Innovators – Australian Design and Innovation


  • Monash Art Design and Architecture
  • Australian Embassy Beijing
  • Monash University
  • Design Institute of Australia


Innovators is an exhibition commissioned by the Australian Embassy in Beijing to celebrate Australian design and innovation at Beijing Design Week 2016. The exhibition consists of sixteen digital archives celebrating iconic Australian innovations and designs.

Curator Ian Wong collaborated with Dr Indae Hwang and traditional Chinese artist Minghua Zhang. Together they merged ancient Chinese craft with the latest augmented reality technology.

The digital archive for each project is activated automatically as visitors approach the individually crafted seal resting on a cylindrical podium.

3D printed titanium Chinese seals (yang) that relate to the topic, act as the “trigger” for the technology.

Key Features


In an exhibition about Australian innovation it was appropriate that Wifi, which was invented by Australians, be the vehicle to deliver the content.

Modern China has fully embraced digital devices and social media so visitors were primed for a fully digital user experience.

The designers provided both IOS and Android delivery platforms with seamless technological deployment enhanced by rich cultural connection.


The minimalist exhibition design featuring an arrangement of white geometric columns, provides a stark contrast to the famous and imposing 751 gallery space in post industrial Beijing.

Ancient Chinese history and the latest 3D printing and augmented reality technology were strategically fused together by the designers to create an intriguing and engaging exhibition.

Minghua Zhang, based in Nanjing, was commissioned to hand paint symbols in ancient Chinese for each of the sixteen categories of the Australian innovations.

These ritualistic symbols were used as the digital marker for the augmented reality technology. So the script for \’furniture\’, for example, triggered a story about Marc Newson,\’s Lockheed Lounge.


Visitor feedback praised the innovative approach to the exhibition design and expressed surprise at the global influence of Australian design.

The use of powerful Chinese motifs such as the red ink stamps of the ‘yang’ and the stone chops reimagined in 3D printed metal, drew many positive comments from \’Beijingers\’.


Typical \’object on podium\’ exhibitions traditionally require shipping, insurance and complicated logistics. They are not sustainable.

Innovators utilised augmented reality and low energy bluetooth technology delivered on smart phones.

This sustainable curatorial practice delivered a crowd pleasing user experience and stated boldly that Australia is a leading innovation and design nation.

Innovators was awarded the ‘Most Innovative Design Award’ by judges at Beijing Design Week.

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