School of Design signs MoU with THEi at Business of Design Week

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside and Professor Christina Hong after signing MoU

Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design and Professor Christina Hong President of THEi after signing the Memorandum of Understanding.

In summary

  • Swinburne and THEi sign MoU after year long collaboration
  • Innovative students partner with industry leaders from Hong Kong

The Swinburne School of Design and the Technological Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi) Product Design program under the leadership of Professor Blair Kuys, Director of the Swinburne Centre for Design Innovation and Associate Professor Tris Kee, Department of Design at THEi have completed a year-long International Institutional Industrial Collaboration (IIIC).

Swinburne and THEi signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Hong Kong Business of Design Week (BoDW) to formally recognise this collaborative relationship.

visitor at DesignInspire with scale models of chairs by CDI and THEi‌Visitor at DesignInspire with scale models of chairs by CDI and THEi.

The IIIC joint projects from Melbourne and Hong Kong featured over ten innovative product designs and partnered with five renowned industry leaders from Hong Kong and five industrial collaborators. The collaboration had a clear objective to nurture young product designers to innovate and work closely with industrial experts in manufacturing. The project work was exhibited at the DesignInspire exhibition at Hong Kong BoDW last year.

Toy designed by Swinburne student Katey Tran at DesignInspire exhibition‌Toy designed by Swinburne student Katey Tran at DesignInspire exhibition HKBoDW.

IIIC co-designed industry projects were offered to final year Industrial Design and Product Design Engineering students from Hong Kong and Melbourne, within their final year capstone units. Academics from the Swinburne Centre for Design Innovation mentored students from both institutions. Students visited both universities and worked with industry partners in the Shenzhen manufacturing region of China.

THEi students and academics at Swinburne School of Design‌THEi students and academics at Swinburne School of Design.

Swinburne students and academics at THEi‌Swinburne students and academics at THEi.

“The industrial collaborators were impressed by previous student work that showed ability beyond simply product aesthetics through to fully engineered products ready for mass-manufacturing. Associate Professor Tris Kee from THEi introduced Swinburne to the industrialists with the idea of educating the next generation of product designers on a global scale,” says Professor Kuys.

“Students learnt how to manage industry partner expectations and how to work closely with another design school in Hong Kong. We anticipate running a similar collaboration in 2020."

Students travelled to Hong Kong to showcase their designs and connect with industry. 

Students travelled to Hong Kong to showcase their designs and connect with industry. 

From toys, coat hangers, furniture and indoor-outdoor seating to hi-tech locking systems for logistics containers, THEi and Swinburne students collaborated to understand market needs, ergonomics, material economy and manufacturing.

“The furniture designed for Nano Apartments by Swinburne Industrial Design student Laura Tune was highly regarded and will most likely move into production. The travel coat hanger designed for Mainetti by Industrial Design student, Vanessa Cruz and the storage solution (also for Mainetti) designed by Product Design Engineering student Jacqueline Filardo have also been selected," says Professor Kuys.

Furniture for Nano Apartments at DesignInspire ‌Furniture for Nano Apartments at DesignInspire by Laura Tune, Swinburne Industrial Design.

travel coat hanger at DesignInspire ‌Travel coat hanger at DesignInspire for Mainetti by Vanessa Cruz, Swinburne Industrial Design.

Feedback from industry partners informed the student-led projects to ensure final outcomes focused on mass production and efficient manufacturing processes. Communication between the two cities, universities, industry partners and students fostered a new culture for product designers and engineers, with collaboration and a co-design approach, embracing future design thinking.

Swinburne Industrial Design student Vanessa Cruz with her travel coat hanger for Mainetti and THEi and industry representatives‌Swinburne Industrial Design student Vanessa Cruz with her travel coat hanger for Mainetti and THEi and industry representatives, Associate Professor Tris Kee (far right).

“THEi is a relatively new design school in Hong Kong and has partnered with Swinburne’s School of Design because of our strong track-record in product design, co-design and design thinking,” says Professor Kuys.

THEi would also like to partner with the School of Design on a joint Masters program and off-shore PhD supervision. Kuys has recently enrolled the first PhD student from THEi.

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