Local heroes of design in the ACT

In considering the AGDA Hall of Fame and the eminent designers it has recognised at a national level, I was struck by how many of my local heroes would possibly not meet the criteria for a national award. Despite being tireless workers and advocates for our profession and our association.

These pioneering and passionate designers established design awareness and standards in our city and our region. In the dim distant days known as the end of the last millennium.

Canberra’s period of expansion into a true capital city really starts in the Menzies era. A few of these studios were there. In the 1960s and 1970s.

Often these unsung local designers worked on designs that would have influence further afield. Designers in the ACT often work on government information campaigns and publications. They were usually not credited on government work. Yet their work was available at the Government Book Shops in each capital city.

They won awards on occasion. But mostly they were working to improve communication in our local community and our nation. They brought professional design, illustration and photography, production management and design thinking to communication projects.

I thought an article on the AGDA website would be a good place to start to recognise these contributions to our profession. So here’s a brain dump of memorable ACT studios, their founders and noted design leaders. Some predate AGDA (pre-1989). Some are still working. Some are retired. Some studios have passed into new hands to continue the work of their founders.

Some were members of AGDA ACT and became dynamic regional office holders and committee members. I’ve added asterisks to most AGDA ACT presidents and secretaries. Some hosted – and virtually funded – the AGDA Awards on the 2 occasions they were held in Canberra (so they get 2 asterisks).

It’s listed in a loose chronological order by studio (so some designers are named a couple of times). There is nowhere to find this stuff, except in people’s heads. In this case, mine. So please forgive oversights, inaccuracy and misspellings. But also alert me to errors and I’ll add corrections.

There are always new studios, small businesses and microbusinesses starting up, so I’ve just listed a number of design studios that have had longevity and influence that I can recall.

Why not write your own article about influential designers in your region? It’s a way of recognising your local heroes, your friends and your AGDA mates!

Australia Information Service / Australia Now magazine / Ron Butters

AGPS Design Studio / Australian Government Publishing Service / 1966–1994 / John Pitson, David Marshall, Kim Young, Jim Gray, Marjorie Lovelock, David Whitbread*, Emmanuella Blereau, Will Bloem, Ross Pulbrook, Jennifer Prosser*, Louise Dews, Julie Hourigan, Mandy Orr, Brian Dunbar, Gaye Paterson, Michael Gardiner, Christopher Storey, Tan Smerasuta, Sarah Twigg-Paterson, Chris Griffiths, Trevor Warren, Louise Saw, Pier Vido, Rosanna Kobiela Horn, Barbara van der Linden, Bev Tunks, Cate Adams, Charles Lynch, Malcolm Tresider, Michael Jago, Susie Carcary, Tania Bunk, Tony Kelly, Vivien Clarke, Vjeko Novinc, Nicole Rowney, Peta Michielsen, Racheal Bruhn, Rocco Fazzari, Chris Black, Jean Penny, Jenni Marshall, Judy Trevillian, Marcus Flux, Anne Wakefield, Andrew Rankine, Steven Hall, Susan Olle, Darryl Butler, Adelina La Vita, Catriona Niven, Philipa Lawrence, Peter Rietdyk, Ian Bullman, Keith Philip, Bronwen Davies, Peter Bray, Angela Imbriano

ANU Design / Australian National University / Adrian Young*, Kathie Griffiths*

Adgraphics / Gary Deveson, Dawn Porritt, Vincent de Gouw

Quantum Ideas Bureau / Frank Arnold**, Anita Fitton

Cangraphics / Alan Pritchard, David Owen

NLA Publishing / National Library of Australia / Andrew Rankine, Louise Dews, Liz Faul, Kathryn Wright

The Artworks / SpinCreative / Chris Gray*

CRIA / Communication Research Institute of Australia / Maureen McKenzie-Taylor, Simon Flynn

George Mackintosh Design / George Mackintosh

Griffiths & Young / Adrian Young**, Kathie Griffiths**, Liam Camilleri, Rachel Thomas

RTM / Rochfort Thomas Mackintosh / Craig Rochfort*, Richard Thomas*, Trish Mackintosh

Metrographics / Theo Politis

Bill Pearson Design / Design One Solutions / Bill Pearson*

Wingrove & Wingrove / Ian Wingrove, Rosie Wingrove

Art Direction Creative / Brendan O’Donnell

Grey Advertising / John Attard

Design Edge / Fiona Edge

Andrew Rankine Design / Andrew Rankine

Racheal Bruhn Design / Racheal Bruhn

Swell Design / Colin Burk, Darryl Butler, Marcus Flux, Anton Scott-Cameron

Mirrabooka Marketing & Design / Julie Hamilton

Design Emergency / Jennifer Prosser, Judy Stevenson, Bronwyn Hine, Marie Lake

Spectrum Graphics / Bill Liang

Gri.D / Kathie Griffiths, Liam Camilleri**

Zoo / Pawl Cubbin, Clinton Hutchison, John Ruman

Wakefield Bevanda Design / Anne Wakefield

Looking Glass Press / Sharon France, Liz Faul

Cre8ive / James Willson, John Benton, Alberto Florez

Papercut / Claire Connelly

Paper Monkey / Ben Lopez, Lester Bunnell, Toni-Lee Lopez, Liam Camilleri*, Jonathan Willis, Amanda Brierly

Giraffe / Damian Monaghan, Steve Hugler

CouchCreative / Louise Scrivener, Mike Sarah

GooseBumps / Anthony Nankervis

Kandream / Dean Groening

Meta Design / Matthew Nobel, George Rosisnanyi, Paul Slinger

Questacon Design Studio / Joan Purcell, Gillian Carden, Gosia Sikorski, John Richardson, Sharon Smith, Jeff Barnes, Peter Bray

Signature / Brett and Bronwyn Hatherley, Philippa Pratten

Design education in the ACT has also been led by passionate designer educators. So here follows a brief list of tertiary institutions and some design educators associated with them. Both design courses started in the 1980s.

University of Canberra / Mary-Jane Taylor*, Julie Bradley, Bob Miller, David Whitbread*, Anthony Cahalan, Grant Ellmers, Philippa Hayes, Andrew Sikorski, Trish Holleley, Geoff Hinchcliffe, Dawn Porritt, Lucy Atkinson, Tania Bunk, Mikaela Danvers

Canberra Institute of Technology / Bruce Riddell, Jim Sullivan, Ray Moss, Steven Hall, Karyn Milne, David Whitbread*, Roy Torkington, Brett Butler, Suzie Torkington


David Whitbread
AGDA Board Member