Product Design

product design Zena O'ConnorThe Shillito Design School provided an excellent training in design. I have been able to put this training to good use in a range of different contexts including product design, graphic design, furniture design as well as textile design. Shillito’s was a landmark design school inspired by the curriculum and ideologies of the Bauhaus and the Ulm School of Design. You can find out more about the Shillito Design School in this publication.

Back in the late 1980s, I was employed as Porduct Designer at the Powerhouse Museum. Before being promoted and taking on the task of rebranding the Powerhouse Shop, I designed a large range of products. Among these product designs were quirky 3D Christmas decorations, die-cut from holographic paper and flat-packed. They were designed to be easily assembled and to appeal to children. At the time, the rectangular Powerhouse logo featured simplified geographic elements and the logo lent itself well to products for children including fridge magnets and patches.

At SBS, I designed a range of program-related products including a range specifically for the Millennium TV series. This series, subtitled ‘Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World’, was presented by anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis and featured music by Hans Zimmer.  The range of products, which featured the striking Millennium imagery, included t-shirts, watches, journals and a coffee mug.  I was extremely chuffed when the producer of the series Richard Meech wrote “Thank you so much for the box of Millennium goodies. They are wonderful – both in design and quality of workmanship. My personal favourite is the coffee mug but I also like the watch – the first one I’ve ever worn.” Whilst at SBS Television, I also helped Joanna Savill and Maeve O’Mara with the first two editions of the SBS Guide to Ethnic Eating.

I designed a range of point-of-sale gift cards for Bristol & Brooks. A key design requirement was to keep the cards to one or two colours maximum to minimise cost. The designs featured a traditional, conservative imagery as well as quirky images to suit the broad customer base of Bristol & Brooks, Chifley Plaza Sydney.

I’ve always had a love of furniture and products made from wood. I designed and made a hall table as well as a side table for personal use. Both are made from recycled mahogany and I worked under the direction of master cabinet-maker Richard Crosland.  Richard and his son Adam Crosland run wood-working classes and you can find out more about Richard Crosland and these classes at his website.