Dark Sky Project

  • 2020

  • Design Strategy

Designed By:

  • ThoughtFull
  • Geoff Suvalko
  • Aaron Richardson
  • Emma Richardson
  • Andrea Fouhey

Commissioned By:

Ngai Tahu Tourism

Designed In:

New Zealand

The Dark Sky Experience is a new tourism attraction based in Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand. A 360 degree designed experience. From strategy, product, brand development, restaurant design, digital installation, audio visual, signage to merchandising that expresses a narrative that combines Science with Maori culture.

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  • In 2012, the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve was declared, with light pollution strictly controlled in the area. The only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. This formed an opportunity to create a new ground-up tourism attraction that showcased the wonder of the night sky through both daytime and evening to broaden the market and make the night sky accessible to more customers. To create a narrative that struck a balance between the role of the University of Canterbury Astrophysics department and the significance the night sky to local Maori people. To fuse science with culture.

  • Indigenous cultures and science have generally sat at opposite ends of the spectrum for generations. The night sky is perfect example of where this happens. We aligned all groups around a common purpose. “To empower people to protect the night sky’, and named it ‘The Dark Sky Project’. The visual identity expresses the Southern Cross constellation and the colour way represents knowledge for Maori. The word-grid enabled the assembly of word-based constellations to create playful messaging across the business. We extended the design across the building interior, materials, branded merchandise, tour scripts, digital installations, audio visual, and restaurant design.

  • Launched in 2019, The Dark Sky Project showcases the unique cohesion of expertise towards a common cause, to empower people to protect the night sky. “A wonderful insight into the history, chemistry, astronomy and Maori mythology surrounding the night sky. The Dark Sky Experience is a multimedia, all-weather daytime dip in to the Southern Hemisphere. The tour takes about 40 minutes and visits four different rooms each with an individual flavor and story. Allow plenty of time to visit the amazing restaurant and best souvenir shop in town, along with some spectacular views across Lake Tekapo. A must visit.” Customer

  • The project encompassed: - Business strategy - Brand positioning - Brand Identity - Spatial Design - Product Branding - Restaurant Design - Digital Interaction Design - Audio Visual and animation - Storytelling - Tour design - Merchandising Design - Signage Design