The Bachelor of Design is an undergraduate degree programme. We focus on creating designers who are independent thinkers and innovative practitioners, equipped to work in New Zealand and internationally. Our strong links with industry practitioners keep our projects realistic. Our class sizes are small to create a rich learning experience.

As a design student, you will learn through practical projects; testing and analysing. You will spend your days in the design studio and on productions for film and live performance.

Some of our best people have come from Toi Whakaari. The tutors, the educational process, the inspiration within the four walls of that building have guaranteed that those people that join us are thinking with passion, with enthusiasm; they come with tenacity and of course they also come armed with talent.

Sir Richard TaylorCreative Director - Weta Workshop, Co-founder - Weta Digital, Multiple Oscar™ Winner

Design can look different for a person week to week. I feel as much of a designer working in a production role at Weta Workshop as I do designing costume for an opera. For me it is all about a personal approach to problem solving. You never know where life takes you, but regardless I’ve found the skills you can gain from this course invaluable.

Alex Guillot (Design Graduate 2014)Production Assistant (Weta Workshop), Designer – Opera Double Bill (New Zealand School of Music), Costume Designer – Timon of Athens (Summer Shakespeare Wellington)


The Bachelor of Design for Stage and Screen is an undergraduate degree aimed at training theatre and film designers

The focus on practical work is what initially drew me in and kept me engaged throughout the degree because like many designers and visual learners, I learn by making.

Melissa Spratt (Design Graduate 2010)Costume and Breakdown Assistant (Assassin’s Creed, Fury, Edge of Tomorrow, The Hobbit), Best Costume Design Award (London 48hr Film Festival

At the core of any design practice is the ability to express ideas, think critically, respond to different contexts and collaborate across disciplines. We hone these skills through applied design projects.

The course begins with practical skills essential to a designer’s process.
We support you to establish your own design practice that involves self-critique, reflection and self-driven learning. Core design skills taught in Year One include visual communication through drawing and digital manipulation, analysing design in various media, model making, art directing on set, set construction and scenic art, editing, costume design for film and translating a text into a design for live performance.

In Year Two you will apply and extend these skills in a variety of collaborative projects and have the opportunity to explore professional practice through industry internships.

In Year Three you develop your chosen area of professional practice through researching an area of special interest and leading the realisation of a major design project. This might take the form of an experimental film, an audiovisual installation, a performance art event, a set design for film or costume design for live performance.



The tutors at Toi Whakaari are also practising professionals. All have worked extensively in theatre, film or television both nationally and internationally and bring this experience to bear in their teaching

Emma Ransley

Head of Design

Brian King

Design Tutor

Francis Gallop

Design Tutor


We have been graduating designers since 2006 and, in that time, our designers have already made an impact on the industry


Design Graduate 2006

Laura graduated from the Design course in 2006. Since returning from overseas she has re-designed Hummingbird restaurant in Wellington, and completed three 'Cosmic' retail stores throughout NZ.


She worked in China for a year as an interior designer at NHDRO. Prior to that she spent three years in London as head designer for London-based event design company, Urban Caprice. Work with them included design for the iLUKA Olympic Pavilion, Jasper Conran's birthday party, the Deutsche Bank V.I.P lounge at the Frieze Art Fair and the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Summer Gala at Stud House, Hampton Court Palace, London, the Martini film premier of The Boat that Rocked, and a Hugo Boss fragrance launch event at the top of the Gherkin.

Laura also co-designed 'Caravan' Restaurant, Bar & Roastery in London. Other work includes working as a designer at ALLISTARCOX Architecture in Wellington, and set and costume design for The Glass Menagerie (Centrepoint Theatre and Circa).


“Toi Whakaari provided a multi-disciplinary learning platform, one which was constantly shifting to explore the true nature of performance design. As designers, we were encouraged to push the boundaries of our practice, through collaboration, experimentation and critique. The design degree helped me establish a strong base for the skill set I now use on a daily basis, enabling me to confidently express my own design language in many different ways.”


Design Graduate 2009

Ian has been involved in the World of WearableArt Awards, contributing to the scripting process, storyboarding of AV and assistance with props.  Ian was the AV Designer for the 2012 World of WearableArt awards show and also assisted with the production of AV for the shows international debut in China.

Ian was the Set and Costume Designer for Magnolia Street for Capital E. He has worked as a designer for several productions in collaboration with director Kate McGill and received the award for best set design at the Fringe Awards in 2010 for The Love of Your Life. In 2012, Ian was nominated for best Set Designer at the Globe Awards in Palmerston North for The River.

Ian exhibited his installation work Digger at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial.  In 2009, Ian collaborated on the short film Quarters, which was selected by the NZ International Film Festival and screened at the Wellington City Gallery.

“My training at Toi Whakaari allowed me to clarify, test and refine a design process specific to my own way of working. Being definitive in my approach to making work has made it possible for me to apply myself to a broad range of design projects and situations.”


Design Graduate 2009

Jessica is currently working as a Creative Producer at Blacksand, the creative branch of TVNZ, where she produces promotional videos across all the TVNZ channels. She continues to maintain her own arts practice and has directed, produced and edited music videos for Ria Hall (Best of Me) and Aaron Tokona (Turnaround).

Jessica was the Design Assistant on Mark Twain and Me in Māoriland for the 2010 New Zealand International Arts Festival, and also the image, set and costume designer for Taki Rua Productions’ highly successful  2010 Te Reo Māori Tour, Matapihi ki te Ao. She continues to design posters, costumes and sets for theatre productions, including Party with the Aunties, and live music events. As a student at Toi Whakaari Jessica directed and produced an experimental short film for the 2010 NZ International Film Festival, Quarters (Our House).

Check out her website here:

“My experience at Toi Whakaari was a great challenge. The tutors were provocative, inspiring and worked hard to provide us with a range of tools to support our creative endeavours and careers. I still feel that they genuinely care about their students’ potential and the subsequent impact they will have on the industry. There was also a focus on supporting collaboration between students and it’s these ongoing relationships that make me so grateful for my time at Toi Whakaari.”