Associate Professor Ross McLeod


Welcome to ne/x/t, the RMIT Master of Design Innovation and Technology (MDIT) online virtual exhibition. The MDIT program speculates on the future of design and seeks to develop design methodologies that integrate the needs of people with the potentials that lie within technological innovation. Through design studios, elective specialisations and major project works the students are challenged to not only develop beautiful objects and spaces, but more importantly to ‘redesign the way the world works.’ 

As we all know, 2020 has been a challenging year. MDIT students and staff have had to adapt quickly to the online delivery of the program. While online teaching has presented many challenges, it has not stopped the enthusiasm and creative drive from within MDIT and 2020 has seen us shine in both local and international design arenas. Below is a summary of some of the extraordinary achievements our staff and students have accomplished this semester, through the integration of design studio teaching and partnered research collaborations.

In June 2020, students presented design studio work at the Biodesign Challenge in New York and Industry Fellow Olivier Cotsaftis, won the award for Biodesign Challenge Outstanding Instructor. One of the projects undertaken for the studio, ‘T-Wine’ by Amanda Pacheco Bravo, Shimroth John Thomas and Joseph Oliver Yap has gone on to be a finalist in the City of Melbourne Open Innovation Competition. The student team are now about to engage in an RMIT Activator Launch Hub project to develop a business strategy to take the design toward realisation. 

In November 2020, the Safeness by Design Research Group led by Ian de Vere, Malte Wagenfeld and Ross McLeod presented work of MDIT students at the online Barcelona Design Week 2020. The exhibition ‘Safeness by Design: Urban Contexts’ presented design proposals that embrace holistic and multidisciplinary approaches to the issues of safety in the city on personal, social, spatial and technological levels. It featured design proposals resulting from three semesters of collaborative design studio research projects between MDIT and the planners and strategists from two international cities, Barcelona and Melbourne.

In December 2020, our other Industry Fellow Pirjo Haikola will exhibit the ‘Sea Urchin Challenge’, an installation including 3D-printed objects and underwater films as part of the NGV Triennial 2020. The funded research project looks at specific ecosystem imbalances and the ways in which design can contribute to raising awareness and improving conservation and sustainable practices. Pirjo has also led students in the ‘Splendid Seaweed’ studio this semester, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Tasmania and Deakin University and the first commercial scale seaweed farm project in Australia. 

In December 2020 and January 2021, MDIT students working in the ‘Sensing Nature’ studio with Jeff Hannam and Sophie Gleeson and with Ross McLeod in a digital fabrication summer elective will present work as part of the ‘Site and Sound: Contemporary Sonic Art’ exhibition. Curated and organised by Lawrence Harvey, the exhibition is to be staged at the McClelland Gallery until April 2021. The exhibition addresses the conceptual and material relationship between culture and nature, exploring sound as a spatial medium, both within and beyond the gallery. 

In March 2021, four MDIT student projects will be featured in the Melbourne Design Week. These include: 

  • ‘Jugaadogu’ by Gugliemo Bosco Bartilomo, Rita Leung, Esther Cheok and Aakash Verma developed in the ‘Mimosa Fever Dream’s studio run this semester by Chuan Khoo.
  • ‘Green Renaissance’ by Haonan Ma, Mengke Lian and Shanshan Wei from the ‘Speculative BioCities’ studio run by Olivier Cotsaftis.
  • ‘The Search for Harmony’ by Jorge Arreola Rosando and ‘RAW (Repurposed Animal Waste)’ by Tania Clara Wahono, which were both Major Project design research investigations.

This semester sees the completion of thirty-two major projects in MDIT. Co-ordinated by Michael Trudgeon, the final semester of the program challenges students to undertake a self-driven design research project. The outcomes of these major projects are wide reaching and reflect the individual interests and career trajectories of the students as well as the broad scope of design fields that the program explores. Each semester the major projects act as a barometer of what the students learnt during their time in the MDIT and the issues and concerns facing their generation. 

In 2020, the projects generated by MDIT students and staff have responded to the effects that the global pandemic has had on our day to day interactions and have addressed the looming sustainable challenges facing humanity. Through the experimental and innovative projects seen in this exhibition, MDIT continues to address how design, innovation and technology can positively facilitate our relationships with both each other and the natural world.

Associate Professor Ross McLeod

Program Manager
Master of Design Innovation and Technology
School of Design
RMIT University

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Hello, world. How are you?

Here’s our second edition of ne/x/t. We hope you enjoy this theme created specially for Semester 2, 2020: convergent rings and orbits of inter-connected disciplines, and all the people that make it happen – the MDIT community coming together to draw the academic year to a close.

Once again, this exhibition is made possible only through the collection of great work from students, supported and curated by their tutors amidst the busy virtual landscape of online learning. Kudos to everyone for the help contributed!

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

MDIT Student Team

Sushmita Deb
Suresh Saicharan Maniganahalli
Sowmiya Selvakumaraswamy

Concept, Design & Code

Chuan Khoo


Illiyanna Ibrahim

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No MDIT exhibition – digital or otherwise – happens without a collection of great work from students, supported and curated by their tutors. Thanks to EVERYONE for the help contributed!

A special mention goes to Illiyanna Ibrahim, our information wrangler, content uploader and design front-liner, for your hard work fine-tuning and assembling the nearly 500 articles of media, text and supporting content.

Thanks Hartwig Bentele & Kunstmatrix for your technical support.

We’d also like to extend our gratitude to the following students who volunteered (despite their busy coursework) what precious time they had to help sort out the finer details of digital media work:

Video chat

Guglielmo ‘Bosco-sorry-my-laptop-died’ Bartilomo

3D lightbake tester

Sowmiya ‘yes-Chuan-click-UV-unwrap’ Selvakumaraswamy

Media queries

Suresh ‘should-we-unit-test?’ Saicharan Maniganahalli

Web tester

Diego ‘nicest tester alive award’ Garetto Morande

Thanks for visiting and fare thee well – across the digital ether. Be well; be kind.

– Chuan Khoo
MDIT Associate Lecturer
Interaction Design & Technologies

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