14-26 October 1996
Forty-one delegates from sixteen different countries joined with Australians and Tasmanians alike to deliberate the meaning of the word “sustainable” and then to develop strategies for sustainable practice in the sectors of food, forestry, tourism, hydro-electricity, small business and community governance. The Interdesign’s major sponsors included the Hydro-Electric Commission, the University of Tasmania and the Association for the Development of Design in Tasmania.
The Food Industry
Tasmania’s State soils and seawaters were being taken advantage of in attempt to develop a new and wide array of special products for markets in the northern hemisphere. The aim was to develop a design approach for the Tasmanian food industry, presentation of opportunities for new markets and value adding, and to exceed the marketing objectives within an environmental and social framework. The designers proposed methods of maintaining farm hygiene, onion processing, reusable packaging, a modular food and beverage display system, and a salmon gift pack.
As a vital element of the State’s economy for its paper production, and export of woodchips, forestry of old growth native forests had been the focus of bitter community debate to the nature of its sustainable future. Designers proposed green labelling, identification of special timbers, and “Project Forest 2000”.
Due to the island’s unique natural environment and heritage of early buildings and towns, tourism was increasingly regarded as a major basis for youth employment opportunities. The issue of concern was augmenting the level of tourism without affecting the sustainability of the very qualities that visitors seek to experience. Some proposals included increasing and diversifying access to the natural landscape, providing a variety of products matched to target markets, and focusing on industry, crafts, food, and locally distinct services to name a few.
Given that hydroelectric industrialism was the major economic strategy of Tasmania dating from the period of the Great Depression to recent times, modern technology and the conservatism movement had lead to the relative decline of employment in this industry. Some of the recommendations were made in relation to in domains such as recreation and health, technology, and tourism, among others.
Innovative Small Businesses
The group presented a case study on Padget Industries where it was said that their technology should translate into products that are designed for identified markets, manufactured in appropriate materials and processes, have a strong brand and product identity, incorporate ergonomic considerations, consider maintenance/repair, and adopt lifecycle designs.
It was said that community decision-making involving businesses and citizen groups must be carried out in an integrated manner that recognises the basic issues underlying the concept of sustainability. It was recommended that strong and easily marketable identity for Tasmania be established, visual information on government departments’ areas of responsibility to assist in comprehension of services be provided, and benchmarks for sustainable development be established. The recommendations continued to address specific domains such as Government Effectiveness, Community Participation, and Economic Growth.
Design education must enforce sustainability. Three models were proposed: an interface model of designing process, a connecting model, and an indicative model for enabling sustainable design education. Within the Department of Engineering at the Launceston Campus of the University of Tasmania, a new bachelor course of environmental technology was started in 1995.