Minnow swims with the big fish as Best Award finalist

Much has been made of the difficulties of being a small fish in a big pond, but it hasn’t stopped Bay of Plenty design studio Minnow from being named as a finalist in the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Best Design Awards.

Minnow is a finalist in the Lighting category for their latest release, The Bloom, an interactive light shade designed to be flexible and adaptive to the needs of the user and the space.

Minnow won a Bronze in the 2013 Best Awards for its initial range of lighting designs. Creative Director Victoria Menary said adaptive design was an exciting space to be working in, but not without its challenges.

“The Bloom is our most ambitious project to date. Creating a shade that was flexible and adaptive required a mechanism that allowed the user to change the shape of the light shade, without wearing down any of the parts.”

The inspiration came from the humble umbrella.

“The mechanism an umbrella uses to open and close is remarkably simple and effective. We adapted the same concept to allow The Bloom to open and close, and to be fixed in any position in between.

“Closed up, it creates a beautiful, warm and cosy glow. Opened out, it lights up the room and casts dramatic shadows.”

Victoria said they had set out to create a single product that could be adapted to any space.

“The Bloom’s design means it can change with a space, as people update their aesthetic or layout. This gives it a much longer useful life, not contingent on one particular concept or theme.”

Beyond its clever and beautiful designs, Minnow is committed to ensuring its products tread lightly on the planet.

“Sustainability is at the core of what we do. All our products, including The Bloom, are created to have a long life and a good death – meaning components can be composted or recycled at the end of their useful life.

“Our veneer is grown in New Zealand, in managed plantations. The copper and plastic rivets are all fully recyclable. The wire is reclaimed and involves me clambering around in bins full of copper wire at the metal recyclers, searching for the exact gauge and strength I need. Then the wire needs to be stripped and separated, straightened and polished before it is ready to be used. It’s a very labour-intensive process but it’s important to me that I use materials that have the lightest impact on our earth.”

Minnow’s products are hand built using hand tools, which keeps energy consumption low, its packaging is recyclable and compostable and for every one of its products sold, Minnow pays for a native tree to be planted through the Native Forest Restoration Trust.

Best Design Award winners will be announced at an Awards Night on Friday 4 October.

The Bloom is available, alongside Minnow’s existing lighting designs, from

For more information about the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Best Design Awards, visit