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Massey University introduces new concept design major

Artwork by Alice Moore.

Hot Water-cylinder-saurus by Alice Moore.

The Gloaming by Hamish Fraser

The Gloaming by Hamish Fraser.

The Gut by Tahiwi Trenor Hunt and Rhys Humphries

The Gut by Tahiwi Trenor Hunt and Rhys Humphries.

Massey University is introducing concept design as a specialist major in its Bachelor of Design with Honours programme, a first for any Australasian university.

Concept design is a dynamic new area of study that creates the ideas behind film, television, gaming, performance, products and interactive experiences. This new design major will set graduates up for careers in New Zealand’s booming film and entertainment industries.

Massey’s College of Creative Arts is already well-known internationally for producing concept designers, with graduates working at Weta Workshop, Mechanic Animation, A44, Pik Pok, Pukeko Pictures and Te Papa. Other graduates have found success freelancing or starting their own independent companies.

School of Design head Professor Brian Lucid says the new major has been created to meet demand for qualified concept designers in New Zealand. “There is growing demand for graduates who can apply rigorous speculative thinking at a strategic level,” Professor Lucid says. “Our graduates will gain transferrable skills that can be applied whether in business, government, or within social and civic enterprises.”  

The new degree also creates a pathway to the recently launched master’s programme in partnership with Weta Workshop. Weta Workshop co-founder and creative director Richard Taylor says the Weta Workshop School Master of Design “develops the world’s best budding concept designers into extraordinary storytellers for the world’s entertainment industries”.

Massey graduate and concept designer Hamish Fraser works at independent games studio A44 on open world and action-RPG games. “I had been interested in concept design since high school, from watching movies and playing games growing up. I took computer animation, and illustration papers. It took a while to realise I could do it, and build skills to working as a designer,” Mr Fraser says.

“Having a major at the university level will help people get those skills under their belt before they go into their workplace.”

Concept design uses traditional art forms like drawing and sculpting 3D models, as well as digital illustration and making digital plans and renders, to communicate concepts for new objects, characters or environments. It incorporates designing characters, creatures, props, vehicles and machines, to building entire worlds that form the foundations of feature films, theme parks, events, toys or exhibits.

The major is open for applications now for semester one, 2020.