Integrated Studio 2020

Integrated Studio (2020) was an interdisciplinary undergraduate studio project in semester one of 2020. It involved a group of third year AUT design students from various disciplines—spatial design, industrial design and communication design. Following on the success of Integrated Studio 2019, the 2020 cohort worked collaboratively with AUT's Good Health Design, Waitematā DHB's Institute for Innovation and Improvement (i3) and the Auckland Regional Dental Service (ARDS).

The Project.

This year Integrated Studio tackled two projects this year—ARDS and WARD. The brief for the WARD group was to reimagine what the digital and physical patient experience within the ward of a new healthcare facility on the North Shore Hospital campus could be. While the ARDS group were challenged to reimagine a new brand for the service, and how they might improve the dental experience for children and promote healthy dental habits.

The opportunity for both groups was to explore different possibilities to improve the patient experience. By working collaboratively with patients and staff they had an opportunity to use creative processes to better understand the needs of users and to challenge thinking around what the future of care might look and feel like, challenge current conventions and use design to advocate for those who are most vulnerable. The project brought together students from different design disciplines, to collaborate and experience how those from other areas tackle and approach problems in different creative ways.

In 2020, students experienced additional challenges associated with Health and Well-being due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the project started before the pandemic, the majority of the design work presented was undertaken during level 4 lockdown restriction, requiring all collaborative work to be undertaken virtually. Fortunately, these restrictions were lifted to allow the class group to come together for a final presentation of their work to key stakeholders.

Click to view each groups' projects below.

"It was fantastic, I’m really impressed with their thinking. We always learn a lot from the students. It’s amazing how much having those fresh eyes and young brains onto problems that we’ve been dealing with for a long time, they just bring that  fresh perspective and that really challenges our thinking, it  extends our thinking — to really have to explain why we do things in certain ways and why things look the way that they look. We realise that we need to refresh the way we think about these things and consider other perspectives."

— Robyn Whittaker, Clinical Director of Innovation at i3, Waitematā DHB

Final Presentations

At the end of the semester, both groups presented to key stakeholders at the hospital's Whenua Pupuke auditorium. It was a great way to wrap up the project, and for the students to showcase their amazing projects to staff. Check out the photos below from the day.

Student Feedback

Here's what the Integrated Studio students this year had to say about their experiences throughout the paper.

"I really enjoyed working collaboratively with people from different disciplines as it brought many insights into how I work as an individual in my major. When working with other people’s strengths you realise what yours are too and what you’ve brought from your major. Different perspectives were highly useful because it kept the ball rolling with ideas from different viewpoints. This meant our final design wasn’t just communication, product or spatial design, but actually an integration of all 3 that wouldn’t have been possible without the strengths of each major."

— Alice Fisher, Industrial Design Student

"I think for students wanting to do something a bit different, or challenge themselves a bit, cause it is a lot more self directed than like normal studio papers and you have to take initiative for quite a lot of parts."

— Danbee An, Industrial Design Student

"This paper has opened me to different aspects of design. I can see myself exploring areas of design other than Industrial. I was unsure about what to expect before this paper. I've realised that I find healthcare design fulfilling and meaningful. I would love to pursue and delve into healthcare design for my graduation project. Potentially as a career as well. Integrated studio has boosted my confidence in design more than any other paper. It’s not the same studio stuff that you always do. You get to try different things."

— Zora Situ, Industrial Design Student

"It was more challenging than I expected, especially with the pandemic, but I think it was a really great opportunity for me to meet people from other design disciplines and learn how to work with other working styles and different ways of thinking and different ways of communication. It was great to do work that is related to my discipline, but was outside of what I would usually do in the studio, and something that would have a real life audience and real life purpose as well."

— Jessica Kwong, Communication Design Student

"I did enjoy working in the group of different design disciples, it was a great chance for myself as a product designer to show my prowess. It was a 100% unique experience, working with spatial and communication design students and being able to share my knowledge of what I learned from my major into our design process. Integrating our skills and design thinking leads us to great design concepts. Collaboration was good but could be better if we weren't not doing it online. I've learnt so much about health & well-being by taking this paper which is one of the world wide problems. I believed that we all did really well at the end."

— Tui Meki, Industrial Design Student

"It’s a real test of your design practices and values, because you have to work with people from different disciplines and perspectives, so it becomes challenging at times, but I think the end result is very beneficial for myself as a designer. Although there can be hurdles and difficult situations, this project is extremely rewarding. This has been the first time I have ever felt sad to finish a project at university."

— Luke Bretnall, Spatial Design Student

"I thought this paper was great, this unique experience is invaluable and I had learned a lot from it. Working with people from different disciplines was a bit different, people seem to think and work differently. The open brief allowed us to think and explore problems in the real-life setting. It gives me a chance to experience working a ‘real’ design project with a ‘real’ team. It has been a fun and valuable learning experience. I have learned so much more than just design skills. This paper provided me a chance to do things wrong so that I could improve next time."

— Oscar Zhong, Industrial Design Student

"Overall I’ve thoroughly believe that Integrated Studio is driving the  future of the university curriculum linking projects to more real world context as opposed to non-binary papers that don’t contribute to client delivery. It’s a real great opportunity to do something of importance and of impact within the community."

— Harry Pearce, Communication Design Student

"Definitely meeting new people and being able to explore outside of our original courses that we were in. It’s definitely quite a different feel that allowed us to push our skills and abilities. I’d definitely recommend looking more into the paper, maybe all the examples that have been shown from previous years so you sort of know what to expect. It’s quite a big challenge, but I think it’s definitely rewarding in the end."

— Cassie Paotama, Communication Design Student

"Integrated Studio is something I’m so glad I did, it was a really unique and rewarding university experience. It allowed me to develop a successful design process and work with people I don’t normally get opportunity to interact with. Health design is definitely something I want to do as I go forward with my career."

— Holly Anaru, Spatial Design Student

"It was really different from normal studio work, and I found it really interesting and I have learnt so much from other students as well, and that has actually helped me build on my design skills and what I want to do for my future."

— Jessica Chen, Communication Design Student

"Definitely be open minded. Don’t just be stuck in your bubble, like your thing is right, your design principles are better. Definitely be open because people have really good opinions and outlooks on things so we learn a lot."

— Javani Govender, Spatial Design Student

"I love the person-centred design process and believe in its value. It has been awesome to use co-design and integrate design disciplines in this project. I’ve always thought that its such a shame that we don’t get to mingle much with other design disciplines, and I think its so important because you learn so many other different things. I don’t understand why we are segregated so much to be honest. Any opportunity you should take it. "

— Phoebe Lee, Industrial Design Student

"I enjoyed witnessing how the creative process evolved. The students were very inquisitive and asked lots of questions about our service and our patients’ experiences. The students sought feedback on their work throughout the semester, and they took this feedback on board and adapted their designs accordingly. We were amazed at how quickly the students understood the service and the brief. The quality of the work produced was extraordinary – you’d never know we had experienced a world pandemic part-way through the semester."

— Frances Cullinane, ARDS Service Delivery Manager

The Team


Holly Anaru (Spatial Design)
Luke Bretnall (Spatial Design)
Jessica Chen (Communication Design)
Allen Gao (Spatial Design)
Jessica Kwong (Communication Design)
Phoebe Lee (Industrial Design)
Harry Pearce (Communication Design)
Emma Poole (Industrial Design)
Nikhita Prasad (Spatial Design)
Zora Situ (Industrial Design)
Oscar Zhong (Industrial Design)


Danbee An (Industrial Design)
Alice Fisher (Industrial Design)
Kayla Gandela (Spatial Design)
Javani Govender (Spatial Design)
Amelia Lee-Chee (Spatial Design)
Tui Meki (Industrial Design)
Keana Paerata (Spatial Design)
Cassie Paotama (Communication Design)
Novia Suntornjarayakul (Industrial Design)
Yousuke Tanaka (Comunication Design)

Good Health Design

Stephen Reay (Lecturer)
Cassie Khoo (Lecturer)
Ivana Nakarada-Kordic
Imogen Zino
Guy Collier
Mike Grobelny

i3/ARDS (Waitematā DHB)

Robyn Whittaker (i3, Clinical Director of Innovation)
Frances Cullinane (ARDS, Service Delivery Manager)
Karen Fielding (i3, Health Leadership)

With a special thanks to...

Jay O'Brien (ED Human Centred Design, Commission on Excellence and Innovation, SA)
Joanna Szczepanska (Consumer Experience and Co-design Consultant, Dental Health Services Victoria)
Lara Cavit (Patient Experience Team, WDHB)
Sam Dalwood (Disability Advisor, WDHB)
Allanah Winiata-Kelly (Māori Patient and Whānau Experience Lead, WDHB)
Ravina Patel (Patient Experience Team, WDHB)
David Price
(Director of Patient Experience, WDHB)
Bede Bawayan (Clinical Skills Training Assistant, WDHB)
Betsy Scherer (ESC Charge Nurse Manager)
David Coventon (Senior Lecturer, AUT)
Dermot McInerney (Senior Lectuer, AUT?)
Anke Nienhuis (Lecturer, AUT)
Carl Douglas (Lecturer, AUT)

"I was incredibly impressed. One of the things that I think is so exciting about having the design students come is that, just a whole other perspective, working in one area, even overall in healthcare, when you’ve been in this system, it can be really difficult to think completely outside of the box, to think from a whole other perspective. And it’s just so exciting to see their ideas and to think about it, makes you think, oh gosh, there’s all sorts of ways that we could do things differently. It sort of triggers an imagination that perhaps wasn’t even possible before they presented their projects."

— Johanne Egan, Emergency Medicine, Senior Medical Officer, i3 Clinical Lead People & Culture, Waitematā DHB

A collaboration between...