Australian International Design Awards

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The Australian International Design Awards is an industry body established by the Industrial Design Council of Australia (IDCA), founded in 1958. The awards are Australia's only national design awards for industrial design. Since 1991, the Australian International Design Awards has been a division of Standards Australia.

In 2007 the Australian Design Awards expanded its entry criteria to include all professionally designed products on the Australian market, including products designed in Australia. From 2007, the Australian Design Awards became known as the Australian International Design Awards to reflect the global nature of the awards.

The Australian International Design Awards has been recognised by the Commonwealth Government and the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design[1] as a promotional body for the Australian design industry.


There are three types of accolades issued by the Australian International Design Awards,[2] they are:

  • Australian International Design Mark (recognising Good Design)
  • Australian International Design Award (recognising Design Excellence)
  • Australian International Design Award of the Year (recognising the best product of the year)

Special Awards include:

  • Award for Excellence in Sustainable Design[3]
  • Powerhouse Museum Design Award and Selection[4]
  • Wheels Automotive Design Award[5]


In 1958 the Industrial Design Council of Australia (IDCA) was established[6] funded by the Commonwealth Government. The goal was to educate manufacturers and consumers on the value of design, encourage and promote high standards of design in manufactured goods.

From 1964 Good Design Labels began to appear on products and the Australian Design Index became a register of the best designed products in Australia. A panel of experts reviewed items for inclusion in the Index. Products meeting the criteria received the Good Design Labeland other manufacturers were given constructive criticism on how to improve their products.

In 1964, the IDCA opened the first Australian Design Centre in Melbourne with a special exhibition of selected products from the Australian Design Index. Federal and state government funding helped establish a new Design Centre in Sydney, with more centres to follow in other cities.

In 1967 the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design was set up, supported by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with the aim of promoting greater awareness of good design in Australian engineering. The inaugural Prince Philip Prize was awarded in 1968. Over 90 entries were received and the winning entry was a self-propelled grain header, designed by Kenneth Gibson. The Prince Philip Prize continued for 10 years.

The IDCA faced funding difficulties in the mid-1970s and was forced to close temporarily in 1976. A new funding injection from the Commonwealth Government helped the Council reopen and a new 'innovation' recognition program was introduced.

Recognising not only high quality but innovative Australian designed products, the Australian Design Award (ADA) program became a valuable promotional tool for manufacturers and designers and provided a source of revenue for the IDCA to continue its operations. The Prince Philip Prize continued to be awarded, but only to products which had received the ADA.

During this time, publicity was at an all-time high. Televised coverage of the Awards presentation on ABC TV reached audiences of over 4 million and in 1979, the first annual yearbook of ADA winners was published. For a recognition program, the industry could not ask for more.

For the next two decades, however, continuing funding issues, dwindling industry support and a lack of clear direction plagued the IDCA. In 1987 in an effort to reinvigorate the movement, the Government re-launched the IDCA as the Australian Design Council and the Prince Philip Prize was folded, leaving the ADA as Australia's top design accolade.

In 1991, control of the Australian Design Council and the ADA program moved to Standards Australia. Under Standards Australia, the ADA program continued to run, but the Australian Design Council was disbanded in 1993. New formats and incentives for the ADA program such as the Australian Design Mark certification scheme were trialed during the second half of the '90s without success. In 1997 a revamped format was introduced to the Awards, using an online application form and first round internet shortlisting. Itm attracted more than 100 applications. The first Presentation Night was held at the Metro Theatre in Sydney. In 1998, profession-based categories were introduced.

However, the program was threatened by significant operating costse. The 1999 program was put on hold while Standards Australia explored other options to secure the future of the awards. The majority of staff was made redundant and for the first time in many years, no Design Awards were presented in Australia. The Design Institute of Australia was approached to take over the program but the financial commitment to posed too great a risk.

Armed with a new business plan and financial model, the Board of Standards Australia approved another year for the awards. For the next few years, the ADA continued to grow in standing and support, buoyed by financial stability. A student design category was launched in 2002 supported by Dyson Appliances Australia and in 2004, product-focussed categories were introduced.

In 2008, on the 50th anniversary of rewarding design and innovation excellence in Australia, internationally designed products available for sale in Australia were allowed to enter the Awards for the first time. This bold move was aimed at raising the stakes for good design once again, allowing Australian design to be benchmarked against the best in the world. With the ongoing support of the design industry and Standards Australia, this opens the door to the next chapter in the illustrious history of the Design Awards.[7]

Previous winners[edit]

Previous winners include: Caroma's Invisi Series II Toilet Suite[8] and Caroma's H2Zero Cube Urinal,[9] Qantas A380 Economy Class Seat[10] designed by Marc Newson, Ford XE Falcon, 1987 Mitsubishi Magna wagon,[11] Holden VT Commodore, Ford AU Falcon, Ford Territory, Holden Commodore VE Sportswagon and Ute, Blueye Sport Goggle designed by Paul Cohen, the Victa Lawn Mower, the Bionic Ear, the winged keel, the VentrAssist Artificial Heart, the Sunbeam Mixmaster, the Test Series Cricket Helmet, the RØDE Podcaster microphone,[12] the Dolphin Torch and the Enzie Spiral Stair.


External links[edit]