Mark O'Dwyer and Lissa Barnum

End of the Beginning: Complimentary educational perspectives in the collaborative design environment


The notion that designers only use systematic approaches to solve problems devoid of mystery or ‘felt’ processes, is outmoded by what contemporary theory now recognises as the application of ‘tacit’ knowledge – information not regularly stated, but gained in the practical field.

This paper combines the experience of two design practitioners working at opposite ends of the spectrum. Seemingly disparate, both share a common goal to build a collaborative educational framework for the applied design space.

One designer employs explicit, systematic business models to look at design problems, while the other, intrinsic and experiential modes, challenging prescriptive systems. Both ask questions of the design process, colliding and intersecting, but what is of interest, are the combinations and perspectives each uses to formulate a pedagogic paradigm.

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Mark O'Dwyer and Lissa Barnum:

*Lissa Barnum**: born, raised, Mexico City. Specialising in Finance and the Arts, Lissa has run an independent communication design practice for twenty years with partner Andrew Barnum, Head of School at Billy Blue College of Design. For eleven years she has been an active member of academic staff at the University of Technology, Sydney, running a studio and training Visual Communication undergraduates in professional practice. She spearheads under-graduate and post-graduate multi disciplinary design teams working on sustainable and community based projects.

Lissa also teaches at Billy Blue College of Design concentrating on research, management and community based subjects. Her post-graduate study looked at the visualisation of design processes (in practical situations) with a view to exposing gaps in theory.
UCLA, (University of California, Los Angeles) BA Humanities. UTS, (University of Technology, Sydney), MA (Research) Design.


Mark O’Dwyer: born, raised, Ireland. For twenty years, Mark has successfully led clients, large and small to their business objectives. He has investigated the challenges and processes of design driven innovation, led teams in the creation of strategic design programs, and brand communication solutions for a diverse roster of clients. These include: Qantas, Brambles, Downer Group, IAG Insurance, BHP Billiton, Macquarie Bank, Fairfax, QBE Insurance, Westfield, Woolworths, Oil Search, Freedom Group, GPT, Rio Tinto, TRILITY Group, Commonwealth Bank, Coca-Cola Amatil and Mitsubishi Corporation. He has worked in both Dublin and London before moving to Sydney in 1999 where he joined Billy Blue College of Design in 2007. His studies, lie at the intersection of strategy, design, and business and shed new light on how students can, envision breakthrough design strategies, collaborate, deploy flexible development processes, and foster creativity and learning in their outcomes. Mark has embedded this work into his subject delivery. LSAD (Limerick School of Art & Design, Ireland) BA Visual Communications.