2024 Australian Good Design Awards Open


Welcome to the year of the Design Effect 

In a world where design has the power to change the way we live, work, play and grow – it is more critical than ever that design, is good design. That is, design with purpose, humanity and integrity. 

This year’s theme, the Design Effect, aims to showcase the profound ripple effects that exceptional design can have on individuals, communities and the world. It’s about pushing boundaries, co-designing closely, challenging conventions and harnessing the power of imagination to positively transform the ways we live, work, interact, strategise and lead.

The Design Effect is a movement, an idea, a concept, a set of principles and a clarion call coined by design figurehead, social entrepreneur and the Patron of Good Design Australia, Dr. Jan Owen AM, in her moving opening address at last year’s Australian Good Design Awards Ceremony in Melbourne. 

Good Design Australia sat down with Jan to discover why the Design Effect may be the most powerful design lesson we can give the next generation and how it underpins the 2024 Australian Good Design Awards.

Dr. Jan Owen AM at the 2023 Australian Good Design Awards Ceremony. Photo: Kit Photography

Good Design Australia: At last year’s Australian Good Design Awards Ceremony, you gave a beautiful opening speech where you coined the term the Design Effect. How would you define the Design Effect and what potential do you think it has in helping to solve some of the biggest design challenges facing our world today? 

Dr. Jan Owen AM: The idea of the Design Effect came up during last year’s Women’s World Cup. The ‘Matilda Effect’ became this whole vernacular that had an impact on everyone in Australia, even people who’d never watched football or thought about football at all. When everyone came together, it was like we had this unlimited access pass to the game that opened up the doors to an army of young girls ready to face massive challenges such as diversity, equality and inclusion. 

I was also inspired by the UK Design Council galvanising 1.97 million people across the design space through their Design for Planet initiative to help address the climate crisis and achieve net zero, making design regenerative and not extractive.

They said that we needed to redesign every aspect of how we live our lives. The result was incredible, people just flooded in with design ideas and proved that everybody in the design community wants to be part of the solution. 

“It got me thinking that this is a great design lesson to give the next generation right now, that the future must be co-designed, that it’s imperative that the next generation of designers reach across sectors and disciplines to help solve the wicked, intractable problems of today.”

The way that First Nations communities think about design, design for community and design that encompasses culture and land have similarly been profound in developing this concept. It further shows that the Design Effect is only possible when people can genuinely learn from each other, come together and work together and make a difference. It shows that bringing disciplines and sectors and creatives and entrepreneurs together is more powerful as a whole than the sum of its parts.

2023 Australian Good Design Awards Ceremony. Photo: Kit Photography

Good Design Australia: What realistic impact do you think designers can have if they genuinely focus their efforts and talents and work together to help solve some of these wicked problems for people, places and planet?

Dr. Jan Owen AM: The impact will present itself when we make a commitment to the Design Effect and power it with determination and imagination. We are going to need so much more imagination!

The end result will be design innovations that make it easy for everyone to live more sustainably, resilient places that are created alongside communities and a greater focus on regeneration and the Circular Economy. 

Without it, we’ll be stuck in the situation we are facing right now – every part of society, every product, every service, every part of a system, every institution being not quite fit for purpose. These are big things that drive our quality of life on this planet such as healthcare, education, transport and infrastructure, and they’re all coming to this time of regeneration.

We have to think about the role of design in this context, and the way it can help reimagine, bring new ideas, different disciplines and schools of thought together. 

“Push yourself beyond what you thought was capable by bringing everything and everyone into play in your design.”

I believe the overriding concept of the Design Effect is actually about being quite playful and serious all at once, you know, because so much design is about failing and having another go and about prototyping and experimenting.

Every designer knows that you’ve got to go through so many cycles before you land on the right solution. You’ve really got to work closely with the consumer, end user or your client to make sure you are designing the right thing and then designing the thing right – that’s incredibly powerful. 

Good Design Australia: In your wildest dreams, tell us your boldest, most audacious aspirations for the Design Effect as the umbrella theme for this year’s Australian Good Design Awards? 

Dr. Jan Owen AM: I always look for and I go searching for the most unlikely alliances actually. So my bold ambition is that design teams bring their most unlikely partners, their most unlikely alliances, their most unlikely collaborations and their most unlikely consortiums to design meaningful solutions that will have the greatest positive impact possible on people and our planet.

Enter the 2024 Australian Good Design Awards

Early Bird Entries for the 2024 Australian Good Design Awards are now open, with submissions closing at midnight Friday 15th March.


Featured Project: Pupilmetrix: Automated Pupil-Based Clinical Phenoptyping for Sleep and Mood Disorders. 2023 Australian good Design Award Winner, Design Research.

More News