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Brandon Gien - Executive Director, Australian International Design Awards

Brandon Gien
'Industrial design is one of the most interesting and fascinating professions around today. You just need to look at the range of new products and services consumers are bombarded with every day.'

If there’s someone who really knows what’s going on in Australia’s industrial design scene it’s Brandon. Not only is he the executive director of the Australian International Design Awards, he’s also the general manager of Corporate Services for Standards Australia the nation’s peak developer of standards and guidelines for safe, reliable and quality products and systems.

Brandon studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Newcastle where he later graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design. He is currently completing a Doctorate in Environmental Design at the University of Canberra.

He has played a key role in restructuring the Australian International Design Awards over the last 10 years and is an avid promoter of Australian design and innovation. He is responsible for maintaining close and cooperative links between the design and manufacturing industry in Australia and internationally. In October 2007 Brandon was elected to the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) board, which provides him an important platform to further elevate Australian design internationally.

What should people know about industrial design?

Industrial design is one of the most interesting and fascinating professions around today. Design really is everywhere you look – it surrounds us and plays a very significant role in our everyday lives. You just need to look at the range of new products and services consumers are bombarded with every day.

How are you involved with the Australian International Design Awards?

I interact with industrial designers, product manufacturers and entrepreneurs who design, develop and distribute new products on the Australian market, and who submit these products to the Australian International Design Awards for assessment, recognition and promotion. The products submitted cover a wide range of sectors – consumer products, medical and scientific equipment, sport and leisure accessories, business and technology equipment, furniture and lighting, automotive, mining, and agriculture. We also have a student design category which enables us to recognise the brightest young designers in the country and promote their work to potential employers in the design industry in Australia and overseas.

What does a designer need to do to make their mark?

They need to have a passion for design excellence in every area – innovation, design intelligence, originality, creativity, functionality, safety, design for manufacture, ergonomics and design for the environment. All these factors have to be invested in the design of a product to give it the best chance of being recognised at the Australian International Design Awards. Getting these factors right when designing an often complex product comes with years of experience and absolute dedication to achieving excellence in design. This can be very difficult as designers have many factors to consider, such as budgets, time frames and challenging clients.

What makes a design stand out to the judging panel?

Innovation, creativity and originality are key to making a product stand out from the crowd and be recognised by the judges. Judges often look for the ‘X’ factor in a product and the ones that get recognised are those that tick all the boxes.

Is it difficult to get a job in industrial design?

Like any other profession, the hardest thing is getting a foot in the door. The most practical advice for design graduates is to put together a professional portfolio of their work to showcase their creative talents. Also, students need to enter awards and gain exposure for their work. There are a number of excellent design award programs and competitions in Australia and overseas, and they are a great way to get your name out there. How are Australian industrial designers perceived overseas? Australian industrial designers are very well respected overseas and continue to make their mark on the global design scene. Generally, Australian designers have a reputation for developing high-technology and low-volume products that require a high degree of technical design solutions, such as medical and scientific products.

What is the best thing about working in industrial design and the Australian International Design Awards?

Looking at the world through the eyes of a designer is wonderful. I also enjoy the diversity. One day we will be looking at the design of a new kettle, the next day a new car, boat, fridge, bicycle or chair. The most rewarding part of the job is to see designers recognised for their talent in creating products that society takes for granted.

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