Swinburne University of Technology is set to house the first "Living Lab" dedicated to design based at an Australian university.
Inspired by and in collaboration with the world's first Design Factory at Aalto University in Helsinki, Swinburne Design Factory will see teams of business, design, engineering and information technology students work on major, industry-sponsored projects.
"A Living Lab brings together end-users, researchers and companies in the early stage of product development to experiment with concepts and their potential value," said Professor Ken Friedman, Dean of Design. "This engages all the vital actors in a process that leads to breakthrough innovations for society, businesses and their customers.
At Swinburne Design Factory, students who aspire to a leading role in the global design business will have the freedom and resources to create genuine solutions for client needs, from idea generation and proof-of-concept to prototyping and testing. Project sponsors will gain access to design teams of six to ten students to solve challenging real world problems."
The Design Factory will initially operate at Swinburne's Prahran campus from August 2011. When housed in Swinburne's new $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Centre (AMC), set to open in 2013, it will provide students with a purpose-built teaching and learning environment reflecting Aalto Design Factory's unique mix of flexible teaching, meeting and social spaces.
Swinburne Design Factory will also include advanced workshop and prototyping facilities. Its location in the AMC will give students access to the Factory of the Future, boosting Australian capability in design for manufacturing.
"The Design Factory further cements Swinburne's place as the premier industry connected university in Australia," said Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Andrew Flitman. "Its location within the AMC provides yet another reason for industry to come and work with us - and ensures our design research will help inform and shape Australia's future knowledge-led industries into the 21st century."
Director of Aalto Design Factory Professor Kalevi Ekman has been appointed Adjunct Professor at Swinburne Faculty of Design. He will be a keynote speaker at the faculty's Strategic Design Conference in Melbourne in December.
Swinburne students are already working at the Aalto Design Factory. In September, three industrial design students will travel to Helsinki for one month to take part in the internationally recognised Product Development Project program.
Staff exchanges are also taking place, with regular visits between Helsinki and Melbourne. The Aalto and Swinburne Design Factories will collaborate on industry-relevant research in areas including product and service innovation, design anthropology and design thinking.