2018 SEGD Chapter Chair Award: Nick Kapica, Design Lead, City of Wellington
The SEGD Chapter Chair Award recognizes outstanding volunteer efforts while significantly contributing to the direction, growth, strength and excellence of SEGD Chapters both locally and throughout the organization.
Nick Kapica hails from London, where he studied Visual Communication at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. He also holds a Master’s in Design from Massey University. Kapica founded firm SV Associates in Berlin, before moving to Wellington, New Zealand to become a Senior Lecturer in Design at Massey University.
In 2017, he joined the Wellington City Council and is currently serving as the Design Lead responsible for Brand Experience and pushing ‘design as a process’ deeper into council structures. As a design researcher, he operates within two distinct yet related areas of design practice: visual communication design within spatial environments and the use of spatial environments to enhance and affect user experiences within them.
Kapica is passionate about people, design and the urban environment. This is evident in his work since 2014 as a Chapter Chair for SEGD’s Wellington chapter, where he and Co-Chair Jo Bailey have organized many successful events, including two large international conferences, Off Grid 17 and Off Grid 18.
We caught up with Kapica to talk about what makes a successful chapter and why he got involved.
What led you to a career in design and why EGD?
I had thought about being an architect but then wanted to be a filmmaker—I think I was attracted to all the gear and locations. However, when I went to see the film school, I went to the wrong building and stumbled into a typography studio and I was hooked. Experiential graphic design came much later when I realized that I could do something akin to both architecture and film though projects telling stories in spaces.
How did your relationship with SEGD begin?
In 2009, I took up the position of Senior Lecturer in Typography at Massey University in New Zealand. I was asked to refresh how typography was taught and decided that some scale was required.
Together with Spatial Design lecturer Sven Mehzoud, I developed a new course called ‘Spatial Typography.’ I discovered SEGD while doing research. I came along to the San Francisco conference and really enjoyed the community.
How and why did you become a Chapter Chair?
I think the idea started at the San Francisco conference; I really enjoyed meeting everyone and wanted to build the SEGD community in the southern hemisphere. It felt like SEGD was at a turning point and I wanted to support the energy and direction.
I have been a member of other design associations in three different countries and SEGD is the first one that reflects the design profession the way I want it to be. No silos, no egos—it’s all about people and place.
What are a few of your fondest Chapter event memories?
That is difficult! I always have such a great time, but it’s totally exhausting: 30 hours travel, 3 days of conference and party, then 30 hours travel home.
I think the best memories are the conversations we all have in between, around and after the presentations.
Why Wellington? What are your favorite parts of living and working there?
Wellington was an accident.
I fancied the southern hemisphere and there was a project happening in Wellington. I thought it was too small at first, but I soon realized that was what made it so great.
Wellington is a city that has everything you want from a city without it being large. I wanted to live by the sea (having lived in London and Berlin before) and Wellington has great access to the water and it has lots of wind, which is good because when I am not working I go kitesurfing.
What makes a good SEGD chapter? A good Chapter Chair?
I think a good chapter needs to offer something special and unique to its local audience. Each chapter needs to know why it exists; it should not just be a mini version of SEGD.
The type of events you organize needs to be relevant to the local community—there may be some things that are not so important locally that are really important at the international level. That’s how the Off Grid event was conceived. We realized that locally we can have small events with a handful of participants, but what designers in Wellington want and need are big events with international guests because it can be difficult for most people here to have those kinds of experiences otherwise.
A good Chapter Chair will understand the local community, look for opportunity and provide experiences that help develop the profession. I think all the chapters are doing this; each will be different and that is why I think SEGD works so well.
Tell us about the suits, we’re dying to know more.
Over the years I have worn outfits from brands MisteR, Kowtow and World. They are all New Zealand labels. When I travel, I like to be recognized as coming from somewhere else and enjoy that the designs stand out. It makes me feel good about the place I currently call home.
Congratulations to the 2018 SEGD Achievement Award winners!