Design Research – 2023 Gold Award Winners


The Design Research category of Australian Good Design Awards looks to the core of the design process. That is: the academic and industrial exploration that contributes to all innovative and ground-breaking design outcomes. 

Design Research can be defined as scholarly investigations that aim to advance or discover new knowledge in the world of design. In this context, Design Research is understood to be research embedded within the design process and is commonly used to understand people, their experiences and future challenges.

The 2023 instalment of the Australian Good Design Awards recognised research surrounding life-saving initiatives, data-led innovations and culturally-respectful activations. Read on to explore this year’s Good Design Award Gold Winners and the project who took away the category’s prestigious Best in Class accolade.

Te Wao Nui o Toi

Akshay Rao, Anton Matthews, Carol Soundy, Graham Tipene, Melissa Helyer-Akhara, Simon Rycroft, Graham Tipene, Sanjiv Menon, Simon Holbrook, Courtney van Beek & Vijay Patel

Image: Toi Mai Workforce Development Council

Toi Pāho – the internationally-recognised film, television and interactive media sector of Aotearoa New Zealand – is facing skills shortages and a lack of diversity in its ‘below-the-line’ workforce. Demand is exceeding supply, with production restraints and the scarce availability of experienced workers stifling the strength of the sector.

So, the Te Wao Nui o Toi project implemented co-design workshops, empathetic interviews, surveys and literary reviews in a data-quantified approach to gain a deep understanding of the people who work in Toi Pāho. This helped discover vibrant pathways toward attracting and nurturing a diverse, well-trained and supported workforce. 

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Smart Homes for Seniors

Sarah Pink & Citt Williams

Image: Sarah Pink

The growing capabilities of smart home technologies have incredible potential to support the independence and wellbeing of seniors, enabling them to live for longer in their own homes and be better connected with others. Yet, little was known about how seniors can best benefit from these technologies and whether their embedment into senior living could support safe and comfortable lifestyles.

That’s where the Smart Homes for Seniors documentary came into play. The production is a character-led design anthropological documentary which follows five senior households over six months as they experience and experiment with smart home technology. The film advocates for co-designing technologies and related services with seniors themselves in their homes to better support wellbeing and ageing in place.

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City Sensing Data Futures

Monash University Emerging Technologies Lab

Image: Monash University Emerging Technologies Lab

Sensors and data capture technologies provide significant opportunities for cities to gather and share knowledge about local environments. However, there is little understanding about how people experience, engage with and imagine their own future uses of city data. This has illuminated the challenge of ensuring trust, privacy, transparency, communication, engagement and inclusion within local communities.

City Sensing Data Futures is a research collaboration between Monash University’s Emerging Technologies Research Lab and City of Melbourne. With respect to trust, privacy, transparency, open communication and care, it created and demonstrated an ethics-based inclusive design for the capture and use of real-time city data in public spaces.

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Understanding Silica Dust Exposure in the ACT Construction Industry

ThinkPlace Global, Lachlan Tinnock & Max Lee-Abbott

Image: WorkSafe ACT

While most people within the ACT construction industry are aware of the dangers of silica dust exposure, the uptake of correct safety practices is often slow and sometimes inadequate. Without proper precautions, silica dust can cause irreparable lung damage and even death, so WorkSafe ACT strived to expand their understanding about worker behaviours and attitudes in the industry to help lay the foundation for future safety interventions.

The resulting research project explores the behaviour of ACT construction workers regarding silica dust safety, explaining the multi-faceted challenges and pressures on workers and businesses that are hampering safe practices.

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BEST IN CLASS: PALM – Breathing New Life Into Asthma Treatment

Monash University – Engineering & Monash University – Design Health Collab

Image: Monash University

Globally, over 400 million people suffer from asthma, yet the classic “blue puffer” has not seen innovation in nearly 70 years. Designed by the Design Health Collab and Engineering teams of Monash University, PALM redefines the future of asthma treatment with a patient-centred solution leveraging innovative microfluidic technology.

A tailored, easy-to-use and data-driven experience breathes new life into inhaled therapy. PALM helps users reduce medication use, improve the efficacy of their treatment and manage their own complex health routine. With Australia having the highest rate of asthma per capita in the world and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) the country’s 5th leading cause of death, the research will help reduce the 13 million missed school days for children with asthma and improve the livelihood of COPD sufferers. 

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Browse all 2023 Australian Good Design Award Winners 

Explore the Good Design Index and be inspired by innovative projects across the Design Research space and beyond!

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