Swinburne Design News

Design Factory Melbourne Moves to Renovated Fire Station


Belinda Stening Contributing Editor


24 May 2018

This article was originally published in Swinburne University of Technology’s Design News – a platform celebrating design and innovation across Swinburne’s School of Design. Discover the latest design news about Swinburne’s research, teaching and student success stories.

Design Factory Melbourne has moved to a new location in Swinburne’s Innovation Hub on the Hawthorn campus. A historic Fire Station building has been purposefully designed to facilitate DFM activities. It supports design-led innovation as a pillar in Swinburne’s newly launched Innovation Precinct.

“The move to the Fire Station gives the Design Factory more access to the wider university community and industry. It brings incredible value to our co-creation, interdisciplinary problem-solving approach,” says Professor Anita Kocsis, Director of Design Factory Melbourne.

The renovated Fire Station building at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus

Photo: Paolo Capelli Photography

The four-storey repurposed Fire Station, designed by Melbourne based architects H20 and constructed by Bldg.Eng, houses DFM and Innovation Precinct staff offices. The Innovation Precinct’s business incubator program, an event space, and flexible break out areas are designed for team collaboration.

Design Factory students working in the Fire Station

Photo: Nick Dempsey

“Design Factory has always been a link for industry to access university knowledge and expertise and gives our university community access to industry knowledge. The move to the Fire Station allows Design Factory processes and capability to be accessible across the university in new and exciting ways,” Professor Kocsis says.

DFM provides an interdisciplinary platform for industry-engaged research. It brings end-users, students and researchers together in early stage product and service development, to experiment with concepts and their potential value. 

The Fire Station kitchen is the social heart of the building. It’s an inviting multipurpose space acting as kitchen, café, workspace and event space.

Professor Anita Kocsis and Design Factory Melbourne students in the new Fire Station

Photo: Nick Dempsey

Fire Station kitchen hosts an evening showcase event

Photo: Colin Giang

“It’s in the kitchen where ideas are hatched, partnerships are formed, strangers become new acquaintances and spontaneous meetings occur. It’s the engine for sparking serendipitous encounters and bringing the wider Fire Station community together,” says Professor Kocsis.

The design of the new activity-based studio is flexible, to encourage collaboration.

“This is where we unpack, brainstorm, ideate, prototype and solve wicked design problems,” explains Professor Kocsis.

Design Factory students in the soft-prototyping space

“At Design Factory Melbourne, our interdisciplinary methods and mindset facilitate an innovation culture. It supports vital skills required to challenge the difficult, complex and unknown dynamics for success. This culture inspires industry to consider new models of working with students and researchers in order to create impactful solutions,” says Professor Kocsis.

Researchers are given the freedom and resources to create genuine solutions. Students gain new learning experiences through interdisciplinary and international activities. Project sponsors get access to teams of top-level students and leading scholars.

DFM was the first Design Factory in the Southern Hemisphere to formally become part of the Design Factory Global Network or DFGN in 2011. The DFGN is expanding its global outlook with a network of 24 Design Factories, including Melbourne.

More Design News

SEEK and Design Factory Melbourne Partner in Innovation Challenge

SEEK is partnering with Design Factory Melbourne in an Innovation Challenge Project. As a leading online job classifieds platform, SEEK is looking to expand from being a place where people look for a job, to being a provider of support for people over the course of their career journey.

Swinburne and Aalto University Joint PhD

Established by Design Factory Melbourne (DFM) Director Prof Anita Kocsis at Swinburne, with Prof Tua Björklund from Aalto University, the Design Factory joint PhD program started last year.

Prototyping from home: Design Factory Melbourne supports students to create remotely

DFM has created ‘ProtoKIT’ to help students build and make prototypes while they study remotely.

Design Factory Melbourne Aligns Design, Science and Tech in Philadelphia

Design Factory Melbourne joined Design Factories in the Global Network in November for the annual International Design Factory Week (IDFW) to share best practice and plan future international design collaborations.