NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Avant Garden PILOT – Speculative Design

by Tonya Meyrick

‘The Avant Garden is a multi-platform, roaming structure that will house, in various locations throughout Geelong and then across regional Victoria, cutting edge creative programming and exchange in a festival atmosphere’

Exhibition design, digital animations, website, logo, typography, virtual structures, and production designs of the Avant Garden + augmented reality (AR),



The Avant Garden (PILOT) exhibition, at the National Wool Museum is the public introduction to a research project that asks: How can Geelong rethink the notion and delivery of public art? How, through creative practices, can we establish a contemporary meeting place for the exchange of critical and creative ideas? We imagine – together, a space that is more dynamic than the Serpentine Pavilion [UK+CHINA], that services a broader range of interests than a Temporary Kunsthalle [BERLIN] and that is as recognisable and as exciting as a Spiegeltent or the Society for Arts and Technology [SAT- MONTREAL].

WE MEET IN THE AVANT GARDEN The Avant Garden – a conceptual exhibition showcasing the proposed solution to the research question. It is multi-platform, roaming structure that will house cutting edge creative programming and exchange in a festival atmosphere in various locations throughout Geelong and then across regional Victoria. The Avant Garden is an independent creative site, fertile and experimental with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and best practice approaches to art, design, culture, environmental sustainability, and healthy communities. The Avant Garden is conceived in 3 stages. 1 Sowing the Seeds – which you are experiencing now. 2 Growing the Garden – where we expand the dialogue and engage designers, artists, architects, creative practitioners, community workers, project partners and many others from diverse areas to realise the shared vision. 3 – The Garden Party where the build of the Avant Garden tours our region. This exhibition showcases initial digital animations, virtual structures and production designs of the Avant Garden where Geelong Design Week audiences are invited to view the work and to interact with the Augmented Reality (AR) structure by using the QR CODES and see progress to date. Audiences can feedback their ideas on the website and have input into the design of the Avant Garden.


The translation of speculative creative practice, or in this case speculative design practice, as seen in the AVANT GARDEN project, is challenging to report for the institutional requirements of an NTRO. This is due to the character limitations on reporting and as the work does not neatly fit into the FOR codes. The creative practice work here are digital works, animations, new typefaces, architectural drawings, design artefacts and exhibition materials, which demonstrates a significant contribution in answer to the research question. The narrow bands of reporting NTRO aligns to a single piece/work/painting and has not grown or changed in light of professional industry changes nor breadth of output. Potentially in reporting this work, I may have been better to report each individual component, but this would have amounted to over 20 items. I was advised to pop the whole in as the one project. Now, through this system, it reflects one NTRO work. Yet in this example, many components informed and constructed the whole in answer to a complex research project. The multifaceted nature of this project meant that each creative output sought to  answer a different aspect of the research question – and in this one considers the boundaries of an ‘NTRO output’. As this was a multifaceted approach reflecting various nuances of the research question – should each of the works have been a single NTRO?

Dr. Tonya Meyrick has 25yrs experience developing complex design and creative projects partnering with international governments, education institutes, and corporate and community partners. Project partners include the ABC, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Disney, Visa, Telstra, Coca Cola, The Government of Palau, the Melbourne Fringe Festival, City Lights Projects, Federation Square, UNESCO and the United Nations in Australia, Kuwait and USA among many others.

As a Senior Lecturer in Screen & Design with Deakin University, Australia, Tonya is a research fellow with the Deakin Motion Lab at Deakin University; a nominated member of the International Society of Typographers UK (ISTD) and Chair of Creative Geelong. She educates across typography, UX, branding, studio design practice and design pedagogy and has worked as a communication designer and design consultant for over 25 years in collaboration with national and international clients. Tonya’s practice-based research focuses on the intersections and boundaries of design, technology, and digital engagement. Tonya has exhibited her creative practice and spoken internationally on typography, branding and design in Australia, New Zealand, Greece, China, Japan, Kuwait, and the UK.

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