Higher ground

29 September 2009
Joanne Cys FDIA, DIA National President.
Reprinted with permission from Artichoke
Joanne Cys FDIA, Design Institute of Australia (DIA) National President shares the background on forming an Australian Design Coalition to affect progressive change.



Melbourne (Australia) - Over the last few months the Design Institute of Australia, an Icograda Professional member, has been involved in the formation of the Australian Design Coalition (ADC).

The ADC presents an opportunity to achieve two of the DIA's strategic goals – to increase collaboration with kindred professional organisations and to raise the voice of design in relation to national government policy.

At the time of writing ten professional organisations were involved in the formation of the ADC.

In addition to the DIA, these organisations included the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), Australian Institute of Architects, Planning Institute of Australia's Urban Design Chapter, Australian Fashion Council (AFC), Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Craft Australia, Australian Craft and Design Centres (ACDC), Australian Network for Craft and Technology (ANAT) and the National Association for the Visual Artists (NAVA).

Two other organisations – Engineers Australia and Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) had also been identified as potential members.

The combined membership of the ADC organisations is in excess of 20,000 members and together the organisations represent constituents in excess of 70,000 design practitioners.

The Australian Design Coalition is dedicated to advancing Australian design.

It seeks to achieve greater support, recognition and valuing of Australian design by governments, the business community and the general public, through advocacy, research, development of model programs, policy development and the setting of professional standards.

It also aims to stimulate greater creativity, innovation and collaboration within the design sector and the application of strategic design approaches across all sectors.

Design, in this context, means the process of devising an innovative concept in response to technical, commercial, social, ethical, cultural, environmental and/or aesthetic requirements of a project. It is often a response to a brief proposed by a client and usually is intended to be realised through manufacture, production or construction.

The formation of the Australian Design Coalition has been based on genuine goodwill, cooperation and common purpose amongst the organisations involved.

The ADC will in no way compete with or replicate any of its member organisations' operations or activities.

ADC intends to occupy the high ground of a peak body to exert influence and lobby government.

The ADC will only act on issues of common interest to further to cause of design.

By doing this as a collective, the ADC will hold a far greater position of strength than any individual professional body ever could.

In June the ADC met in Canberra with representatives from the Council of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), members of university design and creative industry research centres from RMIT, QUT and UTS and represent¬atives of the major organisations for design education Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS), the Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association (IDEA) and the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (AASA).

The discussions were broad and wide-ranging but as with the ADC itself, there was a clear sense of common purpose amongst the attendees and a shared acknowledgement of the timeliness of collective endeavour to increase the Government's awareness of design.

Three key factors can be identified as the major contributors to the initiation of the ADC.

Firstly the dramatic increase of government policy and strategy relating to design in some states (most notably Victoria and Queensland and to some extent New South Wales) has not been refected at national level.

The recommendations of the National Innovation System Review Venturous Australia and the Federal Government's white paper response Powering Ideas – an Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century have offered a tantalising opportunity for design to be articulated in relation to innovation policy.

We have always known there is much work to be done in this area but maybe now we have a chance to direct our efforts towards getting innovation acknowledged as something other than science and technology.

Secondly in relation to the individual professional organisations that comprise the ADC it can be said that each are at a point in their respective development that renders each mature, confident and open-minded enough to understand that collaborative effort has a far greater chance of success than disparate individual endeavour.

Thirdly the nature of contemporary design practice itself signals the relevance of the formation of the ADC.

The ADC provides a forum for the design professional as a whole, with all its diversity, specialisations and approached to creative practice to coalesce.

The ADC's cooperative collective of design representation mirrors the emerging paradigm of design practice as a hybrid, collaborative, unrestricted and (hopefully) above all, brave and experimental.



This article is provided courtesy of Artichoke, the DIA's officially endorsed magazine.