In Summary

A new book by three Swinburne University of Technology academics highlights the career journey of Swinburne’s design alumni. Co-edited by Carolyn Barnes, John Bassani and Nicki Wragg, the book looks at the relationship between the designers and their industry experience.

IdN Extra 09: Red Thread, a compilation of fifteen Swinburne alumni and six staff essays, explores the history and success of Swinburne’s Bachelor of Communication Design (Honours) program, which has been running since the 1970’s. The program is renowned for its year of Industry Placement, which has set it apart from similar courses offered by other universities.

The essays and commentary provide an insight into the professional lives of some of Swinburne’s most successful Communication Designers, talking not just about the pivotal moments of  successes in their careers to date, but more interestingly their experiences along the way, detailing the struggles and challenges they faced as they made the transition from student to designer.

“For me, Industry Placement was monumental in my design career. I had support, freedom and not too much pressure, which was a perfect combination as a growing designer. To watch my design go from concept stage, all the way to the supermarket shelf, was a big learning curve.”

“After 12 months I returned to university to complete my Honours year…along with 15 other students. Each had done their placement at an amazing studio. After graduation, everyone found jobs at incredible studio,” Frankie Ratford, Swinburne Communication Design alumna, said during an interview that appears in the book.

In particular, the book explores the lessons that these former students have learnt over the duration of their Industry Placement. Many of the design alumni accounts in Red Thread raise the point that when starting their Industry Placements, they were introduced to a much faster pace of design that university classes could not prepare them for, and that without the Industry Placement program they would have found it difficult to adjust.

Red Thread also discusses the importance of education in the design industry, while highlighting how international experience can impact a designer, with many of the Swinburne alumni in the book saying that their international experience, combined with their industry placement, has shaped their designs today.

The large book, which  includes images of colourful designs and photographs, intertwined with the essays and commentary from the Swinburne alumni and staff, is a testament to the quality of  Swinburne’s Communication Design program.

Red Thread is available now and can be purchased from