Shaped by curiosity

Bowmast Design Research is a specialised insights practice based in Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand, run by Nick Bowmast since 2009.

I discovered the importance of understanding my own customers’ needs in the early 1990s as a custom surfboard shaper. (One of my customers even became world champ riding my boards). In this environment I learned the difference between what people say they want versus what they really need, and the value of working to a brief informed by reality.

My 25 year design career spans industrial, digital and architectural design. Research and design collided for me in London while working as a consultant for user experience and behavioural research agencies. Here I discovered user centred design and have since applied my instinct for finding out what makes people tick to shape products, services, brands and environments both physical and digital.



I wrote, designed and self-published a practical guide book, sharing mindsets, methods and technique to help others understand their own customers.

Following launches to industry audiences in Auckland, New York, San Francisco and Sydney, USERPALOOZA has become a text in Design Schools and Universities including Penn State and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as closer to home in New Zealand.

Available on Amazon in paperback or ebook, with an Aotearoa Edition limited to New Zealand.


Better by Design

From 2012 – 2017 I worked directly with executive teams as a coach on the Better By Design programme – a Government initiative driven by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. I had training from Stanford D.School, building on a ‘design thinking’ approach. This was a unique opportunity to help export companies adopt and benefit from a user centred design approach to product development.

This home-brewed case study was a standout engagement, with the emerging product going on to sell over 20,000 units.


Speaking, training and lectures

Since setting up my practice I’ve:

Spoken at industry events in Australia, Japan, NZ, UK and USA,

Delivered training to internal teams at Atlassian, Facebook, Fitbit, Google, Gopro, Pinterest, UK Government Digital Service,

Written over 100 articles on my blog: and as a guest author on industry media,

Lectured at business and design schools. Including my alma mater – a reformatted sanatorium with 2ft thick walls and where each student had a ‘cell’ as their studio.