I-CONIC Australian Design

  • 2021

  • Design Research

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Designed In:


This design research project and enduring archive contributes to the understanding of the practice of industrial design in Australia. It includes an oral history film series, a collection of significant objects, new archive images and artefacts, curation and design of a public exhibition, and a permanent online 3D virtual tour.

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Image: Emily Dimozantos
Image: Emily Dimozantos
Image: Tim Isaacson
Image: Emily Dimozantos
Image: Tim Isaacson
Image: Emily Dimozantos
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  • Designers in Australia have contributed significantly to our culture and society through innovations with global impact. There is limited recognition of this. International research publications rarely reference Australian design. Research and published resources on the history, scope, scale and impact of industrial design practice in Australia are rare. Rarer still are the oral histories of our significant designers, placing the work in context, and sharing insights into their design process and practice. Design museum collections worldwide have little or no award winning Australian products. Our museums collections of locally designed products are limited and items are rarely on public display.

  • The ever expanding research collection of over 1900 objects was surveyed and analysed to enable the selection of the 126 innovative products in the I-CONIC exhibition. The objects were chosen to represent the practice of industrial design and as a result more than one hundred outstanding designers were represented. In particular the research documents the work of Australia's most significant designers and features oral histories from Mary Featherston, Phillip Zmood, Celina Clarke, Su San Cohn, Phillip Slattery, Simon Ancher and Anita Dineen. The innovative solution was the delivery of an accessible, permanent, online 3D virtual exhibition and archive.

  • The impact of this research is the creation of a permanent 3D virtual archive, accessible 24/7 globally for the future study of Australian industrial design. The oral histories produced for I-CONIC record for the first time the insights and reflections of some of our most significant designers. Another significant outcome of the research is to assist in the education of the public as to what designers actually do. They are invited to look at familiar everyday objects in a totally different way to understand where they come from. Significantly, at this time, international researches can now study Australian design remotely.

  • The loss of our Australian design heritage is occurring at a rapid pace as industry closes down and products go to land fill. The notable examples of an industrial designers practice, the products, should be preserved to enable future study. The research scope included over 300 designers and 1900 objects with the exhibition featuring over 100 designers and the iconic products that they have designed. The commission of the film series was a direct result of COVID-19 as visitors would be unable to visit the exhibition at Design Tasmania. The research surveyed the profession comprehensively and identified the individuals responsible for each of the objects featured in the exhibition and 3D virtual tour and online archive. The research has enhanced the understanding of the scope and scale of industrial design practice in Australia.