Why Geelong

The acceptance of our membership into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is in recognition of our history of design. Geelong understands the value of design in what we do. This is evident in our past and it is evident in our present.

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 all kinds (deceased humans, food, and drink; particularly 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 his district in late 1877. He later transmitted over a longer distance, between Geelong and Ballarat on the evening of January 9th 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. The mill was the final component of a system of factories planned in 1910 by the newly formed Commonwealth government and designed to 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. Transforming the industrial fabric of the city, Ford began by producing the Model T vehicle in the CBD, opening the North Geelong factory line in 1926. Major expansion took place during the 1960’s to make way for the Falcon range of vehicles seeing stamping, engine plants components and product engineering operations expand. The 60s also saw Ford opening a proving ground near the You Yangs to the north. The proving is still in use, enabling current Ford designers and engineers to test contemporary capabilities.

The rotary clothesline designed by 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. Commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong the bollards are made from old timber piles from the City’s pier. Now an iconic feature of Geelong’s waterfront, Geelong and its bollards are a synonymous brand for the City.

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.

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