Winning by Design

Design example: this is the PBR Banksia Park Brake. Image courtesy: PBR International Limited

The original rationale for the project was the need to stimulate Australian manufacturing, par­ticularly by development of Australian products. When the project was originally planned in 1984, It was obvious that Australian manufacturing needed to become attuned to world markets. It needed to become, not only internationally competitive, but international in outlook. This could not happen unless products being manufactured and mar­keted internationally were designed and developed in Australia.

The Winning by Design project was initiated to examine the strategic role of design in Australian industry, in particular as a component of successful international competition.


The Winning by Design project was initiated to examine the strategic role of design in Australian industry, in particular as a component of successful international competition. The objective of the project was to highlight the importance of design in manufacturing industries and to examine the role that design, in particular product or industrial design, had upon the performance, reliability and competitiveness of industrial products. Findings were developed Australia-wide.

The primary target audience for the project was government ministers and investment decision makers, including the directors and senior executives of manufacturing and related companies.

A second target audience was product decision makers, including designers, product managers and engineers, government officers and tertiary level educators


The Federal Government acknowledged that Australian product design and development was central to the internationalisation of Australian manufacturing. The project team made the following recommendations based on an overall combined government/industry strategy:

  • Government should develop projects and resources to promote the strategy
  • Manufacturers should use Australia’s strengths of resources and reputation to compete successfully in global niche markets
  • Focus on the product and use a team approach to product development
  • Use industrial design throughout the product development process
  • Appoint a senior corporate executive with responsibility for ensuring that this approach was maintained
  • Use existing assistance programs
  • Promote a positive image of Australian manufacturing to attract talented young people to the industry


  • The principal immediate achievement of the project was that it identified design as an exportable australian resource and made the manufacturing sector aware of design opportunities for Australian industry
  • Its findings meant that The Warren Centre could put far greater weight behind its advice to governments and industry to encourage the development of existing australian design resourceS, including design firms and design publications
  • While it is impossible to measure the direct and ongoing effects of the project, Australian manufacturing has changed in the last twenty years. Australia has moved from a ‘licensing’ mentality to the realisation that we can design and manufacture products for world markets very profitably
  • Companies such as Vision Systems, Cochlear, ResMed and Pacifica, as well as the whole automotive industry, are outstanding examples of this and manufacturing as a whole is now growing strongly. Whilst this cannot all be attributed to the project, there is no doubt that it was a major catalyst for change

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