Cosmic circularity in the world of briefing – Part 1

Just before joining our last Sounding Panel session on design for human experience, Anna Maskiell from Public Realm Lab took a moment to reflect on the past.

Information Technology department, Thycon Industries, Coburg (Wolfgang Sievers, 1984)

1983 was a pretty big year as far as I’m concerned. I was born (always useful!), Fraggle Rock debuted and the Thriller video was released (still influential in the schoolyard 9 or 10 years later). Wolfgang Sievers continued to document the landscape of work in Melbourne, but the heroic images of Australian manufacturing were starting to give way to images of knowledge workers, in their salmon cubicles under a relentless march of ceiling tiles.

On the other side of the planet, DEGW – established by a bunch of Architectural Association graduates, released their ORBIT (Office Research: Buildings and Information Technology) report, which changed the trajectory for office environments around the world.

Many many moons later, when I was immersed in designing an idea factory for one of the manufacturing greats that Sievers had captured in the 60’s and throwing myself into research about creativity, organisational culture, technology and workplace design, DEGW turned up everywhere I looked…it seemed all roads led back to them and ORBIT, which ‘repositioned the architect within the knowledge economy’. Within our practice the expression, ‘they’re ex-DEGW’ is pretty much shorthand for, ‘they’re a smart cookie’ and – just like discovering your favourite new band shortly after they’ve split up – Phil and I have often lamented that they were long gone before we could appreciate them.

And now – John Worthington, one of those plucky AA grads – at 83 years of age is working on the third edition of ‘Managing the Brief for Better Design’ and has decided with his co-authors to form a learning network that connects like-minded folk from around the world.

If you’ve stuck with me hopefully you’re starting to appreciate the cosmic circularity of all this, the auspicious numbers, the bluddy excitement at being invited to be part of this network, getting together tonight with the likes of local heroes Rory Hyde, Peter Raisbeck and Keiran Wong together with new friends from Stride Treglown and non-instagram types

Stay tuned!!


Anna Maskiell is an Architect and co-founder of Melbourne-based architectural consultancy Public Realm Lab. She is an advocate, researcher and adviser on the ways in which the built environment can foster inclusivity, creativity and sustainability by putting human experience at the centre of strategic and design thinking. 

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