Swinburne win top honours at national design awards

Thursday 11 July 2019

Samantha Edwards Vandenhoek at the Good Design Awards 2019

Dr Samantha Edwards-Vandenhoek accepts the social impact award for Our Journey

In summary

  • Two Swinburne staff, a student and an alumna have won Good Design Awards
  • Swinburne’s winning projects, 'Ntaria Design' and 'Our Journey', celebrate Indigenous culture
  • General Motors executive director of industrial design and Swinburne alumna, Sharon Gauci, won the inaugural Women in Design Award
  • The Good Design Awards recognise the best of design, innovation and creativity in Australia

Two staff members, a student and an alumna from Swinburne’s School of Design have been recognised at the 2019 Good Design Awards.

The Social Impact and Next Gen prizes both went to Swinburne-led projects championing engagement and reinforcing the cultural values, voices and narratives of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through design.

Social Impact was awarded to Swinburne’s Deputy Chair of the Department of Communication Design and Digital Media Design and researcher with the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies, Dr Samantha Edwards-Vandenhoek, and Coordinator of Photomedia and lecturer in Communication Design, Ms Joanna Gardener for their short animated film, Our Journey. The film was created with students from the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School, and shares some of the challenges of living away from remote communities.

Our Journey by Melbourne Indigenous Transition School students

School of Design PhD student, Nicola St John, won the Next Gen category for Ntaria Design - a program run with senior students of Ntaria School in the Northern Territory. Ntaria Design introduces young people to digital drawing, and aims to further understanding of Indigenous design and its benefits to local communities.

The executive director of industrial design for General Motors, Sharon Gauci, was awarded the inaugural Women in Design Award. Ms Gauci completed a bachelor's degree in design at Swinburne, before embarking on a career that has included roles at Ford, BMW and Holden. She is now based in Detroit in the United States.

The Good Design Awards are Australia’s peak industry design awards and were announced at The Star in Sydney on Thursday 11 July. 

CEO of Good Design Australia, Dr Brandon Gien, says the awards showcase the brilliance of design and the potential it has to improve our world.

“Australia’s Good Design Award is more than a symbol of design excellence. It represents the hard work and dedication towards an innovative outcome that will ultimately improve our quality of life,” says Dr Gien.

Our Journey wins the Social Impact award

Our Journey was made in partnership with the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School and Australia Chamber Orchestra. The students created the storyline, and developed a soundscape and characters, which serve as metaphors for their experiences of living and studying in Melbourne. The film is narrated in four Indigenous languages.

“We feel deeply honoured and humbled to be working on this project. It’s inspiring to watch young people transform their lives through design, in ways they never thought possible,” says Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek.

Our Journey was supported by Swinburne’s Marngo Designing Futures program, led by Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek and funded by the Australian Government. 

The Good Design Awards jury praised Our Journey, commenting: “Our Journey is a great example of how design can inform the way in which young people learn, putting culture at the centre of the educational and creative experience. ”

Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek and Ms Gardener were awarded the 2018 Swinburne Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Reconciliation for facilitating the design and production of this short film.

Ntaria Design wins the Next-Gen award

Ms St John says she was immensely proud that the young Aboriginal designers involved with Ntaria Design had been recognised on the national stage.

“For the Ntaria students, winning a Good Design award has motivated and inspired them to continue their design learning, and for me, it has reinforced the importance of recognising, giving voice, and promoting Aboriginal design and illustration,” Ms St John says.

Nicola St John poses in her office

Nicola St John established Ntaria Design as part of her PhD

The Good Design Awards jury praised Ntaria Design saying: “Ntaria Design is an excellent example of the way design can be used in a different way to have a real positive impact on people’s lives, and aid in fostering community.”

Ntaria senior student Marley Kantawarra holds up one of his digital drawings on the iPad

The students draw stories from their country and culture on iPads

In the Ntaria Design program, students collect objects from the bush and draw on stories from their country and culture in their designs.

“Design is good for the community. Because it’s healthy. Because you can do it with lots of friends. It keeps us strong. Keeps us happy,” says Ntaria student Daryl Malbunka.

About the awards

The Good Design Awards jury spent several days evaluating each entry according to a strict set of design criteria, including good design, design innovation and design impact.

The 2019 Good Design Awards attracted a record number of submissions with close to 700 design projects evaluated.

This is the second year Swinburne has been recognised by the Good Design Awards. Last year, an innovative bushfire proof skylight designed at Swinburne in collaboration with Atlite Skylights was selected for an award.