By Patrick Avenell

The managing director responsible for the Australian International Design Awards, Brandon Gien of Good Design Australia, has been elected the President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Gien will be the first Australian lead the ICSID when he assumes control in 2013.

"My first priority will be to continue open dialogue with the broader international design community,” said Gien. “We need to make sure ICSID is able to adapt to the rapid changes taking place in the design profession, particularly the expanding fields of design such as service design, design strategy and user experience design.

“It is clear from the overall theme of this year’s World Design Congress that our world needs design. There is an unprecedented number of social, environmental and economic challenges that face our planet and although design can’t solve them all, it can certainly play a leading role in helping solve some of them.”

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Gien joined Standards Australia, which is something of a parent company to Good Design Australia, in 1996. Gien told Appliance Retailer magazine earlier this year that this was a dark period for design in Australia.

“The Design Awards were pretty much in a dark hole back in those days — I’m talking largely within the industrial design profession — they didn’t really see it as something that added value to their business,” he said. “It was a quick and easy way for manufacturers who perhaps didn’t have a quality product to get some form of endorsement. It [had] lost its way.”

Fifteen years later, on the eve of this year’s Awards, Gien had successfully restored the Design Awards and the broader community to a position of relevance. He said a Design Award was now a marketable way to differentiate one product from the crowd.

“I think it’s incredible value. This is a way of differentiating your product, of saying to a consumer, ‘Hey, this is a quality product: it’s been well designed, it’s made from the right material, there’s environmental considerations that have been taken into account, it’s safe and it’s received endorsements from experts’.”