The winners of the 2019 Victorian Design Challenge have today been announced by the National Gallery of Victoria. An annual competition that sees artists form multidisciplinary teams to apply design to target real-world problems, this year’s theme was the reduction, recovery and elimination of waste. This is the first year that categories for Tertiary and Secondary/Primary School students have been introduced.

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The winning team in the Professional category was Studio Periscope, made up of Lisa Oaten, Robert Sim and George Berry. Winning $15,000 and assorted NGV Prize Packs, they produced a piece of playground equipment called Rollie, which allows students to aerate compost while it is used. Resembling a giant hamster wheel, Rollie aims to address the issue of food waste by educating future generations about the value of food through aerobic ‘hot’ composting.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology student Maddison Ryder was named the winner in the Tertiary category for her single-use plates, receiving $5,000 and workshop and mentoring opportunities. Called ‘Lettuce Eat’, the plates are created from waste iceberg lettuce and are instantly biodegradable, commenting on behaviours of conspicuous consumption and food waste.

Twelve students from the Mill Park Library Makers Club took out the top prize in the Secondary and Primary School category for the creation of a robot that not only picks up and takes students to school, but carries any organic waste from homes. The project was inspired by China’s line-following battery powered train, and aims to assist waste management in schools, homes and local communities by encouraging students to walk to school and pick up rubbish on the way. The students receive a one-day tailored learning package at the NGV for up to 50 students, which includes learning resources, a curatorial talk, an exhibition tour, lunch, transport and teacher expenses plus NGV Prize Packs for team members and their supervisor.

The 2019 Jury was chaired by Craig Reucassel from ABC’s War on Waste and included Abigail Forsyth, Managing Director and Co-founder, KeepCup; Shannon Bourke, Environmental and Social Initiatives Manager (Australia/New Zealand), Patagonia; John Gertsakis, Director and Co-founder, E-waste Watch Institute, Adjunct Professor, Institute for Sustainable Futures UTS; Tamsin O’Neill, Editor and Director, Green Magazine and Rebecca Gilling, Deputy CEO, Planet Ark.

“The diversity of themes and concerns evident in the submissions make it clear that the aligned concerns of waste, pollution and resource management touches every aspect of our lives,” the jury said. “From food and clothing, to travel and technology, there is no area of contemporary life that could not benefit from design-led disruption through an interrogation of waste, and its impacts.”

“Managing waste is a complex problem that will take the best design thinking from across Victoria and the world to address,” said Martin Foley, Minister for Creative Industries. “I congratulate the winners, and the Design Challenge for their focus on this critical problem.”

“It’s great to see local designers put their considerable talent towards tackling waste – undoubtedly one of the defining challenges of our future,” added Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio.