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.

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Hack My Van

Cobalt Design Wins Mercedes Innovation Competition With Mobile “CodeCamp”

Pitched against five other shortlisted business ideas in an intense one-day ‘Hackathon,’ Cobalt’s winning ‘innoVito’ submission was announced by Philip Dalidakis MP, Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade.

Cobalt teamed-up with coding education leaders Code Camp for our submission which converts a Mercedes-Benz Vito van into a mobile code teaching environment in minutes. The winning concept includes a lightweight pull out pod which folds out in ‘transformer’ style into desks for up to 20 participants. Additionally, two 3D printers are stored to enable students to see and touch examples of their work. An optional power generator and inflatable shade enables classes and demonstrations to be conducted virtually anywhere.

The project was an ideal opportunity for Cobalt to apply our Design Thinking process to Mercedes’ brief. This involved the first step of engaging with educational specialists to understand the users real needs. True to the ‘hacking’ approach encouraged by the competition, the final submission was evolved by a tight but diverse team and a truly exploratory, iterative process.

According to Cobalt Principal Jack Magree, once a need was determined the solution became clear. “The challenge in Australia is to offer specialist hands-on educational experiences such as coding to children beyond, as well as within, the urban environment” said Magree. With this as a starting point, partnering with Code Camp was one of the easier aspects of the process. “Cobalt can design a physical pod and environment, but working together with Code Camp means we knew the concept can be delivered”.

Coding: The New Core Subject For Today’s Children

The importance of coding as a field of study for children is well established. However Australia currently lags many of other OECD countries who recognised the need earlier and now have significantly higher student participation rates. Code Camp have existing programmes that teach coding to students across Australia. Says Magree; “winning this competition accelerates our vision to enable educational experiences to be taken to rural and remote communities”.

Cobalt and Code Camp now commence the task of developing their pitch into a reality.

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