Brief: An open brief for the last semester of my degree: Research a problem within your everyday life; execute a design solution.

Problem: Domestic urban environments are noise polluted and often not conducive to creative output.

Solution: I explored how people could use Ambient UI and soundscapes to enhance the quality of a home environment. I created an ambient machine that reflects unique forest soundscapes to help people work, study, sleep, or just relax.

Featuring three unique boxes and soundscapes, each WaoBox tells a story around its respective forest. Going out and hearing the sounds of the Wao (te reo Māori for ‘forest’) was imperative for developing my project. To capture the nuances of each environment, I recorded birds, wind, rain, and water and created ambient soundscapes.

Three separate ngahere (also ‘forest’) stood out to me with their stories; Pureora, Rakiura, and Waipoua. These ngahere, like all others, have many stories to tell, but these are the stories that resonated with me. Conservation protesters fought for the ancient trees of Pureora over many years and saved it from milling. Rakiura is a coastal forest that shows how Aotearoa was and could be with little human interference, and Waipoua is home to the mighty Tāne-mahuta, (God of the forest) — Aoteoroa’s largest tree).

WaoBox was recognised at New Zealand's premier design competition, The Best Awards, winning two gold pins in web design and product design student categories.


Media Design School


Thomas Asche
Ngaru Garland

A website is the perfect medium to house the products and tell their stories, along with technical specifications of the boxes.

The Digital Wao recreates the experience of WaoBox online, making Waobox available for everyone, everywhere.

A shop was included to round out the project and bring it to life.

We captured the boxes in their natural environment. This gave them a homeware feel, contrasting the other more technical elements. I commissioned a friend to take photos on a medium format film camera; the photography is an homage to the vintage stereo gear I was inspired by.

Commissioned renders were used to flesh out the product line of WaoBox. Creating fun, unexpected images of the boxes brought a playful element to the project.