At a glance

Cobalt is one of Australia’s leading product development and engineering groups. We are a talented bunch of doodlers (industrial designers), tinkerers (engineers) and problem solvers (project leaders). We work together with clients from all over the world to bring ideas to life as beautiful, user-centred products.

Formed in 1996, our team is led by Principals Steve Martinuzzo, Jack Magree and Warwick Brown. Over this time, we have undertaken more than 1000 unique projects; growing from two employees, to a high calibre team of over 20 people.

Our Team

At Cobalt we believe design is collaborative and inclusive; it’s not about individualism and exclusivity. We believe good design happens by expert people working as a team – all focussed on achieving a great outcome.

Cobalt embraces our culture of teamwork through a variety of factors; such as our flat organisational structure to share responsibilities and roles; keeping our core skills high so that we can rely on each other when needed; early dialogue and input from suppliers; and direct involvement with clients.

We welcome (and insist on) broad input into the design process; from within our internal teams; from the various stakeholders within our clients’ organisation; and from expert suppliers who will eventually be involved in the product’s manufacturing.

Operationally, each project is managed by one of our senior designers or engineers (Project Leader). This person leads our team and is responsible for achieving the project’s technical, creative and timing objectives.  They are the client’s primary point of contact. The Project Leader is assisted by a Commercial Manager who provides logistics, accounts, invoicing and internal budget support. And in addition, a Principal will remain across the project, and will assist wherever necessary, including where a client has any concerns with the project’s direction.

Awards

Cobalt is a recognised and highly credentialed firm within Australia’s design, start-up and entrepreneurial sectors.

Our ultimate measure of success is the commercial performance of products we develop for our clients. Along the way we are honoured to have our work recognised with numerous design, innovation and professional awards. Recent notable examples of these are listed (right).

Our Beliefs

Here at Cobalt, we believe that designers have a social responsibility to improve the world that we live in. And whilst we know design needs to produce 100% commercially positive results for our clients, we believe doing good through design is not just possible, its good business.

So, several years ago we made a start and created a blog about socially responsible design; lessbydesign.org.  At its heart socially responsible design is about less waste, less resources and less hardship – hence ‘less by design’.

Our beliefs as captured within our 8 Tenets of Good Design flavour how we approach projects; and how we organise ourselves. Circumstances constantly change, but our core tenets will always guide our design process and creative solutions.

As well as creativity, good design requires teamwork, discipline, precision and attention to detail. At Cobalt we focus on clear design thinking; the imagination to ask ‘what if?’ and the ability to listen and passionately advocate a position.

Our Story

Cobalt was established by Steve Martinuzzo and Jack Magree. Steve and Jack studied industrial design together at RMIT in the mid 1980s – with other contemporary alumnae Ian Wong (Monash University) and Hugo Davidson (Knog).  They formed a strong personal and working connection which eventually lead them to form their own group in 1996. By the end of the 1990’s Cobalt’s team had expanded to six.

In 2001 another RMIT classmate Warwick Brown joined the group. Warwick had previously been the lead designer for a company whose seats were found in stadiums across the world. Also in this year Cobalt acquired the business assets of Niche Design Group; effectively doubling in staff numbers and becoming CobaltNiche.

Through the early 2000s the group experienced solid growth, and industry recognition through acquiring numerous Australian and international awards, as well as building a solid proportion of off-shore clients.

In 2005 the company moved to our own custom renovated building in North Melbourne.  This allowed us to invest in the building and tune our workspaces and workshop to suit our unique mix of creative and technical work.

Through the current decade we have strengthened our position within the top tier of Australian product design consultancies and expanded globally. Increasingly we undertake larger-scale projects with multinational organisations such as Heartsine, Alstom and Agilent.

At the front end we actively provide design strategy to integrate design and innovation within a client’s business and not just as an ad-hoc product. And at the tail-end, we have expanded our CAD and CG-imaging computing capacity and expertise so that we can work closely with clients over the full development process.

Design is a Teamsport

Each of our people make Cobalt what it is- from our interns to our experienced project leaders; from our design specialists to our switched-on admin crew. We work for each other as much as we work for our clients’ projects.

On the basis that amazing outcomes result from great teamwork, Cobalt engaged Leading Teams to help us set collective values that define our culture and behaviours. Another cornerstone of Leading Teams is establishing effective communications where regular feedback is welcomed.

Luckily for us, we work in an amazing space where each day brings a new opportunity to do something amazing and new. Being a product development professional is not a job; it’s a vocation which constantly revitalises and engages our spirits. But as fun as it is to work here, we also love to share our other passions, whether these are travel, sports, family, food or music.