Geelong’s exclusive membership into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is in recognition of our history of design and our demonstration of design led innovations to creative a strong and sustainable economy.
One of the earliest examples of design in the region is Wurdi Youang – a human-designed rock formation, revealed to be the oldest astronomical observatory in the world, pre-dating Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids. Scientists believe the site may be over 11,000 years old.
James Harrison pioneered the mechanical ice maker in the mid-1800s – which had a significant impact on storage of deceased humans, food and drink, in particular for local breweries.
The first telephone experiments in Australia were set up by W.J. Thomas, a customs inspector from Geelong. Thomas used a homemade instrument and linked two houses in late 1877. He later transmitted over a longer distance, between Geelong and Ballarat on the evening of 9 January 1878, and then between Geelong and Queenscliff.
The Federal Woollen Mills were completed in 1915 so the Commonwealth Department of Defence could produce army uniforms from raw wool and make Australia self-sufficient in essential military equipment.
The iconic R160 Contour Chair by Geelong designer Grant Featherston is a symbol of modernist furniture design. The Contour series originated in the early 1950s when Featherston dreamed of making a chair that would be a ‘negative’ of the human body to create the concept of ‘contour comfort.’
Ford was announced the first Australian headquarters with the Model-T to first off the production line in 1925. Major expansion took place during the 1960’s to make way for the Falcon range of vehicles seeing stamping, engine components and product engineering operations expand in Geelong. In the 1960’s, Ford established a testing and proving ground near the You Yangs. Today, the proving ground is still in use, enabling current Ford designers and engineers to test vehicle capabilities.
The rotary clothesline designed by Geelong’s Gilbert Toyne in 1911, was the fore runner for the current day Hills Hoist.
Rip Curl, Quiksilver and Billabong, all launched in the late 1960s has made our region an iconic world leader in surf design.
Jan Mitchell’s Baywalk Bollard series is a colourful tourism drawcard for Geelong. The bollards are made from old timber piles from Geelong’s original pier. Now an iconic feature of Geelong’s waterfront, the bollards are a synonymous brand for the City.
Geelong educated Stuart Devlin designed the first decimal coins for our Australian currency more than 50 years ago. A specialist craftsman, jeweller and silversmithing, Devlin trained in Geelong before moving to London to study at the Royal College of Art.
“(Devlin) introduced techniques which were entirely new. He mixed gold and silver, introduced filigree, tactile surfaces instead of just plain silver. He cut the chains of tradition. He was really very radical.”
There are plenty of examples where design is etched into the fabric of our region from our past and in years to come.