Design & Visual Communication (DVC)

Design and Visual Communication (DVC) is an area of learning within the New Zealand Curriculum, where students learn about design, develop their practice of designing, and develop their design thinking in the context of spatial and product design. Design, designing and design thinking is explored and expressed through visual communication and is informed by design heritage.


Learning in Design and Visual Communication (DVC) focuses on the inter-related fields of: Design Thinking, Design Heritage and Visual Communication.

Design is the imagining and creative thinking of novel, new and beneficial ideas, resolving problems to improve the lives of people. Designing is the activity and practice of Design.

  • Design Thinking: is the creative and cognitive activities of perception (sensation, observation and awareness), inspiration, imagining, interpretation, generation and synthesis, leading to invention and improvement that informs designing. Design thinking is expressed through visual literacy; the ability to make meaning from images, and to make images that communicate meaning.
  • Visual Communication: is the presenting of the action of design thinking, design narratives and outcomes, using representation and presentation skills and techniques.
  • Design Heritage: is the history, culture and awareness of design: the approaches to and perspectives of design practices, design fields (architecture, interior, product, landscape, fashion, media design, etc.), design eras/movements, designers, design artefacts and the elements of design.

Design and Visual Communication (DVC) focuses on understanding and applying drawing techniques and design practice to communicate design ideas. Students enhance their ability to conceptualise, develop, and communicate design ideas and potential outcomes, and their skill to interpret graphical information.

The components of Design and Visual Communication (DVC) are:

Knowledge of Design Practice

Design practice focuses on developing conceptual designs in response to a brief. Knowledge of design practice includes understanding that designers identify the qualities and potential of design ideas in terms of the broad principles of design (aesthetics and function) and sustainability, and that they are influenced by societal, environmental, historical and technological factors.

Visual Communication

Visual communication refers to the effective communication and presentation of design ideas using modelling and graphic design techniques. Initially students learn to communicate and present their design ideas and information by applying 2D and 3D visual communication techniques such as sketching, rendering, mock-ups, digital drawing and modelling, annotations, instrumental, templates, collage, overlays. Students progress to effectively and clearly applying complex and high quality visual techniques and knowledge that communicate a story to an audience - the intent of their design ideas.

Graphics Practice

Graphics practice refers to the creative application of drawing and design knowledge and techniques to develop conceptual outcomes that address a brief, or a technological outcome of a graphical nature.

Design and Visual Communication (DVC) is taught through to Year 13 and further study is available at tertiary level (Polytechnics and Universities) in such areas as architecture, graphic design, engineering, interior design, advertising, computer graphics etc.

Design & Visual Communication (DVC)

Career Pathways

Architect, Interior Designer, Landscape Designer, Industrial Designer, Urban Designer, Draftsperson, Animator, Exhibition Technician, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Production Designer, Art Director, Sign Maker, Naval Architect, Engineering, Advertising, Website Developer, Teacher, Merchandiser and many more.

Head of Department 
Carolyn Higham

Bachelor of Spatial Design (Auckland University of Technology)
Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) (Auckland College of Education)

I have been teaching at Rangitoto College for the past eighteen years, and during that time, I have held numerous roles; including mentoring pre-service teachers as a tutor for Auckland University of Technology, Curriculum Leader of Design and Visual Communication (DVC), HOD Art and Design Department and currently as the HOD Design and Visual Communication (DVC) Department. I have enjoyed contributing to several sporting codes, particularly Archery, and have assisted with Chinese Fan Dance and Debating, and more recently, the Wire Crafts Club. I am very fortunate to be teaching alongside passionate and committed educators, and creative, innovative and aspiring future designers.