Winning a prestigious award before her graduation with a Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours) reassures Renee Aquilina that her hard work was worth it.

Renee Aquilina set herself a challenging task for her major project ‘Ori’, which she used as the basis for her winning entry in the Next Gen category of the Good Design Awards.

Deciduous trees were top among her many inspirations for ‘Ori’, which is an interactive shade canopy.

“I was interested in how they lose their leaves throughout the colder months, allowing sunlight to pass through, providing warmth, and in the warmer months they gain leaves and provide shade to help cool the area,” says Renee.

“The folding shade sail was inspired by kirigami – like origami but including cuts as well as folds – which I learnt in the BEIL Graphic Design elective. The cuts and folds create a dappled shade much like a tree and contribute to the atmosphere of the environment.”

Working on a large-scale project, Renee had to incorporate many layers of interdisciplinary thinking.

“I gave myself the challenge of trying to make a structure that also moves, which meant working out how to create movement to allow the shade to expand and contract. In my initial researching phase, I also looked at kinetic architecture and articulating structures for inspiration.” 

‘Ori’ is an interactive shade canopy. Image Source: Supplied 

Renee found the encouragement and support of the Industrial Design staff were invaluable, from her initial concepts to the technical aspects of the final design.

“They were always available to us when we needed them. They cover a wide range of industrial design fields and each has their own area of expertise, which means that there was always someone who could help.”

She also stresses the benefits of learning the fundamentals of design at the start of the Industrial Design program, and how that shapes the way students view the world and think critically about design.

“We also visited industrial design consultancies and factories to learn how things are manufactured, and we entered competitions where we were encouraged to design for the real world.”

Stephen Ward, Director of Industrial Design in the Faculty of Built Environment, says it is a great achievement for Renee to be one of only three Gold winners in the 2018 Next Gen (formerly Young Australian Designer) category, competing with other design graduates nationally.

“We are thrilled that Renee has developed her UNSW Honours year Industrial Design project and claimed a place.

“Design awards for students and graduates of university programs like the BID(Hons) at UNSW play a vital role in giving wider exposure to innovative projects at universities and ensuring industry recognition of graduates.”

“I feel that the hard work has finally paid off,” says Renee, who graduates this month. “I feel extremely honoured and grateful to have won the award.”

After the 60th Anniversary Good Design Awards Ceremony at the Sydney Opera House in May, Ori was included in the Good Design Showcase Exhibition as part of Sydney Vivid.

The Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours) at UNSW Built Environment will shape the way we live through the design of things we use every day. Designers consider the technical aspects of design together with how things are used and experienced by people in diverse settings. Find out more about the course here.