The use of neon signs in New Zealand dates back to the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s. These early neon signs were extravagant and were used mainly to advertise bars, restaurants, and other businesses, especially in urban areas like Auckland and Wellington. However, with the advent of new technologies, the designs of these custom neon signs have evolved over the years.
In the mid-20th century, the trend towards minimalism in design led to neon signs becoming smaller and simpler in style. This was driven by advancements in the manufacture of neon tubes and the introduction of new materials like colored plastics, which allowed manufacturers to create more varied and colorful signs. In the 1960s and 1970s, neon signs became iconic symbols of American pop culture, with many customized designs featuring catchy phrases and flashy graphics.
By the late 20th century, neon signs had fallen out of fashion and were largely replaced by digital displays and LEDs. It wasn’t until the 2000s that neon signs started to make a resurgence, as people began to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating them. Today, neon signs are popular once again, particularly as custom-made pieces in bars, restaurants, and other businesses.
The process of creating a custom neon sign involves crafting the design, selecting the colors and materials, and then meticulously shaping and bending the glass tubes into the desired shape. This is a highly skilled process that requires a lot of practice and experience. Once the tubes are shaped, a specialist will fill them with a gas mixture and then heat them up using a high-voltage transformer until they glow brightly.
Neon signs are now seen as a unique form of art, prized for their retro aesthetic and timeless beauty. They are often used in projects ranging from commercial signage to art installations and home decor. In New Zealand, there are many custom neon sign makers offering their services, and the designs they create are as diverse and creative as the businesses and individuals who commission them.
In conclusion, neon signs in New Zealand have undergone a significant transformation over the past century, from their extravagant Art Deco designs to their modern-day minimalist style. While they may no longer be the preferred form of commercial signage, they have evolved into an iconic art form, celebrated for their beauty and unique visual appeal.