BODW 2018

Melbourne takes centre stage at BODW

Earlier this month Cobalt participated in the biggest EVER overseas delegation of Australian designers when we attended Business of Design Week (BoDW) in which Melbourne was the partner city.

Held annually in Hong Kong, BoDW is one of the world’s major design forums drawing together design practitioners and business leaders that give this conference a sharp focus. Given its location, BoDW is seen as the most influential design link into China and Asia.

Each year BoDW features a global design city or country, and this year it was Melbourne’s turn to step into the spot light; joining an exclusive shortlist of previous partners, including Italy, Sweden, Chicago and Barcelona. This involved a high number of Australian design and business speakers, as well as occupying the central space within the exhibition hall.  According to Principal Jack Magree “Becoming BoDW’s partner city has taken the combined effort of designers,  professional bodies and government agencies. Cobalt are proud to have worked towards this for the last 4 years and how when viewed as a collective, Australia’s design capabilities are equal to any in the world”.

Cobalt exhibited within the Melbourne Pavilion featuring our 10 years of design development with KeepCup, whilst Abigail Forsyth, KeepCup’s founder was named as a Summit speaker for Brand Design.

The initiative for Melbourne to be featured at BoDW was solidly supported by Creative Victoria, the state government’s agency that manages design policy. Victoria’s renowned design industry employs more than 136,000 people within the state and generates more than $5 billion for the economy.

Cobalt was represented at BODW 2018 by Principal and co-Founder Steve Martinuzzo, who was also assigned as a ‘Victorian Design Ambassador’ during the event.

Steve’s highlights of this year’s BoDW included:

  • Speaking to dozens of people each day about our design process, the KeepCup journey and building connections from Hong Kong and into China and beyond.
  • Visiting clients and suppliers on a side trip to mainland China.
  • Hearing Tony Chambers former editor Wallpaper* magazine; and his outlook of ‘Positive Discomfort’ a fresh take on going outside your comfort zone to keep complacency at bay.
  • Listening to Melbourne’s own Leah Heiss’s presentation. Leah is the designer behind BlameySaunders’ Facet hearing aid and other projects which replace disability for desirability. Her approach shows how collaboration and thinking differently can lead to stunning results.
  • Aurel Aebi, co-founder of ‘atelier oï’ who converted a rundown motel in rural Switzerland into a funky and spacious design studio, and uses a beautiful boat on a nearby lake for distraction-free client presentations.  Very Swiss, but I’m now on the hunt for something similar around Bonnie Doon.
  • Attending the official opening of the Melbourne Design Pavilion by Victoria’s Governor, Her Excellency Linda Dessau and Design Minister Martin Foley.
  • Seeing the excited (and sometimes terrified!) faces of visitors and their children when confronted by a 3m long baby T.Rex dinosaur as he regularly stalked around the Melbourne Pavilion.

More News+ articles

Cobalt: By The Numbers

Cobalt: By The Numbers

Since founding Cobalt, we’ve worked on a huge number and variety of amazing design projects.

So along the way we’ve also amassed a heap of metrics which, in their own way, give an insight into the design process and our approach to product development.

At Cobalt believe that knowledge is vital for excellence and evaluation is critical to improvement. The backbone and central-nervous system of Cobalt’s project and company information resides within our custom database system, Lynx. Within Lynx every number, fact and byte of operational information is stored, and each bit of these can be accessed and analysed in moments.

So what started off as a proper analysis a couple of months ago, has been added to by pulling together some of the more quirky statistics we’ve collected over our first 22 years of design practice. So, if you’re into numbers here are many to enjoy! And for the rest, we hope you have a giggle at some of the more amusing facts we’ve pulled out.


  • Number of Principals: 3
  • Principal/Director changes since foundation: 0
  • Period that Cobalt’s Principals studied Industrial Design together at RMIT University: 1983 to 1987

Project Experience

  • Projects since 1996: 1200+
  • Years of combined product development experience across all staff: 218
  • Number of individual moulded, tooled or manufactured parts designed by Cobalt that were commissioned for production last calendar year: 294
  • Average number of proposed stages per year: 392
  • Average number of client projects actively operating at any one time: 29
  • Total number of clients since 1996: 476

Records & Recognition

  • Design awards and industry prizes won or awarded: 30+
  • Net Promoter Score (2012 survey): 65
  • Highest production volume design: 8,000,000+ KeepCups
  • Cobalt designed the product which has been in longest continuous production – the Icon (Nylex) 35L Slide Top Bin): 1996

Serious Processes & Facilities

  • Individual timesheet records across all staff last calendar year: 9565
  • Typical ratio of tasks in a full new product development (NPD) project:
    • Design and Insights: 26%
    • Engineering and CDP+Alpha prototypes: 46%
    • Resolution: 17%
    • Transfer to Production and Beta prototypes: 7%
    • Marketing Support (Animation): 5%
  • Dollars invested in Cobalt’s prototyping workshop since 2016: $200,000
  • Metres of 3D-Printing filament used inhouse annually: 5000+
  • Hours spent on staff training last calendar year: 2035

Global Focus

  • Proportion of international clients versus Australian clients: 30:70 approx
  • Average number of countries Cobalt crew have lived or travelled in: 12
  • Days Cobalt staff were on site with global suppliers in Asia, 2017: 53

Connected Teamwork

  • Average age of Cobalt’s team members: 34
  • Percent of tertiary educated consulting staff: 100%
  • Languages in addition to English, spoken by Cobalt team members: 6
  • Percent of Cobalt staff who regularly walk, ride or public-transport to work: 63%
  • Total annual meals enjoyed by Cobalt crew at Friday pub lunches: 411
  • Careers supported through internships with Swinburne/other universities: 15

More News+ articles