in a relaxing environment that promotes discussion, creativity, and provides answers.

At its core it’s a facilitated workshop, featuring the familiar Māori practice of weaving harakeke, but with a contemporary design that is approachable and unconventional to generate curiosity and bypass assumptions.

Woven is deliberately different and unfamiliar- because in order to learn something new, you may just need a fresh start.

What was my role in this?

My roles in the team spanned a few disciplines, the best way for me to sum that up being:

  • Sensitivity Consultant
  • Brand Strategy
  • Administration / Project Management
an illustration of myself, standing with an arm out to hold up the shaka hand sign. my facial expression looks stressed with comical tears.

Sensitivity Consultancy: Short Version

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Moderating communications for any (accidental/ignorant) insensitive phrasing or perspective as well as moderating portrayal of Māori culture and assets in our design.

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Educating group members on social politics, parts of Māori culture that I research, and being consulted on phrasing and copy writing.

Talked more about in Brand Strategy, I took part in copy writing te reo Māori parts of our design collateral, publications, and interactions to those outside of the group.

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Researching Māori symbology in tattoo and carving in order to utilize the more uncommon visuals in our design.

I purchased “The Polynesian Tattoo Handbook vol. 2” by Roberto Gemori to understand and research symbols and composition of Māori art and design (the resource I could find and access at the time).

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Collating and organizing our resources on Māori culture and helping group members to access and understand them.

Much of my research on Māori art and design from the Tattoo Handbook was collated here for Russell to access and create vector patterns out of the symbols documented.

Sensitivity Consultancy: Long Version

Māori culture has a history of suppression, oppression, unceded land acquisition, and many more malignant decisions under colonization by Colonial settlers; that’s fact.

Each of the members of this group also possess a certain privilege because of this history- with only one member having Māori whakapapa- but was still largely disconnected from this cultural identity until just recently. Therefore, we are inherently ignorant and needed to take care in honoring and respecting a culture that we were largely unfamiliar with.

My soft skills host an empathic nature which drives my passion for helping others- because of this I’ve worked on exposing myself to social justice, politics, theory, and actively practice a methodology for interacting with sensitive topics; this became something I utilized during this project given the historic and current context around Māori culture.

Brand Strategy: Short Version

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I did illustrations for the initial proposal and created some of the first vector illustration assets that Russell and Jack then built the visual direction off of. I'm great to brainstorm and concept with!

I would also be part of the composition process for scenes in motion graphics and the minor editing of scenes in the static graphics.

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I was the main designer of the color palette and color themes; where I researched Analogous, Complementary, and other types of color palette strategies in color theory and design.

I did this with input from both Russell and Jack as they needed specific things from the color palette for their respective designs.

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Russell was the lead for font decisions but I had input with both brand strategy and sensitivity about the necessity of macrons and font personality.

Macrons are necessary for Māori words, however, there was a lot of debate where my team member would not budge on practicality vs. aesthetics so many words went without the necessary macrons in the initial designs. Moving forward we changed to a similar font that supported macrons and were able to make the correct adjustments.

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I took part in copy writing as well as editing copy, however I was in charge of any te reo Māori as I had the necessary skills and experience to understand and assess the meaning of words and phrases for the designs we would implement them. As time went on this te reo Māori copy expanded to other members of the group as their understanding and vocabulary improved.

Brand Strategy: Imagery

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Tiki illustrations I did to introduce the group members in presentations, from left to right: Me, Jack, Russell, Desmond.
Tiki illustrations I did to introduce the group members in presentations, from left to right: Me, Jack, Russell, Desmond.
a postcard-sized yellow paper with illustrated steps on how to weave a fish out of strands of harakeke.
the raranga ika guide - vector illustrations i did for postcard sets for the shy participants that came to our installation to self-teach.
among long harakeke leaves is a postcard-sized blue paper with a title text, 'Raranga ika (woven fish) visual guide', and illustrated steps on how to weave a fish out of strands of harakeke.

Admin / Project Management

This role responded to the insight of our naturally flat hierarchy and the need for an organizer and a director instead of one single leader. All group members took part in major decision-making and I focused on pulling out their reasoning, aligning it with our values, and mediating discussions.

My relevant experience that assists with this is that many of my inherent soft skills align with empathy, mediation, and pacification; these I exercised in the group dynamic to keep a productive order and keep our argument counter at an absolute zero. I also researched into methods of facilitating group discussions and employed them in our meetings.

Another part of my administrative duties was collating, organizing, and archiving all of our activities within our Trello board: I used informational hierarchy design basics to make each list’s purpose easily stand out to the members for efficient navigation and organization. I also continued the labeling system from our previous project: each member is assigned a color label within the Trello medium with their names; we also have an ‘All Team’ label and an ‘Important’ label.

Loosely under the administrative practice is my affinity for editorial work; I read, edit, review, and cross-check all of our copy and participate in minor copy-writing duties. This is a majorly important role as the rest of the group’s unedited writing is not quite reader-friendly. My editorial role also extended to moderating (writing and/or editing) almost all Email and instant messaging service communications to those outside of the group for absolute clarity in communication for our recipients.