Monash University is embarking on an ambitious program to unite industry and technology through design research. The recent appointment of Professor Mark Armstrong as the Eva and Marc Besen International Research Chair in Design at Monash University will strengthen links between the university and international corporations. This position will allow Professor Armstrong to continue his very hands on role at Blue Sky one of Australia’s leading Industrial design companies and use his industry knowledge and contacts to contribute to the University’s studio based research capability. For the University this translates into transfers of methodologies and thinking that are integral in the Blue Sky holistic design approach to problem solving. For Blue Sky it creates a channel for deep investigative research into human behaviour and technologies that can be utilised to create design solutions and experiences for customers and end users. The role will allow Mark to follow a long standing passion to become more involved in significant design research programs. Long term it’s also beneficial for Blue Sky’s clients as the relationship that Mark now has with Monash University will foster exchanges of ideas and technologies between both organisations. A major element of the role is making connections for the University with key international design institutions and research partners. Mark will work alongside Associate Professor Arthur de Bono to develop long term design research strategies for the University design program. The initiative that will enhance the University’s growing international reputation in studio based design research. The vision is to undertake projects with Monash in the areas of sustainable public transport, Bio Tech/ Medical and human centered Interface Design. A key characteristic of this innovative program is that it is focused on deep research delivering tangible life changing outcomes. Monash Design is now actively seeking Phd and Masters candidates to work alongside Mark to realise this vision. The Faculty if Art Design & Architecture at Monash advocates the essential role of creative practice in enhancing lives. Dean of the Faculty, Professor Shane Murray, said “I am delighted to welcome Mark and eagerly anticipate his contributions as we develop integrated models for the social, cultural and environmental enrichment of our communities.”
Highlights in Armstrong’s career include designing for high profile Australian companies, Qantas and Cochlea as well as international companies such as Philips and Electrolux. Blue Sky’s commercial success is based on a holistic approach that considers more that just functionality or aesthetics. Armstrong comments: ‘These have been major milestones in my career and while both exciting and challenging… have been quite humbling experiences’.
Expanding on his interest in medical design Armstrong comments: ‘We are interested in developing designs in the Medical and Bio tech area which will assist patients in realising a greater level of physical comfort when using technology and contribute to promoting to their well-being’.
‘The thinking that distinguishes Blue Sky is the belief that a company must convey their brand promise to customers via every touch point. Design is no longer limited to narrow product offerings but encompasses every aspect of a company’s contact with its customers. We call this ‘Experience Design’ where the design delivery goes beyond a narrow production line thinking, that has typified the approaches to design in the past. Important to us is that the design delivery be considered within the contextual setting that relates to the experience of the end user. The implication of this in the rollout of any design brief, is that design is delivered in an integrated way so is taken through to all aspects of the branding and organizational strategy. In this way design takes on a completely new meaning, its empowerment drawing from the many design synergies within its contextual setting.’
The Blue Sky philosophy is all about design outcomes that focus on end user experience and creating value for clients and their customers. Armstrong maintains that business is successful when it has deep knowledge and understanding of customer needs.
Outlining his future vision when he takes up his position at Monash University, Armstrong comments: ‘ I’m very keen to continue my work in the Medical and Biotech category. It’s an area of significant challenge and has the opportunity for close industry collaborations with global companies whose head offices are here in Australia.
‘I’m also interested in putting together some international research collaborations with companies in Europe and the USA to ensure our research projects are based on world’s best practice in consumer product and appliance design’. Armstrong will be commencing his new position from April this year.
He comments: ‘There are a number of outcomes that make the position exciting for me. There will be the opportunity for exchanges of ideas and processes between the team at Blue Sky and the students and researchers at Monash. It gives me the opportunity to explore exciting and challenging ideas that under the normal commercially driven demands of a design practice, we rarely get to explore. I’m also attracted to the freedom provided by University research, with the possibility to investigate concepts and ideas that in industry would not be possible. I like the idea of pursuing risk taking investigations that have the potential to yield greater returns in terms of IP and revenue generation for the University’.
For more information and interview with Professor Mark Armstrong please contact: Marie Geissler 0416 285 727 02 9380 5510 [email protected]