Industrial Design Melbourne

This year, like every year at this time, a whole bunch of design students will leave university to enter the profession. And as with this time every year the prospect of making a living from design is scary!

So I said to myself I would do something about it. But what?

I could visualize projects – write grant applications and generate jobs myself. September saw me submit a grant application – to redesign a glucometer. A simple project – that can use fresh design talent. October saw me dream up a rash of design projects – and I realized I had missed the deadline for many grants – thats okay I said to myself, I could ask the graduating students to work with me writing grants. That is my solution.

But all this is a long term strategyl and what if I dont get the grants. OK – this problem needs a solution that has many parts to it.

So here is what I came up with – my short term strategy:

1. If I focus my attention on only 10 of them or so – I could ask around and find them work: But shouldn’t they do this themselves? This is training for work as a freelance designer – to hustle for work is a skill that is invaluable, and has to be acquired the hard way. Still I can pitch in – and ask people over email or by calling hem up. So I did this. It may work for one or two of this bunch of students. I have to remind myself to keep the pressure on the agencies.

2. Some of the students have not done so well in their last year. Life intruded. I realise they may want time to sort things out. Or a design place to be in for a bit.

3. I think some of the students would be better off starting a business. But they do not have the necessary confidence. I realise they may want a sounding board.

4. I think some of them would be better off going overseas. But they want to live in Melbourne.

So then I realise I could do things to help 10 students. And this is best done on a case by case basis. So I said to them all – ‘okay here is the thing, I am going to support you for a year will you find your feet’.

But this left quite a few of the others out. And this is when I went off and had a conversation with Design Victoria. I came away from that conversation understanding DesignVic’s agenda and role much better. It wasn’t about work availability for Industrial Designers. I mulled about talking to State of Design – then came across the Australian Design Unit – also being done by Propeller. So they were doing something else – which was part promoting design in Melbourne and part resource for designers. Neither answers the problem – how do you employ the hundred or so fresh design graduates?

What if you dont? Well (a) its not fair, and (b) its back to the retail sector for the graduates, and of course with some more options which may be employment elsewhere – not design! I have for decades heard the comment that this is an okay situation – that we train our students will a tool kit – ‘the design way of thinking’. I wish I thought like that. I cant. My predicament is that in my previous job I looked after placements – and campus recruitments. That was in India. It doesnt happen here.

So I am back to my hole – I need to do something that will work for everyone.

This is when I thought to rectivate a NING social network we had set up last year for a course. I did that and sent off the info to the whole student community. Now in my next post I will talk about the vision for this project.

So remember the project is called – “Industrial Design Melbourne“.

Its a social innovation project.

And the NING network is here if you want to join it.

And if you have a suggestion of a solution to the problem – let me now through a comment here.


In the recession

Barry Katz – writing in ARCADE says:

But what of the legions of unemployed designers? Happily, in a truly restorative world there would also be more design. A lot more of it. But design of a different sort, practiced by a new breed of designer according to principles now only dimly perceived.

The first new design specialty to blossom will be un-design. Under the guidance of trained and dedicated professionals, un-design students will study methods of fabrication but starting from the back end of the textbook. Forget Derrida. They will practice applied deconstruction. During their summer recesses, they will intern with un-design studios and gain practical experience excavating junkyards, strip-mining department store shelves and clear-cutting rooftop satellite dishes. Upon graduation they will hang out their shingles and begin practicing un-design for an array of corporate and municipal clients: Architects will be put to work un-designing dilapidated, underutilized and just plain ugly buildings; Graphic un-designers will set out to neutralize billboards, web pages and corporate identity systems; Industrial un-designers will start by dismantling handguns and cigarette machines and move on to assault rifles and SUVs. They will have more work than they can handle.

As legions of un-designers gradually clear away the appalling detritus of the Design Century, a guild ofimmaterialists will emerge who specialize in “mining urban industries,” in the phrase of the Worldwatch Institute, transforming industrial waste into a new generation of building and manufacturing materials: Used tires will be more sought-after than virgin timber, empty soft-drink bottles and salvaged copper wire more valuable than oil wells. Just as the raw engineering of the first industrial age had to be softened by the designer’s touch, so the processed materials of the post-industrial age will cease to look like used egg cartons and become shimmering, sensuous and superb.

who do I want to be as a professional?

Tales from an Unemployed Interior Designer

Now I’m faced with yet another problem (in addition to all those associated with searching for a new position in this economy); if my job is not coming back in any way, shape or form… then what do I want to do and who do I want to be as a professional?

on Design Forums

Why has the level of discussion in “design forums” degenerated so quickly? Maybe because they’re not populated by “designers.” Greenfield explains …

A List Apart: Articles: The Bathing Ape Has No Clothes (and other notes on the distinction between style and design)

I admit it: I’m one of those poor souls who likes to indulge myself in the fiction that there’s something called “the online design community.” And (in what is probably a still greater admission of my own naivete) I believe in both the possibility and the worth of associating with this diverse and international scatter of people on message boards.

Stimulus Program For Unemployed Designers

Job Stimulus Program For Unemployed Designers –

With unemployment at a 25-year high, and an estimated 3.3 million jobs lost in the last five months, a leading design software company has created its own stimulus package-providing unemployed engineers and designers with the opportunity to learn valuable new career skills.

The program gives free software licenses, training videos and tutorials, networking, certification and potential job leads to any job seeker living in the United States, Canada or Europe-helping candidates stay current with the technology while upgrading their skills for an ever-changing job market.

Behind The Scenes

Don’t give in to shamefaced cringing and glum, hand-wringing humility

Product Panic: 2009

In 2009 you might be unemployed, like those moguls at the top of the financial food chain, so it’s necessary to look busy, preferably at some advanced and exotic activity. Don’t give in to shamefaced cringing and glum, hand-wringing humility. You’ll be getting plenty of humiliation from crazed market forces, which behave in ways that make no sense to anyone. So why not be out there, zanily extravagant? Are you losing anything the whole world hasn’t lost already? Ask yourself, “What would Maurizio Cattelan do?”

Unemployed Print Designers

This is a story about adapting to change. What is ID today – you may well ask.

An Open Letter to Unemployed Print Designers | Chopped Fresh

Poor, poor little print designer. You have been working exclusively in Quark, InDesign and Illustrator for the last ten years, and you haven’t bothered to advance your skillset to accommodate new mediums, like this Internet fad. And now you can expect to compete for lower paying jobs with a lower title. But you really have nobody to blame but yourself. You probably should have spent some of your free time learning how to do some basic HTML or Flash, or perhaps even learning what information architecture is and what it is used for. Instead you have resisted the changing landscape, and you’ve banked on companies always needing business cards or stationery or whatever.

Don’t shoot the messenger, but it’s too late for you to catch up now. A new generation of visual designers is coming into the workplace, and they are not only trained in interactive mediums, they understand them because they use them every day. The younger crowd understands what a “tweet” is, recognizes the importance of wireframing a user interface, and knows how to properly construct a web page. They even grasp the importance of keeping their skills up to date. And they’re hungrier and more innovative than you are.

Fit for work?

I was looking up ‘unemployed designers’ and came across this.

Unemployed Anonymous – Support group for recently graduated industrial designers | LinkedIn

Unemployed Anonymous is a ‘support group’ created for and by recently graduated industrial designers from the TU Delft, but hey! we’re all ears for anyone out there who can give a hand or a good tip!

We’re here to share experiences and hopefully also tips on how to get a nice job as a designer after your graduation.

Tamil and Australian aboriginal languages

I sat and watched Ten Canoes the other day. The language in it sounded like Tamil. Which was a surprise. Just like years ago I realised that Japanese and Tamil words were interchangeable in a sentence. So I went looking for research where others may have found this too. I came across this:

Perhaps most similar to Australian languages are the Dravidian languages of southern India. Tamil, for example, has five places of articulation in a single series of stops, paralleled by a series of nasals, and no fricatives (thus approaching the Australian proportion of sonorants to obstruents of 70% to 30%). Approaching the question from the opposite direction: according to the latest WHO data on the prevalence of chronic otitis media (Acuin 2004:14ff), Aboriginal Australians have the highest prevalence in the world – 10-54%, according to Coates & al (2002), up to 36% with perforations of the eardrum. They are followed – at some distance – by the Tamil of southern India (7.8%, down from previous estimates of 16-34%), … (from

Then I started to look at other linking the tamil and the Aboriginal. And here I encountered a lot of material. I big proportio of this has to be discounted as it is typically in the vein of the Indian or Tamil suprematist. Quickly – that vein is one that claims that Tamil is the original language – and the class of languages called Dravidian ( an unfortunate appellation?) is huge and spread all over the world. Some claim the flaw in this na,ing has given rise to the feeling that Tamil ( as dravidian) is the original language. Still now we can start to read about DNA evidence. See this:

Dr Rao and his colleagues sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of 966 people from traditional tribes in India. They reported several of the Indian people studied had two regions of their mitochondrial DNA that were identical to those found in modern day Australian Aboriginal people. (

Also –

Then there is the Human Genome Project and here is what that has to say:

During his own journey in pursuit of the Y chromosome story in the late 1990s, Wells took blood samples from males of Dravidian ancestry in southern India. The Dravidians were among India’s earliest colonists; they now live among the descendants of a later wave of Sanskrit speakers — like Latin and ancient Greek, Sanskrit is an a branch of the Indo-European ‘mother tongue’, more closely related to modern English and French than to Dravidian.

Wells was looking for a genetic marker called M130, the most ancient, non-African, Y-chromosome marker. It is rare in Dravidians, but quite common in Australian Aboriginal males — and, intriguingly, in the Na Dene peoples of the Pacific north-west of North America.

The Na Dene peoples are descended from a second, later wave of immigrants into North America, who were ultimately of Sino-Tibetan stock — M130 is both the oldest non-African Y-chromosome marker, and the most travelled.

Wells’ suspicion that M130 might have survived, at very low frequency, in southern coastal regions of India, was proven correct

The first African emigres left a durable calling card on the coastal migratory route between Africa and Australia.


Which is of course mystifying and a bit thrilling. Do I carry M130 I wonder. If yes what would that mean to me? Or should I just learn the (which) language?



The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is the world’s premier institution for information and research about the cultures and lifestyles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, past and present.

National Archives link

Muslim Journeys
Shadee Khan

From the Afghan camel drivers who helped open the continent’s vast interior, to the Turkish families who answered a call for willing workers in the 1970s, Muslims have contributed much to Australian life. They journeyed to an unfamiliar land, bravely seeking opportunities in a culture inclined to view them with suspicion. Some, like the herbalist Mahomet Allum, found achievement and acclaim. Others, like the pearl diver Samsudin bin Katib, became embroiled in controversy. Many more simply made a home, building lives and communities. Their surprising stories of adventure and adversity can be explored through the rich collections of the National Archives.

Reconciliation Australia

Who is RA? – Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that was established in 2000 by the former Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. We are the peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for the wellbeing of the nation.

Blog psipunk

Mazda Taxi, Concept Taxi, Taxi By Mazda, Concept Car, Ernesto Rodriguez, Future auto
Future Transportation –

You don’t stand gawking at a taxi, unless it’s an Enzo, but the Mazda Taxi concept could make you stare every time you see it. The concept, developed as a taxi, keeps the specific requirements of the vehicle in mind. The first thing that comes out is, that the ways of approach to a taxi are different for the commuters and the driver; while the driver enters and leaves the vehicle from the street side, the commuters do that from the curb side. This allows the passengers’ luggage to be kept towards the street side, rather than putting it in the trunk. The approach makes for quick and easy ingress and egress for the passengers.

Sketch for a Course

Design and the Indigenous: Exploring contemporary Aboriginal Australia

The title took some constructing – but I am happy with this, and the fact that the title does not commit to a position or angle.

The next task is to establish the need for this exploration. I began an exploration titled ‘Great Civilizations’ in 2005. The idea at that time was to privilege an exploration of China, India and Australia. My aim there was to make these three the sites of interest and potentially the centres of design exploration. I was in those days arguing against the privileging of Europe/ European Design as the centre and Australian Design as a remote periphery. This distinction is not so much about the primacy of European Design as its relevance in Australia. Its one thing to design here and then go off and exhibit it in Europe to acquire an international reputation – which is a valid practice in a particular way especially for an individual. Its another thing entirely when the curricula in design schools is orientated this way. So I was arguing for local relevance, regional relevance and a completely different cultural discourse. Now the cultural is not done in an overt fashion by design in Australia – as my mother in law said it; “the Australians do such practical stuff”. That statement was probably inspired by a visit to IKEA. But I do agree on one thing – the cultural is missing. The symbolic is absent!

Design in India and China is symbolic. Quite significantly so. And it is ,my call that so is the Aboriginal – in the manifestation of the symbolic as the story. I realise the unpacking of the Indigenous Australian culture into modern language is done though English – which sets up a particular way of constructing meaning. The realisation is at this stage a feeling of dis-satisfaction with the texts I am reading. Chatwin was a good read but a bit shallow in retrospect.

So in this way I am saying that the ‘cultural’ is the key to navigating materiality in these ‘great civilizations’. A tinge of the sacred, heaps of proscriptions and the ever present malevolent force have to be given form and shape.

Lurking in this is the exploration – design and the indigenous.

What this may not be – is a visual appropriation (that would be at the surface) of the aboriginal as a surface pattern or motif. And a big challenge is in the area of ‘adoption or adaption’ where traditional artefacts are transformed by a process of migration. Indigenous Australia is a bit light on artefact culture.

MacIntyre on Windschuttle

Posted to mark the reading of History Wars!
Stuart Macintyre | Reviewing the History Wars | Labour History, 85 | The History Cooperative

He misreads those whom he castigates. Windschuttle repeatedly alleges that Reynolds and Ryan sought to depict the frontier as a place of indiscriminate white killing. Yet Reynolds was principally interested in the Aboriginal response to the newcomer, and consistently argued that it took a variety of forms, from co-operation and partnership to resistance and warfare. Ryan was concerned to relate the story of the dispossession and survival of Tasmanian Aboriginals, and frontier violence was only one part of her story. So far from them creating an ‘orthodox school’, other historians had long since challenged the emphasis on frontier violence and queried the idea of a frontier with Europeans on one side and Aboriginals on the other. 3
The greater part of Windschuttle’s book is given over to a minute examination of the massacres. He scrutinises the historians’ treatment of these events, tracks their references back to the archives and compares their versions against the original source. This is by far the most damaging of his criticisms, as he finds some of the sources do not support what the historians reported while others do not even exist. He pays careful attention to chronology and topography, consistency and plausibility — when and where did the incident occur? who was there and can we trust their version of what happened? — to reduce the number of casualties. He imposes stringent standards of evidence — from reputable eyewitnesses and preferably corroborated — to rule out higher numbers.

Chatwin’s Songlines

I post this as a marker for having read Chatwin’s Songlines.
Book Review – Songlines – [1989] AboriginalLB 12; 2(36)pg19

All of Australia when viewed from the standpoint of a songline is a sacred site. How does one sort out the western legal ramifications of such a concept? How does one reconcile two such different cultural concepts on the ownership of the land?

Bruce Chatwin also writes about the other people who inhabit the land the Aborigines live in. The whites who “own” the stations and pubs, the whites who work with and for the Aborigines and the whites who just happen to live in their land. Without intentionally doing so, Bruce Chatwin contrasts 40 000 years of Aboriginal culture with 200 years of white settlement. The attitudes of the outback whites to the Aborigines is often demeaning and degrading. There are a few who respect the Aboriginal people and culture; there are just as many who don’t.

In the Northern Territory racism is a way of life, as it is elsewhere in Australia. An article on Roberta Sykes in the Good Weekend 17/9/88 said, “She believes Australia is still an appallingly racist country, and spins off story after story to prove it: the Pryor boy who suicided, the daily evidence uncovered by the Muirhead Inquiry. “In Townsville things haven’t changed that much.” After reading Songlines, the same can be said for Alice Springs and Katherine and…

Bruce Chatwin does not need to spin off story after story; the few he includes are not intended to shock, rather they illustrate his journey in Australia – the bottled “Authentic Northern Territory gin piss” at the Burnt Flat Hotel. The policemen at the hotel at Glenn Ormond who “knew” that Aborigines were different – they had different urinary tracts to the white man …

Week 3

This is week 3 of my immersion into the area of the Indigenous. I had made a call some time ago till 3 weeks ago that I could transfer my discourse of ‘the other’ from India into that of comprehending the indigenous in Australia. Three weeks ago I had a meeting which sowed seeds of doubt in my head. So I am now in a position of (a) having a framework that navigates ‘the other’ as a general category, and (b) needing a way to navigate a particular instance of the indigenous in Australia s a specific example.

In India there is a the instance of the hi-caste and the tribal as two polar instances of the urban and rural – both negotiating the contemporary. The tribal in India exists as a category that is both protected and transformed. It exists as a location for positive discrimination and as a category that has been marginalsied in society. Its ways have been the subject of social inquiry – but its ways have not been valued for adoption. The tribal has also not been a site of live tourism Its artefacts have been made into museum pieces and its crafts have been the subject of modernisation. The hi-caste on the other hand has been studied and similarly marginalsied in specific locations. I have been a student of the hi-caste, and have grown up in the tribal areas of India. I amy assume here that I have the necessary background to go into the indigenous in another part of the world. Though I am not very sure footed.

Then there is Gondwanaland – which needs another journey.

For three weeks now I have been reading up on the indigenous – in a attempt to construct ‘design and the indigenous’ as a research project.

More on this in the coming posts!

The problem with the iphone


The iphone is popular, attractive and with its apple istore provides a convenient way to release software to the user. With all these strong points, it is easy to see why many people choose to use it as a basis for their design. However if you plan to use Bluetooth there are a few important things you should consider.

To communicate Bluetooth uses a number of software profiles, each designed with a specific job in mind. There are 22 in total1 but support for all of them is not automatically provided in every device. The iphone for example when first made supported two of them, Hands – Free Profile (HFP 1.5) and Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP). Support has been increased recently to include a further 3 profiles, Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) and Personal Area Network Profile (PAN) 2. In comparison a mobile phone like the Nokia E65 provides 11 profiles 3.

These profiles are perfectly fine as long as the Bluetooth connections are limited to audio, handsfree and networking but somewhat limiting if you intend to interface the iphone with your own custom hardware. It becomes obvious how difficult it is to create programs that interface with the Bluetooth when you search the iphone app store. A search for “Bluetooth” will result in 22 results with all but 3 of these being games. This is out of what apples states is “tens of thousands of apps that let you do even more with your iPhone”4.

Assuming none of the above profiles are useful we have two choices, either wait for Apple to include the relevant profile and a way to access it via software or use a 3rd party stack to add the profiles ourselves. This second option has been pursued by small teams of developers on and off since the iphone SDK first came out, the reason you may never hear about them is that these programs generally require the use of secret or unpublished functions and as such are a breach of the developer’s agreement. This means that even if you were somehow able to get your program functioning you would never be able to release it on the app store.

All things considered for such a well appointed phone the implementation of Bluetooth and its support for 3rd party developers is poor. Unless Apple changes this with an update to both the phones firmware and SDK, creating Bluetooth peripherals for the iphone will be little more than wishful thinking.

1 –

2 –



(Thanks to Ben Elston for this info)