In Summary

  • Design Factory Melbourne has moved into the newly renovated Hawthorn Fire Station
  • Design positioned as a key pillar in Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct and Research Strategy

Design Factory Melbourne or DFM has moved to a new location in Swinburne’s Innovation Hub on the Hawthorn campus. A historic Fire Station building has been purposefully designed to facilitate DFM activities. It supports design-led innovation as a pillar in Swinburne’s newly launched Innovation Precinct.

“The move to the Fire Station gives the Design Factory more access to the wider university community and industry. It brings incredible value to our co-creation, interdisciplinary problem-solving approach,” says Professor Anita Kocsis, Director of Design Factory Melbourne.

Professor Anita Kocsis and Design Factory Melbourne students in the new Fire Station

Professor Anita Kocsis and Design Factory Melbourne students in the new Fire Station. Photo credit: Nick Dempsey.

The four-storey repurposed Fire Station, designed by Melbourne based architects H20 and constructed by Bldg.Eng, houses DFM and Innovation Precinct staff offices. The Innovation Precinct’s business incubator program, an event space, and flexible break out areas are designed for team collaboration.

Studio space on first floor Design Factory

Studio space on first floor. Photo credit: Paolo Capelli Photography.

“Design Factory has always been a link for industry to access university knowledge and expertise and gives our university community access to industry knowledge. The move to the Fire Station allows Design Factory processes and capability to be accessible across the university in new and exciting ways,” Professor Kocsis says.

Design Factory students working in the Fire Station

Design Factory students working in the Fire Station. Photo credit: Nick Dempsey.

DFM provides an interdisciplinary platform for industry-engaged research. It brings end-users, students and researchers together in early stage product and service development, to experiment with concepts and their potential value. 

The Fire Station kitchen is the social heart of the building. It’s an inviting multipurpose space acting as kitchen, café, workspace and event space.

Fire Station kitchen hosts an evening showcase event

Fire Station kitchen hosts an evening showcase event. Photo credit: Colin Giang.

“It’s in the kitchen where ideas are hatched, partnerships are formed, strangers become new acquaintances and spontaneous meetings occur. It’s the engine for sparking serendipitous encounters and bringing the wider Fire Station community together,” says Professor Kocsis.

The design of the new activity-based studio is flexible, to encourage collaboration. “This is where we unpack, brainstorm, ideate, prototype and solve wicked design problems,” explains Professor Kocsis.

Design Factory students in the soft-prototyping space

Design Factory students in the soft-prototyping space.

“At Design Factory Melbourne, our interdisciplinary methods and mindset facilitate an innovation culture. It supports vital skills required to challenge the difficult, complex and unknown dynamics for success. This culture inspires industry to consider new models of working with students and researchers in order to create impactful solutions,” says Professor Kocsis.

Researchers are given the freedom and resources to create genuine solutions. Students gain new learning experiences through interdisciplinary and international activities. Project sponsors get access to teams of top-level students and leading scholars.

DFM was the first Design Factory in the Southern Hemisphere to formally become part of the Design Factory Global Network or DFGN in 2011. The DFGN is expanding its global outlook with a network of 24 Design Factories, including Melbourne.

For more information, contact the Design Factory Melbourne at

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