Melbourne Design Awards - City Design Awards

Design Thought Leaders

We've asked a range of leaders from business and the design industry to share their thoughts on design. Their responses fall into three topics

Q. Why is design important?
Q. Why should a designer enter?
Q. Why should a brand manager or design commissioner enter?

Q. Why is design important

“We live in what is becoming a smaller and more competitive world every day.
In virtually every market that we operate in there exists local competitors who are perfectly capable of manufacturing products such as ours. They have the skills, raw materials and equipment that enable them to produce perfectly functional products that would satisfy the needs of many consumers.

But a select few companies have risen above the pack to become world leaders. Their brand names have become known and respected world wide and they command a price premium. So, what sets them apart and enables them to succeed and prosper?

There are a number of factors, but the key one is design. These companies have made good, innovative design a priority. Their products are designed for manufacture, which makes them competitive. Most importanly though, their products incorporate features and elements that make them stronger, lighter, safer, more egonomic, more efficient, more durable, more adaptable and, very importantly, more attractive and more desirable. In particular it is the latter, less tangible benefits that enable the products and their companies to stand out from the crowd.”

Alistair Murray, Managing Director, Ronstan


"Functional design enables a process, Practical design improves a function and Beautiful design lifts the spirit.  In a world where we are offered 22 different types of milk in the supermarket, it is design that differentiates the function from the product, it defines the difference in ways that inspire. Great design has so many facets that lift your mood in the way you look at it, feel it and interact with it, these include product design, industrial design, packaging design, advertising design, interface design, interaction design, and service design. With so many design elements all combined to set the practical and aspirational value of any item we consider to purchase, from Milk to Laptops, from Electricity Providers to Airlines.

Design is a language, it applies strict rules that structure the application of form, layout, typography, colours and textures, yet these rules are frequently broken and redefined it remains that the process of constant change generates the flow of ideas and it is the strength and quality of enduring design that underpin the longevity and inspirational qualities."

Crispin Blackall,  Business & Commercial Operations, Network & IT Operations, Telstra


“Good design moves people. It creates emotional responses and calls us to action. If it’s not done well, it directly impacts businesses and their bottom lines.

In the online world, well thought through design executions are even more critical, as users are exploring a space that has been created for a non-linear journey. A website, for example, is not like a physical printed brochure which people can turn over in their hands and explore methodically. Online they can go straight to the information or experience they’re after, but the design needs to show them the way – they can’t turn the website over in their hands to figure it out. It is imperative to make this journey easy and fulfilling for them to explore, engage, purchase, sign-up or make an enquiry without frustration – if not, they will simply leave and visit a competitors site where they can do this more easily.

I’ve said before that I’m not a web designer; I’m a user advocate. What makes my role exciting and fulfilling is anticipating the users’ desire to explore online and working out the best designed paths to help them get there. In the end, it comes down to the fact that good design makes things happen.”

Zoe Warne, Co-founder & Director, Creative Services, August


"Outstanding interaction design can not only sell products, it can be the product. Companies like Nike exemplify this with Nike+, and their business benefits greatly as a result.

An important facet of design is 'interaction design', the way that a businesses customers interact with your product, services and brand. In the digital realm, quality of interaction design is paramount. It not only differentiates a business from it's competitors, but sets the expectation of that customer for ever. First impressions count, and often a first impression now is with your Web site, or online marketing. Better make it good."

Tim O'Neill, Joint Managing Director - reactive


“Have you seen the Mad Men episode where Don Draper is pitching to the Kodak executives to win the Kodak Wheel business.

He takes the rather dry US businessmen through the storyline created by a slideshow using their new Wheel device attached to the slide machine.

And at the end of the pitch he says ‘Gentlemen, this isn’t a Wheel, it’s a Carousel.’ Same product, different name and perhaps the difference between global sales success and also ran results.

Design of course play exactly the same role. It adds a story, creates perceived value, moves from bland to brand, creates demand, gives us something to admire and creates the desire to spend more than the demand a generic may bring.

What a wondrous way to spend the day. To create design for commercial effect."

Russel Howcroft – ANZ, CEO, Y&R Brands.


"Design is essential for the survival of any business. Because effective design of products and services is what allows any business to understand the needs of its customers so that they can create solutions that are superior to alternatives. Almost all business is becoming global and ferociously competitive. Successful businesses are challenging their suppliers to assist them compete in this ferociously competitive world. Hence survival in business demands better and better designs.  

Design skills are seen as excellent when they achieve the best results efficiently. Good design is inclusive and engages everyone in the process to generate new ideas, new perspectives that continuously evolve better products and services. It is survival of the fittest and Darwin’s ideas around evolution apply to business. The best design will be selected and continuously improved whilst poor design will lead to extinction."

Russell Yardley ©


"Design is important as it brings the mix of the market and culture together - great design helps us have more meaning in our lives and makes things more useful.

Markets are local, culture is local so it makes sense to have the celebration of design local"

Mark Bergin - Creative Director - Melbourne Design Awards & A Thinking Company

"The implementation of quality design has a tremendous influence on the success and perception of a business. As designers we always try to innovate and think of a better future for our clients."

Paul Charlwood - DIA VIC comittee & Creative Director Charlwood Design


“Boutique hotel design means a lot more to Mr & Mrs Smith than the odd Philippe Starck light or Cole & Son wallpaper.  It is a multi-faceted approach to design which puts the function back into form and the comfort back into cool.  In our view, great design pays meticulous attention to the experience of the ‘subject’, both in terms of the moods and feelings it creates and the practical uses it facilitates. It’s not just about objects to be admired.

In a hotel context this will mean many things: a grand lobby with intimate seating; eye-catching and heat-absorbing roof rocks; bathroom mirrors that don’t fog up; bespoke installations from local artists; something as basic as adequate hanging space.

Smith is not locked into one dominant design aesthetic either – good, ‘sexy’ design is about quality, attention to detail, comfort and a catholic sense of stylishness rather than a narrow, ‘designer’ straightjacket.”
Simon Westcott - Managing Director - Mr & Mrs Smith

"Design is a strategic and commercial process that adds value, raises standards and improves results.  Companies that invest in design understand the importance of differentiating their brands, products, communications and environments."
James Harper - DIA VIC president

Q. Why should a designer enter the Melbourne Design Awards

"The Melbourne Design Awards provide a platform for both established and aspiring designers as well as design patrons to showcase their work to a broad audience including other design professionals as well as the general public. The awards program offers potential for collaboration with industry peers/ exposure to employers as well as connection with clients and future design commissions."

Tony Battersby - Director - SJB Architects

The Melbourne Design Awards provide a great new opportunity for Melbourne designers to be recognised in their field of expertise.  A broad range of categories means that projects are judged against like projects and the review process is sure to uncover some surprising results.
James Harper - DIA VIC president

The Melbourne design awards is a unique opportunity for a designer to have their work awarded not only by fellow designers but also the public. Winning a nationally awarded design prize is always great honour for a designer and exposes your work and talents to the world.

Paul Charlwood - DIA VIC comittee & Creative Director Charlwood Design

Q. Why should a brand manager or design commissioner enter the Melbourne Design Awards

"Brand Managers/ Design Commissioners  should always support and encourage quality Australian design and the employment of quality, Australian designers producing outstanding work. "

Paul Charlwood - DIA VIC comittee & Creative Director Charlwood Design


The Melbourne Design Awards recognises commissioners of design as well as designers.  Good design needs visionary clients and this is a great opportunity for design commissioners to submit the projects they are most proud of.  Winning a Melbourne Design Award raises the profile of commissioning companies and their products.
James Harper - DIA VIC president