Delicate cloud lighting forms float over, and mirror, island seat forms below, like the puffy white clouds that sit over the many islands scattered across the Pacific Ocean. Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, means the “land of long white cloud.”

It is not primarily to do with recyclable materials, efficient material use. To me these are the basic givens of design — any good design automatically does this by default. If not, it is not good design.

Why do I design? To provide cultural nourishment, to tell stories, to reach people emotionally and spiritually; the objects are a vehicle for the nourishment we so badly lack in all the pragmatic and consumer stuff we are surrounded with. Most of the talk about design’s role in helping us solve our current problems is still very rational, left brain thinking. Of course we need this and it has great breadth as your exhibition shows so well, but I strongly believe that design also needs depth, a different dimension that nourishes us culturally as well as providing us with tools. This is how it has been in the past throughout all cultures.

And the other reason I design is to recreate that vital connection to nature that we have lost so much, living in insulated cities. We desperately need to rebuild that connection so as to value nature because it is what gives us life: fresh water, clean air and food. If we go on destroying it in the way we are now, it is us that will suffer the most, along with all the other species we make extinct.

When I explained to people at the exhibition’s opening about how static clouds are formed in a moving air current, and how they were used by Polynesian navigators to find low-lying land that could otherwise only be seen a few miles away, they emitted a long ‘aaaaaahhhhhh’… as their initial narrow, visual connection spread out like a warm glow to embrace their greater senses and emotions. That was my reward!

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