Design and Technology MDP – 2014

The completion of this years HSC major works were as rewarding for me as ever, the students worked in a variety of design areas – this was challenging from an organisational perspective but allowed students to demonstrate skills that related to their passions, interests and skills.

They had strong design concepts that allowed them to research and develop unique design ideas, this aspect I believe is most important – a pre-formed concept at the start of the project that is shallow in research and innovation/creativity does not allow a student to fulfil the MDP requirements in both the creation of a thorough folio and practical solution.

They did NOT have folio template, we developed a checklist based on marking criteria, changing the order and headings to suit each of the design areas they worked in. This shows evidence of creativity and also application of the design process – NOT heavy instruction, coaching or guidance from a teacher.


The projects were:

– Silver and resin jewellery

– Graphics promotional package for Gilroy recycling program

– Bed and storage made from reclaimed timbers

– Guitar

– Sustainably designed family home – model and full plans

– Outdoor daybed with cushions

– Laser cut lace dress with LED lights

– Infographic posters for design students

– Bedroom storage made from pallets

– Grandfather clock made from acrylic

– Parquetry table made from reclaimed building materials


Here is a selection of photos from the construction and final stages of the 2014 MDP’s . . . . these photos are not indicative of the ALL the hard work and additional hours these students put it, they were dedicated and perfecting. I hope the amount of experiments they produced is clear – the final products were superb because production processes and ideas were trialled. These projects used resources from other schools, other staff in other faculties, community support, recycled and reclaimed materials, numerous trips to Officeworks for printing and parent help. 

I am so proud of their work, if this is the quality of their work as HSC level students – imagine where they will be in a few years to come. . . . 






Confessions of a fashion addict and Buy Nothing New Month.


I have been following the Adbusters anti-consumption activist journey since my early uni-days. Their campaigns and culture jams are witty, productive, creative and informed. I participate in their “Buy Nothing Day” each year – not to have a tokenistic approach to consumption, but to use their campaign and information as a way to read, be an informed consumer and better understand the lifecycle and impact my purchase decisions have on our environment.  I frequently use the Adbusters resources in my Design and Technology classroom, I believe that better consumer choices will be enabled by clever and thoughtful design.

You can read more about Adbusters here:


Two years ago I blogged and participated in the Buy Nothing New month which I am doing again this year. It is an Australian campaign that runs for the month of October:


I am a SELF CONFESSED FASHION ADDICT, I LOVE buying quirky, strange, on-trend clothes. Buy Nothing New month isn’t so much of a challenge as a lot of what I purchase is second hand and re-purposed. My SELF challenge from now on is to not only not buy anything new for October, but look at WHERE my clothes and fashion purchases COME FROM. How they are made? How are they manufactured, processed, dyed? What packaging does it come in? Is it necessary that I purchase it- WHO will its purchase support?


. . . a month of reflection that will start a longer journey! YOU can sign up to pledge to BUY NOTHING NEW for a month here:

I want to make this syllabus content REAL!?

I always talk about how learning should be relevant, contextual and applicable to students lives. I always demonstrate how syllabus outcomes/content should link to real world stuff- so when students say “WHY are we learning this” there is a legitimate answer, OR, even better, the question isn’t asked- the link is THAT evident.

Tell my then, WHY do I have an assessment task scheduled for Preliminary Design and Technology that looks at design practice, designers and comparisons between their work in industry and what we do in school? WHY does the task ask for a written report that compares and contrasts designing and making when students DON’T get to have that experience? . . . oh jeez, I really can’t hand that task out?? . . . . REALLY?? :-/

Enter the NEW task!!

designers and their work

designers and their work2

So, what’s the difference? THIS task will allow students to DESIGN, MAKE, MAYBE FAIL? MAYBE SUCCEED? They will get to HAVE A GO AT BEING A DESIGNER- designing, making- selling. The premise being that they will NOW have some practice to compare their designer to! 

The hard parts in writing this task:

  • when we design and make we usually create a design folio- there is NO TIME for this process, an assumption has been made that the design process is ESSENTIAL and will be followed- therefore an evaluation could be conducted based on success and failures within each stage of the design process. SO this is how P2.1 will be assessed.
  • we DON’T have a laser cutter on site, I have liaised with another school (bribing teachers with coffees and goodwill) to allow me to produce students designs- this could ONLY be done during weeks 3/4 of term.
  • Students SHOULD be able to determine presentation methods determined by their audience. This is an important skill as designers. Yes report writing skills are important too, but that got scrapped so that students could choose presentation method, SO this is how P5.2 will be assessed.
  • They should be able to compare and evaluate the success of their designs to those of a real designers, BUT, WHAT IF THEIR DESIGNS DON’T SELL on market day?? . . . I have created a BUDGET SALES PROFIT table– so that as long as they set out to achieve a profit, they will still succeed. (NOTE: yes 20 marks is a lot for this section, marking criteria includes use of computer graphics and laser cutting technologies)
  • MATERIALS!!??? . . . I purchased all the findings in bulk from ETSY, and acrylic “scraps” from Australian Plastic Fabricators this kept costs down AND we have a variety of colours in the acrylic. All profits will go to support our World Youth Day travellers from Gilroy.
  • NO TIME FOR RESEARCH??!!! . . . I started a PINTREST board for students with bookmarks and links of relevant designers, illustrator tutorials, laser cutter videos/info. This should get them started! (and limit the time spent on this section so they can get to the good stuff quicker)
  • The need to UNDERSTAND design is important. There is still a section that analyses and evaluates a designers work, hopefully this wont be presented in a report format (as it doesn’t need to be) AND hopefully the experiences they gain in the practical side of the project enable this section to be much more rewarding than just reading a bio on the internet.

This task has taken HOURS of planning, research and co-ordination, but, HOW could I say I was making learning contextual and relevant from WITHIN a classroom? By handing out a research report???

Assessment tasks can be evil. This task, to me NOW seems real, with learning and skill development in mind. I hope this task allows students to PLAY the part of a designer, so they can better understand their role, what they do and the technologies and processes they use. This class is such a CREATIVE group, I couldn’t have possibly imagined stifling them with a “report”. I can’t wait to see what they come up with, what they will make and sell, and HOW this will inspire them to form a career pathway in design.

Bulk purchased findings

Showing off my students’ Design & Technology Major Design Projects !!

In the HSC course of Design & Technology students embark on a 9 month journey that starts with them sourcing a DESIGN NEED, and is completed with them creating their OWN DESIGNED SOLUTION. This Major Design Project (MDP) is weighted as 60% of their HSC assessment marks (exclusive of their school assessment marks).

The MDP challenges their creativity, applied subject knowledge and also their time management skills. This year, with a small class of 11 students, it was NOT any easier to facilitate this process. The biggest challenge FOR ME was being the CONSTANT source of motivation and direction for these students. However, I loved EVERY minute of it, the BEST moment was celebrating the completion of the MDP and their personal success with some cake 🙂

Students in my year 12 D&T class worked to create:

  • A RC (remote controlled) scaled fighter plane
  • A WIND turbine for residential use
  • Bed linen set that incorporated custom printed fabric from the students OWN sketches
  • Electronic music production tutorial website
  • A moving wall system for small apartment living
  • Graphics for a wake-skate board
  • Storage system that hangs from the ceiling
  • Silver jewellery – rings and bracelet
  • Baseball field incorporating green energy and universal design principles
  • Kitchen “step aid” built within a kickboard
  • Velcro bootie and stomp pad for surfers to enable aerial manoeuvres

3 students from this year’s cohort have been entered into the University of Wollongong Design and Technology Competition, but all of these projects are personal successes in their own right, which is why they deserve this blog post to CELEBRATE ALL THEIR HARD WORK!!


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Can YOU buy nothing new??

For everyone that knows me you know that I have this internal dilemma as a designer/artist. . . .

How can we as consumers/designers sustain this cycle of consumption when SO much of what we consume is useless/pointless ?? Yes, we all guilty of over consumption.

The real turning point in my thinking was while I was at Uni studying design, I was 2nd year (which was 2003) and I had this “Hippie” lecturer that WALKED everywhere, she refused to go anywhere that you couldn’t get to using public transport or to even sit in a car!! lol. She traced back the origin of all the products she bought to make sure they were sustainable- this dedication was exhausting!  Since that time I have followed the writing of Clive Hamilton. Especially his books Growth Fetish and Affluenza, they both really struck a chord with me not only as a designer, but as a consumer. It made me reflect on our society, and my personal consumption patterns and even where I worked (My Name is Monique Dalli, and I regrettably used to work for NIKE).

Culture jamming has been a response that I have participated in for a few years- Adbusters are a global culture jamming movement that encourage individuals to participate buy doing simple things: Digital detox  and Buy Nothing Day are ways EVERYONE can break patterns of consumption and reflect on WHAT you buy, and WHERE it comes from, especially poignant around the silly season of Christmas, I especially like this Adbuster image:

So. . . .  I got pretty excited when I saw this- AN AUSSIE JAM!!

Do YOU think you could BUY NOTHING NEW for a whole month? I pledged, but before it begun really needed to double confirm the parameters of the pledge lol

During the first 3 days of October I went on mini-holiday to Hobart, NO ONE got a souvenir or gift upon my return. Sorry to all my family and friends that would normally get a pressie, but this cause is greater than magnets and trinkets that are really just “made in china”. While exploring in Hobart I found some really cool stuff amongst the usual tourist crap at the Salamanca Markets, a lot of the stalls were handmade food and body products, but what really let the markets down was sadly the cliche Australia boomerangs and crappy unauthentic Aboriginal Art that is mass-produced. No, I didn’t buy anything.

This guy was making new little “Robots” from unwanted toys and junk, each Robot had a name and a card- which told you a little about its persona, and were its body parts came from, so very cool and creative! His slogan on the table was “Be creative, re-use, up-cycle”.

What really got me thinking after seeing his creations was- Where do all the unwanted toys usually go??!!?

Do you have children?? Where do all their unwanted toys go??

The rest of the 3 day holiday in Hobart I spent my $$ on experiences, walking round and visiting small galleries and MONA !!! I cant believe I walked through the souvenir shop and BOUGHT NOTHING, not even  KEY RING OR POST CARD!!! Seriously, that is my proudest achievement of the month so far!!

So, thats my first blog update for my month of BUYING NOTHING NEW, not to late to sign up!! can YOU do it??

Peats Ridge Sustainable Arts Fesival

Last year I had the WICKED opportunity to create props that were used as part of the Peats Ridge Sustainable arts and music festival, that is held at Glenworth Valley over New Years Eve.

All the props were made from upcycled fabric, and under the creative direction of Camilla Lawson- I was given a 2 bags of fabric- one was to turn old banners into 36 sails, and the other was to create a cover for the MASSIVE CHAIR !!!

The sails were constructed in stages (cutting/sewing), I averaged 6 a day for 2 weeks:

  The finished product was installed by other volunteers- the effect was UNREAL, and a lovely shady place to chill out 🙂


Well, what an EPIC but satisfying journey that was!! hahaha. Truth be told, I had never created anything so BIGGGG!!! Camilla gave me fabric that happened to have really large people printed over it. I had this amazing idea to cut the fabric and re-sew as a patchwork style cover- so that random abstract body parts appeared in odd places over the chair cover. Feet, faces, hands were cut and sewn into a geometric triangular patchwork pattern- what a work out for my applied mathematics!!! All sections were topstitched for strength.

The effect was better than expected! The chair was situated under a tree at the main stage, what a rewarding feeling having kids and people sit on it over the 3 days! Actually, it wasn’t until early on day 3 that I actually got a chance to sit on it!!