Most work as in-house designers, but there is also a strong and diverse network of consultants. Brisbane has changed dramatically in the last five years. Major international corporations have located their Asia Pacific operations in Brisbane and the Gold Coast for the proximity to Asia, access to the airport and lifestyle. Many home-grown firms have chosen to make Brisbane their global headquarters and undertake all of their new product development in Brisbane.

Firms such as Boeing, IBM, Filtronic, Hatch and Mills Tui have their regional head office in Brisbane. These companies nominate lifestyle, geographic location and a skilled workforce as the major reasons for their decisions.

Various Cooperative Research Centres are blossoming in Queensland, and institutions to foster the commercialisation of scientific research and development such as iLab and the Australian Institute for Commercialisation, have established headquarters in Brisbane.

Queensland’s traditional industry has been in mining or providing equipment for the industry as well as processing the state’s rural produce. While we continue to capitalise in those areas of strength, this has been changing over the last decade. The growth of electronics design and development in Queensland has been instrumental in the growth of industrial design.

Most of Queensland’s designers are in the Brisbane region, although some work in the Gold Coast, Mackay and Townsville. We have over thirty in-house designers, more than fifty work in approximately thirty consultancies, with the balance in related fields such as signage design, the building field, design education or computer aided design services. Small numbers develop their own products or furniture ranges.

About fifty designers graduate each year from courses run by Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University.

A core of graduates begin working in Queensland, whilst most head interstate or overseas for their initial experience. Queensland companies are increasingly employing industrial designers in-house or on a project contract basis.

Queensland’s industrial designers are aided in their work by an on-line network – a forum for news, discussion, education and pooling of resources, contacts and vital information about design. 

The online network was an initiative of the Design Institute of Australia as part of the Industrial Design Practice Networks. It was established to foster a vital community through the ease of email communications and an internet site.

By bringing together all of Queensland’s industrial designers in an open forum we have been able to give air to problems and questions with responses being fully debated by the entire design community. 

No designer is alone in the workplace, every designer has access to the experience of the whole network. The result is very healthy for designers and that is good for clients and employers.

We also have frequent functions to improve designers’ knowledge of materials, processes, suppliers, and all aspects of design, to broaden the experience of individual designers and to foster a strong design community.

I’m not fully conversant with the industrial design scene in other parts of Australia or New Zealand, but I am told constantly by others, who should know, that we have something special going on here.

We have a real community amongst our industrial designers. Email has once again made Brisbane a small town, so that we all know one another. It is certainly working. 

QMI Solutions is well known for its stereolithography rapid prototyping service, but now includes wax and SLS prototyping, as well as rotational moulding and metals, including magnesium. They also conduct product development management training, a wide range of consulting and contract research and development.

Their new Reality Works virtual reality centre is also set to impact on the development process in Queensland in the way rapid prototyping has before it.

To have such a world-class facility and their team on our doorstep is a coup for Queensland design.

In recent years designers educated in Queensland, who have gained industry experience interstate or overseas, are returning to Queensland for the lifestyle they left behind. Many still have interstate or offshore clients but choose to work from Queensland.

This trend has been made all the more possible with improvements in mobile communications and business acceptance of dealing with the right designer wherever they are located.

As a result, the calibre of Queensland designers has escalated in recent years – not only because of these overseas experienced designers but also because of the general increase in the quality of the entire design community.

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