David Irwin

David is the creative and a founding director of Isthmus Group, a New Zealand based inter-disciplinary design studio. The isthmus design philosophy is inspired by Land People Culture. 

David's design work crosses the boundaries of art and design, landscape architecture, architecture and urban design.  His design work spans some 30 years and has seen him lead project teams that have won national awards in; landscape architecture, architecture and urban design, resource management, planning and engineering. A number of projects have won international acclaim including New Plymouth Foreshore and Oriental bay and in 2016 major international design awards for a Taumanu bridge in the world architecture news, and Landscape of the year for Kopupaka reserve at the World Architecture Festival WAF.  

David awards list is testament to his creative and "no boundaries" approach to his work. He is strong on conceptual thinking, problem solving and leadership. 

David always works in a collaborative team-based environment. Having lead teams with some of New Zealand's leading artist, architects and engineers, and with his own strong long term team of Isthmus designers and collaborators. David continues to work on the cutting edge of some of New Zealand's leading urban, architecture and landscape projects.

David's personal inspiration comes from New Zealand, its landscape, culture and those people he collaborates closet with. He seeks to explore uniquely New Zealand solutions with his own skills which include; seeing solutions, creating and holding concepts and project visions. David is a strong leader who inspires and focuses teams to answer some of the critical urban problems of today. He is a motivator and a communicator. He is known to test ideas quickly and efficiently, constantly looking for and evolving solutions through a strong design process. David has developed and contributed to a unique design language and process that has been imbedded in Isthmus design studios.

David's own design enquiry span, across a wide range of media, including writing, photography diagrams / sketches and drawings. He uses an old-fashioned black day book and sketch book as his documentation medium of choice, together with a luminx 1000 camera and a iPhone. David constantly discusses and tests ideas with his designers and this forms a critical and vital part of his design process.

David is a promoter of design as a creative solution-based process to some of our countries and our cities contemporary problems.  He believes in observation as the key to seeing solutions and has written and published on the Isthmus design process. Many overseas landscape, and urban design publications books have included Isthmus designs many of which have been led by David.  

In 2016 Nine Point Press published a book entitled Coast Country Neighbourhood City on the work of Isthmus Group. David's projects featured heavily in this book and his essay on design, forms corner stone for the book. The book was short listed for New Zealand book awards and won the NZILA national communication award. David continues to publish through Hinaki which he curators and edits the journals on interesting design observations and insights from the Isthmus Studio, harnessing the collective studio inspiration.

Today his work continues to be concerned with New Zealand, its urban identity, community and housing problems. As the creative director of Isthmus, he spreads himself over projects ensuring the designs are clear, meaningful and achievable. 

To take timeout he looks balances yoga with a good dosage of adventure, mtbing, skiing, surfing and windsurfing, family time. 

But mainly David is a creative who's life revolves around the concept of understanding and then designing solutions for New Zealand's very real urban and rural problems, through observing New Zealand's culture and identity.



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