BlackBOX – Design and Innovation, Melbourne Australia


  • Monash Art Design & Architecture
  • City of Melbourne
  • Monash University


BlackBOX – Design and Innovation was a feature event of Knowledge Week 2016 and was commissioned by the City of Melbourne.

Inspired by the black box flight recorder invented in Victoria in 1957, the exhibition gave voice to an untold story of local design history. The exhibition featured a striking geometric grid of floating boxes set within a dramatically lit space.

As visitors approached each box they unlocked the box’s digital archive through use of a handheld device. BlackBOX embodies a philosophy integrating innovation, technology and design research into an interactive visually stimulating design archive.

Key Features


The themes that drove the design concepts for BlackBOX were all derived from Melbourne. The world’s most liveable city is also Australia’s design capital and BlackBOX strategically set out to be striking visually and conceptually engaging. A simple floating field of pure geometric cubes was the primary design statement. Design elements included the Hoddle Grid (8×8) array, the black box flight recorder, and the 3D metal printed coins paid tribute to Stuart Devlin’s enduring Australian decimal coins. The blacked out space with custom designed lighting enhanced the user experience as the content was presented on demand to the user.


Visitors to the exhibition were greatly engaged in the content and expressed surprise about the global impact of design and innovation from Victoria. The technical solution, exhibition design and user experience combined synergistically to successfully deliver the message of Victoria as an innovative design State. Conceptually the use of cloud based content delivery and the latest 3D printing technology represents Victoria as a state at the cutting edge of innovation worldwide.


The concept for BlackBOX challenged the traditional ‘object on podium’ approach to exhibition design. It rejected augmented reality and opted for what is a new curatorial practice approach – a responsive user-centred experience. The overall concept of BlackBOX as a cloud-based digital archive requires no shipping, insurance, carnet or customs. BlackBOX is a highly flexible exhibition platform and was also used as a ’pop up’ in Melbourne’s famous lanes during Knowledge Week.


The concept for the user experience of BlackBOX demanded a technical platform that was robust, responsive and intuitive and most importantly delivered cloud based content without lag. The sense of discovery at each BlackBOX demanded a user experience that was elegant and reliable. The technology was developed with Art Processors in Collingwood and used ibeacons located in each 3D printed box. This solution was responsive, engaging and totally unique, and is a new approach for the industry.


BlackBOX used sustainable design principles for production with PLA plastic for 3D printing, recyclable raw aluminium, uncoated flat steel plates and LED lighting. All system components are modular and disassemble for minimum shipping and transportation. The 3D printed components and cloud based content platform enables the entire exhibition experience to be presented anywhere in the world.

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