In Summary

  • Communication Design connecting with not-for-profits and health related services
  • Portfolio Group surveying industry about graduate portfolio requirements
  • In-house design studio Bureau expanding to include research projects

Associate Professor Nicole Wragg is the new Chair of the  Department of Communication Design and Digital Media Design at Swinburne. She is focusing on a consolidation of the Communication Design program at Swinburne to ensure the ‘scaffolds’ and student experience in the discipline majors is cohesive.

“Sometimes, with multiple options and flexibility, students can get lost. I want our students to be able to make informed decisions based on knowledge of the whole program rather than approaching their studies module by module, without connecting the pieces between them,” says Associate Professor Wragg.

“Communication underpins everything we do, including web, motion, UX and photo media. All core program units are foundation Communication Design units. We facilitate many co-design programs and projects that relate to industry, providing students with a variety of broad experiences,” she says.

Associate Professor Wragg believes it’s important to celebrate the collaborations that are encouraged in Communication Design at Swinburne. “We have very strong industry links and students benefit from collaborations. This includes the work design students and staff do together; the projects and programs that bring industry and students together; and the relationships staff have with other universities,” she says.

The Swinburne School of Design Bureau is an in-house design studio established by Associate Professor Wragg in 2017. It provides opportunities for Communication Design and Digital Media Design activities where students engage with industry and academic staff, across the school on external and internal communication design projects.

Students working at the Bureau at the School of DesignStudents working in the Bureau at the School of Design.

This year Associate Professor Wragg and her team are working to expand the activities of the Bureau to include more research projects. They are forming an honours year program so students can enrol for a one year (in fourth year) experience working with clients in the Bureau.

“The Bureau has the potential to manage and operate a lot of different activities. Students will study and work in alternating Research units and Bureau units. They will become part of a ‘Bureau Collective’ conducting research and consulting across industries,” Associate Professor Wragg explains.

“The good thing about Swinburne is that people approach us because we have a reputation for working in Communication Design. We assist not-for-profits and organisations that can’t afford commercial design studio rates due to limited funds. We introduce them to a large-scale design process,” she says.

App design for Parents, Tweens & Sex program designed by Communication Design studentsApp design for Parents, Tweens & Sex program designed by Communication Design students.

“We work across a range of projects with social impact, especially in health. There are many intersections in the health and design space. This has become more so for us because we are in a Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, but we’ve always had good connections with not-for-profits and groups in the health space,” says Associate Professor Wragg.

Design concept and capstone project for Jean Hailes Foundation by Luke Ebert

Design concept and capstone project for Jean Hailes Foundation by Luke EbertDesign concept and capstone project for Jean Hailes Foundation.

“This is good for the design industry, as it educates people about design and the design process, not just a finished product. It’s the outcome of this thing we call design. We focus on strengthening industry engagement in teaching units, and feed this through every level, not just the final year capstone stage,” she adds.

Associate Professor Wragg and communications design academics are developing a Portfolio Group. They are surveying industry to find out what businesses want to see in graduate portfolios. This changes often, and they are looking into how Swinburne can better prepare students for the workplace. This helps students with employment and supports entrepreneurial design graduates wanting to start their own agencies.

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