Makers, Manufacturers & Designers: Connecting Histories

Intertwined Pathways through Design Education, Technical Training and Local Production in Australia

Histories of Australian design and histories of Australian manufacturing are usually considered separately. This separation does not reflect the collaborative activity that occurred between the Australian design and Australian manufacturing sectors in the second half of the twentieth century. During this period, designers had a distinct and evolving relationship with the manufacturing sector, which manifested in product development, production and educational contexts, particularly vocational educational contexts such as TAFEs and technical institutes.

The project turns attention to the specific relationship between Australian designers and the manufacturing sector, covering the period 1945-2007 (post World War II to the 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis). Attention will also be given to how this recent history prefigures contemporary struggles in local design and production contexts.

This is an investigation into a productive space in which skilled makers of all kinds worked collaboratively. At the essence of this inquiry is a focus on generative knowledge-sharing between designers, craftsworkers, technical assistants and tradespeople. The project considers: how did people communicate, what were the shared understandings? Moreover, how did people move through their employment pathways, across and between manufacturing, teaching, and creative fields? 

Associated Oral History Project

Makers, Manufacturers & Designers, undertaken with the National Library of Australia, Canberra. Interviews commenced November 2021 and will continue throughout 2022. Call for Interview Participants

Project Team

Project CI and Interviewer: Dr Jesse Adams Stein

Second Interviewer: Dr Nikki Henningham

Research Assistant: Enya Moore

Web design + visuals: Isabella Brown (Project website coming soon!)


This project is funded by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). Additional support has been provided by the University of Technology Sydney.