A group of academics and industry leaders will lead a reestablished Australian Design Council, aiming to spur “design-led innovation” in the COVID-19 recovery. 

The council, which includes former Telstra CEO David Thodey AO and CommBank chairman Catherine Livingstone AO, says it will advocate to government and industry for better design, establish design awards, and offer input on policy and industry decisions.

The Australian Design Council, initially established in 1958 as the Industrial Design Council of Australia, disbanded in the mid ’90s after it became part of Standards Australia. Originally modelled on a UK council set up by Winston Churchill to assist Britain’s post-war recovery, the Council aimed to establish, maintain and promote high standards of design in manufactured goods.

The latest version will “lead the nation towards national prosperity and long-term growth using design-led innovation”, according to a statement released today.

“Good design, created by smart people in smart industries, is essential to a country that wants to grow and be prosperous,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison says in the statement.

“The envisaged Australian Design Council (ADC) is about inspiring Australian businesses to embrace design as a tool for growth.”

The ADC says it will have three main roles:

  1. Advocate to government and industry leaders about the role and value of design to help diversify Australia’s future economy.
  2. Embed design into Australia’s nation-building agenda and policy settings.
  3. Provide oversight to leverage Australia’s design capability into the nation’s future industry development.

A brief manifesto has also been released [pdf].

Members of the Australian Design Council. Supplied.

Council members

The Australian Design Council consists of:

  • Simonne Bailey, Global Head of Strategy and Managing Director of GFG Alliance’s property and funds management business, JAHAMA, owned by British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta;
  • Dr Stephanie Fahey, former CEO of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission — Austrade;
  • Peter Freedman AM, Founder and Chairman of RØDE Microphones;
  • Professor Roy Green, Emeritus Professor and Chair of the Innovation Council and former Dean of the UTS Business School, Chair of the Australian Government’s Innovative Regions Centre, CSIRO Manufacturing Sector Advisory Council, NSW Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council and Queensland Competition Authority, and current Chair of Port of Newcastle and the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub;
  • Andrew N. Liveris AO, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Dow Chemical Company;
  • Catherine Livingstone AO, Chair of the Commonwealth Bank, Chancellor of UTS and former Chair of CSIRO;
  • Edwina McCann, Editorial Director at Vogue and Chair of The Australian Ballet Foundation Board;
  • Giam Swiegers, Non-Executive Director for Aurecon and former CEO of Deloitte Australia;
  • David Thodey AO, former CEO of Telstra and current Chair of CSIRO.

Australian Design Council Executive Chair, Dr Sam Bucolo, said “After 60 years, we have decided to re-establish the Australian Design Council to address the challenges we are facing today. Design must play a major role in rebuilding our economy post-COVID-19 and the Council will shape how we create new and emerging areas for a strong competitive advantage through design.

“Our global counterparts are already doing this and now is the right time for Australia to accelerate the adoption of design in business.” 

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