Product Design Employer – Melbourne

Raph Goldworthy – the CEO of DESIGN DROPLETS – posted this in a facebook group: “Who is the biggest industrial design/product design employer in Melbourne ? Post the name of the place and the number of id/pd peeps currently employed there.”

If you have information to add – please post it as a comment here.

We have to change the world

Or so goes the sentiment in”design thinking” – and well its possible. Or alternately – let look back to see how we HAVE changed the world. From 2004 till now we (my colleagues and I) have shaped 321 minds and put them out into this city, Melbourne. Of these, lets say for the sake of our story, 100 are proactively idealistic and changing the world. We have in effect created the perfect 100th monkey phenomenon. Which means the change that we have been instrumental in effecting, is already a phenomenon. The question here is how do we see, touch and feel this change? (I would be keen to hear your responses to this question – in the comments section)

“What we’ve been talking about since my first day on the job two years ago is how artists can change places,” Landesman said – have a listen on ABC RN here ( He was talking about the role artists (which is all creative people – including Industrial Designers) play in a society and the economy. He went on to say that artists (Industrial and Fashion Designers) create events and works. People flock to places where a concentration of such works happen (Melbourne?) – and where the city acquires a reputation as a creative cluster. Where there are people – there are jobs: people eat, watch and go out spending on a whole load of other consumables. The service industry in Melbourne continues to grow. Melbourne is a creative cluster – one of the big ones. How aware is Melbourne of this creative ecosystem? How well does Melbourne support and nurture this creative ecosystem?

Below are a few additional/ useful/critical readings on creative clusters and Richard Florida.


PDF download from here –

Where does Melbourne rank among cities as a creative cluster:

In 2009 I started a few different kinds of engagements with creatives (designers) – the ones that I had worked with in their formative stages. I had a hand in their development – and I decided that it would be good to walk with them as they took baby steps through entering creative practice – this was one intervention – careers curation. I have a few other interventions.

One was to speak loudly in the hearing of the people in the Victorian government (Lyn Kosky in the old days and then the Innovation-wallahs who supported the labour policy on innovation and more recently the people in the Bailleu Govt)  that DESIGN IS AN INDUSTRY and as such needs support like an industry. Everyone in this city agrees that Design contributes to the economy – as in a sector that employs many people. It is a sector, that is not in doubt. But can it claim status as an “industry” and then become eligible for government support – and development projects (a 100 hectare design precinct and incubator estate – with state of the art prototyping facilities – like China has in most cities, possibly also with a visionary like like Bao Fu Han leading it)? Instead we got a festival (not bad for starters) and an Industry support organization (modelled on New Zealand and 1970s UK) – not bad as mild commitment. But not necessarily anywhere near what cities, that wished to be leaders in innovation, were doing. Will this change? Probably not anytime soon.

The orthodoxy sees the situation in two ways: One, industry and the potential employers of designers need to be educated bout the economic benefits of design. This ignores the fact that contemporary society is ‘saturated’ with design – and anyone needing design help knows where to go – the internet. This was not the cse in 1960s UK and so the design council had a programme of workshops and training courses. Is it valid to spend resources educating potential clients to use designers? Why wouldn’t it be a better idea to seed designers to go off and do some creative activity. Like an arts council – only as a new age ‘design council’. Two, more damagingly another view is that designers need to be re-educated to fit into industry and workplaces. Damaging – because it superfluous – or even that these workplaces need fresh ideas not creatives trained to “fit in”. Hence these orthodoxies are fallacies. Have you heard me say this – Yes this has been the way my litany has run for a fair few years.

Still to move on.

Then there was an attempt to find out what the 321 people were doing. This last suddenly seems a very interesting line of inquiry to follow. What I would like to do is first have a group of people – who I can then chat to. If I can get an understanding of what they are doing – then I can get some ideas of what manner of support they could do with. Or I can propose that ‘creative insurgency’ with the willing ones. I can also add to this 50 additional people – the ones who came to us from overseas (mainly from NID in India) and walked some way with us. Right so I have 371 people.

Next I create a place – I tried a NIG network in 2008. It wasn’t perfect. I am trying facebook now – and it looks promising. I have about 200 people at hand.

Then I need projects! First I tested the ground with a ‘pilot’: DIY Pads. Then started looking further afield. I have been looking around and talking to agencies about projects. It looks like there are two projects that have potential for 2012. (If you want to know more about this – express your interest in the comments section.)

My goal initially was to find work for graduating designers, that became bigger and I was looking to figure out all the places where a designer could potentially work in Melbourne. Its now all that, plus – why not create work, workplaces and projects!

On Australia and Indians

Anant’s blog: Of Melbourne and of jingoism | Indian advertising media marketing digital opinion analysis debate – Campaign India online

My daughter is one of many Indian students who have or are studying in Australia.

How difficult would it have been for Indian media to talk to her? She would have been easy to find, studying as she was at Melbourne’s premier university. As would any other Indian student.

So how is it that I saw, read and heard no experience like my daughter’s in Indian media? How is it that I was fed hate and hostility? How is it that all kinds of issues such as racism were dragged into it?

I’m angry. Because Indian news media caused me (and hundreds of parents like me) to be afraid and worried rather than relaxed and happy that my daughter was doing well and having the best five months of her life.

Melting Human Flesh

This one is for Barbara – I was at this public event and someone comes up to you and says, ‘hey that thing, that bunker thing. I am watching that space for ideas’. It felt good. For the faint voice is committed to stay hidden and only talk about the small and the hidden.

If you have been reading the papers in Melbourne – I have collected the first ten days of the papers – you will see a few things happening, I will open up and explain what the ‘experts’ are saying. Now remember I am not an expert, just a voice (and a faint one at that).

What did the fire department person say? The stay and fight policy has to be reviewed – should we go the way of California and forcibly evacuate. Then we must not build in the bush – period. Not worth the loss of life and the continuous bushfire fighting that the CFA has to do.Head of bushfires inquiry abandons stay-and-defend policy | Herald Sun

THE head of the Royal Commission into the Victorian bushfires has already abandoned the stay-and-defend policy as fires rage near his property at Daylesford.

What did the Architects and Town Planners say? They told me bunkers – were such a knee jerk reaction. We need new building codes and building regulations for building in the bush.

Bushfire tragedy rewrites rules for architects – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

But at the same time, architects are starting to wonder whether any building could be safe in the sort of fires seen over the weekend.

We must avoid “knee-jerk” building: bushfire architect

Taking appropriate design measures might minimise the future damage from bushfires, but Victoria should avoid a “knee-jerk reaction” in rebuilding, Tim Whitefield, MD at the Collingwood-based practice Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop told Architecture & Design.

What did the politicians say? A bit of everything. Sometimes this sometimes that.

Bushfire management: where to from here – On Line Opinion – 13/2/2009

In the longer term I would hope for an honest admission that large, horrible bushfires are a consequence of failed policies, failed leadership and failed administration (at all levels), plus the fact that Australians still do not realise that the Australian bush is designed to burn. I have seen enough of politicians, academics and government agencies in my time to doubt any real admissions of failure will be made.

PM playing politics with Victoria bushfires disaster | The Australian

KEVIN Rudd has dragged politics into the Victorian bushfire disaster to put pressure on the Coalition to pass his politically charged $42 billion economic stimulus package.

What did the forrest department say? They said the environmentalists have caused this – by not lettig us do controlled burning. Or that we must control nature and not have pristine natural habitat. You would have seen Bob Brown on TV saying no – this is just a simplistic statement of the greens position. That they never advocated ‘do not touch the forrest’.
Greenies blamed for Victoria bushfires’ scale | The Australian

THE green movement was yesterday blamed for the severity of the Victorian fires that cost so many lives and ruined so much property.

And so it goes. Or in Vonnegut’s words – poo wee tweet.

This stuff I have reproduced below is the other fear that bunkers are not safe for they can be traps. And some have pointed to Dresden as an example- especially citing Vonnegut’s account where he says; “As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into cinders or melted into a thick liquid–often three or four feet deep in spots.”. Well that is not a good example to cite. Dresden was a special case and not a fire storm at all. See the link below for the full story – or better still go out and buy Slaughterhouse Five.

The WWII Dresden Holocaust – ‘A Single Column Of Flame’

Others hiding below ground died. But they died painlessly–they simply glowed bright orange and blue in the darkness. As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into cinders or melted into a thick liquid–often three or four feet deep in spots.

Shortly after 10:30 on the morning of February 14, the last raid swept over the city. American bombers pounded the rubble that had been Dresden for a steady 38 minutes. But this attack was not nearly as heavy as the first two.

However, what distinguished this raid was the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which it was carried out. U.S. Mustangs appeared low over the city, strafing anything that moved, including a column of rescue vehicles rushing to the city to evacuate survivors. One assault was aimed at the banks of the Elbe River, where refugees had huddled during the horrible night.

In the last year of the war, Dresden had become a hospital town. During the previous night’s massacre, heroic nurses had dragged thousands of crippled patients to the Elbe. The low-flying Mustangs machine-gunned those helpless patients, as well as thousands of old men, women and children who had escaped the city.

When the last plane left the sky, Dresden was a scorched ruin, its blackened streets filled with corpses. The city was spared no horror. A flock of vultures escaped from the zoo and fattened on the carnage. Rats swarmed over the piles of corpses.

A Swiss citizen described his visit to Dresden two weeks after the raid: “I could see torn-off arms and legs, mutilated torsos and heads which had been wrenched from their bodies and rolled away. In places the corpses were still lying so densely that I had to clear a path through them in order not to tread on arms and legs.”

Bushfire management: where to from here – On Line Opinion – 13/2/2009

To me, the most fundamental question is not whether we will have bushfires in the future. Of course we will. This is Australia, not the soft green hills of England. The real question is what sort of fires will we have.


I live 45 kms to the south of Kinglake and about 30 kms from Whittlesea. So the fire and the tragedy felt really close.

We heard yesterday that Sue, my daughter’s class teacher from a few years ago, was safe. But a friend of theirs had lost everything – so we pitched in with some clothes and stuffed toys for the children. I texted Scott to see if there was any way to check to see how Scott of KWAC, a place where we took students on camp, had fared. Will try today – maybe someone has a number we can call.

I have this urge to help – am still looking for ways to do something. Meanwhile I am keeping the radio on to hear and feel my way through the experiences of the survivors. I heard this man on the radio – he talked about rescuing his Cats Footy memorabilia. He said if someone was to contribute something – could they do something to make him laugh. Which was this incredible spirit in the face of such tragedy.

If you want to help – click here for the ABC site.

If you just want to say something feel free to comment.

‘Dig deep’ for bushfire victims

‘Dig deep’ for bushfire victims, Australians urged – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The Victorian Premier John Brumby has launched a Bushfire Appeal Fund to help the victims of the more than 400 bushfires which have swept across the state.

The Victorian Government and the Federal Government will donate $4 million to the appeal, in addition to the $10 million announced earlier today by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The 2009 Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund will be set up in conjunction with the Red Cross and will collect cash donations and distribute aid to help bushfire affected communities.

Mr Brumby has urged people to dig deep to help people affected.

“We all grieve with you. So many families; families like yours and mine, now have to rebuild,” he said.

“I can promise that we will not stop until you are safe and your lives and communities have been rebuilt.”

To contribute to the fund, people can call Red Cross on 1800 811 700.

Melbourne bushfire