How do you create a lust-worthy product and then market it to global acclaim?

Take a leaf out of Celina Clarke’s playbook.

She has, after all, already been there and done that.

Celina ClarkeCelina Clarke - Jury Chair 2021

With fellow RMIT industrial design alumni Simon Christopher, in 1990 Celina established ISM Objects in Mentone, focusing on ‘made in Melbourne’ lighting and homewares.

Two years on, they commercialised a flat-packed table lamp stocked everywhere from Country Road to the gift store at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Talk about a lightbulb moment.

Their business has been on a winning streak ever since, scooping multiple awards and collaborating with architects, lighting engineers and interior designers.

Clients include Bendigo TAFE, Melton Library, Westpac, Melbourne Quaker Centre and gastro pubs such as the Prince of Wales Hotel and O’Connell Centenary Hotel.

“The designs have endeared and endured,” Celina says. “We’ve been in business for over 30 years and have developed objects of affection that enhance people’s environments. The products address materiality, manufacturing advancements and market acceptance. We’re using design and engineering, technical testing laboratories and prototyping to create competitive advantage.”

Nevertheless, no amazing product is created in a vacuum.

It helps that our state has a robust design ecosystem, shaping everything from architecture to fashion, to digital and physical products.

“Victoria is known for design,” Celina says. “Support by Creative Victoria, the NGV, Melbourne Design Week and other design industry festivals has created a strong culture of design here.”

That’s mirrored in the “depth of projects entered into the VPDA that demonstrate design excellence through process, transformation, and impact.”

Established by the Victorian Government in 1996, the annual Victorian Premier’s Design Awards (VPDA) show how Victorians are improving lives through game-changing products, services and systems.

“The awards champion the importance of good design in sustaining our communities,” notes Celina. “They’re unique as they distinguish themselves as a benchmark for design excellence in Victoria and communicate the benefits of investing in professional design. Being recognised with a VPDA is a high accolade demonstrating the project has met or exceeded all rigorous criteria.”

While she adores design in all its many weird and wonderful – and useful – guises, contemporary lighting will always hold a special place in Celina’s heart as she regards it as the perfect blend of creativity, innovation and technology.

“Advanced manufacturing in Australia is building momentum this year. Technology in lighting is travelling at a rapid pace and driving product development. It’s exciting. The future is bright.”

Calling all Victorian designers

Could your work win a VPDA award? Check the criteria.