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Berto Pandolfo


Berto Pandolfo’s teaching covers the history of industrial design from the industrial revolution to the present day, technical and visual communication for industrial designers and industry linked studio projects for third and fourth year industrial design students.

There are three major directions to his research;

  • the first focuses on how new and emerging technologies can benefit both industrial design and the end user in a non-exclusive manner.
  • The second is the articulation and validation of practice-led design research.
  • The third area of interest is an investigation into what industrial design can learn from the successes and failures of the Australian manufacturing industry during the period 1940-1990.

The Digifacture industry-linked project which he led in 2010 explored the technology of selective laser sintering [SLS] as a possible new method of product manufacture.

Berto is passionate about the optimistic nature of industrial design. No matter what the challenge, the discovery of innovative and clever solutions is the driver that confirms Berto’s belief in the value of the industrial design profession.

Image of Berto Pandolfo
Course Director, Industrial Design, School of Design
Associate Member, Centre for Contemporary Design Practice
BA ID, MA Domus Academy
+61 2 9514 8986

Research Interests

Research interests in design are focused around the aim to investigate and experiment how new and emerging technologies can be introduced and ultimately benefit product design and the end user in a non-exclusive manner. Another key area of interest is the articulation and validation of practice-led design research.

History of Industrial Design
Industrial Design Project
Technical Communication


pandolfo 2014, 'Taking Design from Concept to Production and the Consumer', Technology Education: Learning for Life, Griffith university, pp. 54-61.
For many industrial designers the object continues to remain a central focus of their practice. In industrial design education it is important for students to learn about making beyond an abstract notion and beyond the construction of one-off prototypes to appreciate the complexity and challenges actually involved. It was the need to address this limitation in industrial design education that the id.shop emerged. The id.shop was developed to expose students to the challenges involved in managing design, manufacture and sales of an object they designed. The value of making is appreciated across society. Pedagogically it has long been valued as a vital part of education. The emergence of new digital technologies together with online retailing now present unlimited opportunities for designers to establish their own design based enterprises. The id.shop now in its fifteenth edition, is combining the small batch production focus with an experience in students managing their own designer maker enterprise.
Pandolfo, B. & Verghese, G. 2013, 'Successful Design Briefs are not all Black and White', Crafting the Future, The University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, pp. 1-10.
The task of a designer is to project the future into the present by articulating a possible outcome to an existing condition. This paper will examine the outcomes of these projections, through a comparative analysis of a controlled group of design students designing products and spaces for birthing units. Linked to a larger interdisciplinary study on the impact of birthing unit design on communication between birthing mothers, staff and family/support members, this research provided an opportunity to explore practice-led research together with case studies and literature reviews of current conditions. With the educational design directive to explore conceptual ideas, the first of two groups of students were presented with a standard written brief for the redesign of birthing units. They were asked to focus on either: a product, space, or combination of product and spatial design to address the needs of a birthing unit. A second group were given the same problem but were also provided with detailed video ethnographic information to supplement the written brief. The aim of this paper is to critically reflect upon the differences in the outcomes of a traditional form of design brief with that of the brief using video ethnography. By examination of all the factors affecting the complex context of birthing units, and the mode of communication of a project brief, this paper will present its findings that will facilitate future design briefs for birthing units to lead to more appropriate outcomes. In doing so the issue of whether or not a black and white text document is sufficient for improving the design of birthing units.
Pandolfo, B. 2012, 'The Power and Glory: A report on the Rise and Fall of the Australian Made Electric Drill', 39th Annual ICOHTEC Meeting: Technology, the Arts and Industrial Culture, ICOHTEC (International Committee for the History of Technology), Barcelona, pp. 101-101.
The paper presented a report on the trajectory of the Australian made electric drill as seen through the eyes of media publications that included newspaper, trade journals, radio and television advertising. Documenting the evolution of the drill from revolutionary innovation to commodity item will provide the fields of manufacturing, business and design useful insights into the life cycle of a typology, as oppsed to a single product. The analysis is not conducted using quantitative based criteria, instead it uses reports, advertisements and endorsements revealed publicly through the diverse news and entertainment media.
Pandolfo, B. 2009, 'Office Tools: Investigating work for emerging users - A studio project case study.', Designing Designers: Offices and workplaces for knowledge workers., Edizioni Poli Design, Milan, Italy, pp. 65-70.
The paper outlines the methods and results of a project undertaken with fourth year Industrial design students, at the Department of Industrial Design, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia. The intention was to encourage an intense engagement by students in the project and to allow them to uncover new insights into the field of Do-It Yourself (DIY) tools and equipment and to address these with their design outcomes.
Pandolfo, B., Bohemia, E. & Harman, K. 2007, 'Rediscovering Apprenticeship Models in Design Education', Creativity or Conformity? Building Cultures of Creativity in Higher Education, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Wales, pp. 1-6.
Apprenticeship models of learning have generated renewed interest in learning and adult education literature during the last decade. This paper suggests that this model of learning might potentially open up learning spaces in the academy that traditionally might not have been available in this learning context. It proposes that a communities of practice model could be useful for developing both student and lecturer professional practice in the field of design. Two case studies are used to highlight some of the potential as well as some of the issues surrounding the implementation of this learning model.
Pandolfo, B. & Talbot, J. 2006, 'Consumer Insight - Culturally Driven An industrial design studio project case study.', Designing Designers: Design evolution by east and west - new ambients, new products, new designers, Edizioni Poli Design, Milano, Italy, pp. 133-138.
Pandolfo, B. & Talbot, J. 2004, 'Enhancing investigation and insight in design studio projects: The great Divide - A studio project case study.', Design schools as factories of knowledge - Research through desgn education, Edizioni Poli Design, Milano, Italy, pp. 15-20.
The paper will outline the methods and results of a project undertaken with third year Industrial design students, at the Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. It was carried out in Session 2, 2002, between August 22 and October 10. Three university staff members where involved, Jonathan Talbot, Rina Bernabei and Berto Pandolfo. The project involved external collaborators who were researchers/practitioners from the fields of; sociology, psychology, television/new media design and industrial design. The intention was to encourage an intense engagement by students in the project and to allow them to uncover new insights into contemporary living and to address these with their design outcomes.

Journal articles

Pandolfo, B. 2014, 'Sher', The Tool Chest, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 19-20.
Sher was a Melbourne based company that manufactured a wide variety of power tools, including portable electric drills, circular saws and routers. Sher also owns the title of being the first manufacturer of power tools in Australia.
Pandolfo, B. 2005, 'Implied Volume', be, vol. May, pp. 15-15.
An essay discussing the outcomes of my PLY project which were selected for inclusion in the Global Local exhibition held at Object Gallery, Sydney, 2005 and curated by Brian Parkes.
Pandolfo, B. 2004, 'Dining Design', Uniken, vol. 14, pp. 10-10.
A review of the international collaborative design project: Dining Design, from the my perspective as lecturer and project co-ordinator.
Pandolfo, B. 2003, 'The Clever Country', Inside Interior Review, vol. 28, pp. 38-38.
A new version of the Sunbeam Mixamaster was due to be released; this article reviewed the new design and includes a brief history of the Mixmaster product dating back to 1948.
Pandolfo, B. 2003, 'Design Dream: Arrivano I Giovani Aussie', Casa Vogue, vol. April, no. 15, pp. 20-21.
Written in Italian, the article discusses the most recent designs from Australian designers presenting their work at the 'Salone del Mobile', the Milan Furniture Fair of 2003.
Pandolfo, B. 2000, 'Morrison: The Economy of Expressive Means', Inside Interior Review, vol. 15, pp. 38-40.
The article is about English industrial designer Jasper Morrison whom I interviewed.
Pandolfo, B. 2000, 'The Designer Supermarket', Inside Interior Review, vol. 16, pp. 88-91.
This is an interview article I wrote about the internationally acclaimed industrial designer Stefano Giovannoni.
Pandolfo, B. 2000, 'Salone 2000', Inside Interior Review, vol. 16, pp. 94-95.
I visited the Milan Internaional Furniture Fair in April 2000, Italy. This article reviews the fair identifying any new particular trends and product releases.
Pandolfo, B. 2000, 'Antonio Citterio: Total Design', Inside Interior Review, vol. 17, pp. 100-103.
In April 2000 I visted the studio of Antonio Citterio, an acclaimed architect and industrial designer. I interviewed Citterio and wrote an article about his thoughts on design.
Pandolfo, B. 2000, 'Whirpool: Innovation Through Design', Inside Interior Review, vol. 17, pp. 106-107.
The Whirlpool Global Product Design & Usability Division conducted a design workshop - Macrowave. This article reviews the outcomes of this workshop which include designs by Konstantin Grcic and Christophe Pillet.
Pandolfo, B. 1999, 'Il Maestro', Architecture Review (AR) Australia, vol. 69, no. spring, pp. 86-89.
This is an article I wrote about internationally recognised architect and industrial designer Mario Bellini. I interviewed Bellini in his studio, Milan, Italy.

Non traditional outputs

Pandolfo, B., 'SRV Tray (Vogue People Choice Award, Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards)', Bacardi Lion Australia, Vogue People Choice Award, Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards, Vogue People Choice Award, Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards.
The SRV project emerged out of research into the two dimensional nature of drink and food serving trays. Existing products are only differentiated by aesthetic design and material choice. The SRV has two distinguishing features: its dual function as both tray and fruitholder; and the visual challenge to the object's two-dimensional nature through the suggestion of depth created by the positioning of a semi-transparent material directly above another that is shaped and formed. The SRV project was awarded: the People's Choice Award, one of the awards linked to the 2005 Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award, one of Australia's most important design competitions and subsequently selected as part of the touring exhibition of the 2007 Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award; a Certificate of Recognition after being shortlisted for the 2006 (Inside) IDEA Awards; and a Distinction Award in the Design for Europe (2006) competition organized by The Interieur Foundation, Belgium and included in the exhibition 'Interieur06'. The SRV project investigates the effect of creating depth and volume in otherwise flat objects. The objective of creating an illusion is achieved by combining different materials of different transparencies and calculated surface design. My contribution provides a unique solution that maintains the ability to satisfy primary functions but includes a system that offers a new visual dimension and appeal. The SRV project provides a platform for the development of new objects that can now be distinguished from existing products and therefore creating a new typology of product.
Pandolfo, B., 'Implied Volume', Global Local; Import Export: Global Influences in Contemporary Design, Australian Centre for Craft and Design, Object Gallery, Sydney; Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The Implied Volume series of designs emerged out of research into how voluminous forms can be achieved in object design without the need for complex, costly and restrictive industrial methods. The design outcomes: RAK (coat stand), RIV (magazine rack) and TAV (dining table) were selected for exhibition in Global Local, Object Gallery Sydney, 4 January - 27 Feb 2005 (in conjunction with Import Export at Sydney Opera House). Both exhibitions, curated by Brian Parkes, were part of Sydney Festival 2005. The work was also included in the exhibition, Import Export: Global Influences in Contemporary Design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 20 September - 4 December 2005. In object design, complex forms using plywood have been achieved through moulding by designers such as Frank Gehry, Karim Rashid and Jasper Morrison. My investigation was to develop voluminous forms without moulding. To this end I was inspired by the work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, 20th century human movement scientists from the USA. Wire models they created depicted the action of a specific production assembly line task. These models represented for me a three dimensional line in space that inferred movement, mass and purpose. In maintaining a link to the 'line', I used computer numerical controlled (CNC) technology as an industrial connection. To transform the line into voluminous forms, the methodology of interlocking flat sheet material was incorporated. The project demonstrates that complex and voluminous forms can be achieved using simple construction techniques in combination with technologies that have now become commonplace in small workshops and fabrication businesses.
Pandolfo, B., 'Safety Catch', UTS Gallery, Sydney.
'Safety Catch' was developed in response to a number of design initiatives: in 2005, Paola Antonelli curated 'Safe: Design Takes On Risk' exhibition at Museum of Modern Art, New York, where the issue of how security can pervade objects from the 'most mundane to the most exceptional' was demonstrated. Also in 2005, in London, designer Matthias Megyeri developed a range of products that satisfy the primary concern of safety and security but are also light hearted and humorous. These examples underline an optimistic undercurrent in design that has been identified as critical design. Critical design is design that asks questions and encourages the user to think rather than accept how things are now. A response to critical design from an Australian perspective was seen as the prime objective to the Safety Catch project. Australian designers - bernabeifreeman, Robert Foster, Adam Goodrum, korban/flaubert, Stefan Lie, Ruth McDermott, and schamburg + alvisse - were invited to provide a response to issues of safety and security communicated through the medium of object design. As curator I selected eight designs that covered a range of typologies (lighting, furniture, object), scale and message. The resulting exhibition (8 Aug-1 Sept) established a provocative mix of work targeting local significance and those that spoke to international issues. Safety and security were presented to the viewer in challenging terms, drawing further questions from the exhibition which enabled a continuation of the discussion.
Pandolfo, B., 'JOOGE, BUCO, LOR and CYL', Conversations of Things New, Parcel, Object Gallery, Surry Hills, Sydney; The Shard, Federation Square, Melbourne.
The exhibition 'Conversation of Things New' curated by Heidi Dokulil and held at Object Gallery, St Margaret's Complex, Sydney, September 2-24, 2006, explored 'a unique collaborative process between some of Australia's freshest and youngest designers, and Italy's rich heritage of manufacturers'. (Exhibition Catalogue, p. 4.). The designers included Abi Alice, Simone LeAmon, Matrc Newson, Steven Blaess, Susan Cohn, Berto Pandolfo, Helen Kontouris, Brodie Neill, Adam Goodrum, Lisa Vinicitorio, Brian Steendyk and Shareen Joel. The manufacturers included: Alessi; B&B Italia, Cappellini, Edra, \Erreti, Flos, Kundalini, Magis, Moroso, Oluce, Outlook Design Italis, Progetti and Serralunga. Four of my designs were selected for exhibition: JOOGE outdoor lighting fixture, BUCO door stop, LOR clock and CYL photo frame. Secondary support material presented in the exhibition included: anecdotal conversations between myself and the Italian manufacturers, sketches, photographs, prototypes and production samples of each design. Together my four designs form a unique collection of objects. They represent design projects that have utilised both advanced and low-tech manufacturing methods, they are objects manufactured by both large and small companies and they target markets both low and high. My contribution to the industrial design field demonstrates that international collaborative design projects can operate with radically different project parameters and produce innovative and diverse of design outcomes.
Pandolfo, B., 'Engagement Through Design', Indesign, Indesign Publishing, Sydney, Australia.
The Safety Catch project invited a group of Australian designers to respond to the issue of safety and security. Their reaction was delivered through the medium of object design, the collection of responses formed the Safety Catch exhibition that was staged at the UTS Gallery in August 2006. A majority of design activity today can be described as being affirmative in its nature i.e. reinforcing how things are now, conforming to the current cultural, social, technical and economic situation. In recent times however, a more optimistic undercurrent in design has been identified, which has been termed critical design. The Safety Catch exhibition attempts to present a collection of critical design work from Australian based designers.
Pandolfo, B., 'CRM', CRM; Launch Pad 2007 Finalist Exhibition; Substance: Diverse Practices from the Periphery, DAB LAB, DAB LAB; Living Edge, Sydney & Melbourne; Centre for Visual Art, Metro State Denver, USA.
The CRM project emerged out of research into the role of sheet metal in early European Australian settlement. Sheet metal was particularly valued as a material in the domestic environment. Object analysis revealed a reduction form along with a basic geometric form. Complex form in sheet metal objects is the exclusive domain of expensive press tools or skilled artisans. The objective was to explore how objects of complex form could be constructed using less restricted methods. The CRM project was initially exhibited at Dab Lab, (9 May - 14 June 2007), subsequently selected as a finalist for the Launch Pad exhibition, Living Edge Sydney (26 July - 17 August 2007) and Melbourne (29 August - 16 Sept); and in the group exhibition 'Substance: Diverse Practices from the Periphery', Centre for Visual Art, Metropolitan State College of Denver, USA, (6 Sept - 9 Nov 2007). I identified an opportunity to investigate the creation of complex forms using methods employed by sheet metal fabricators. I positioned my investigation between objects that are made using financially prohibitive, technologically based methods and those that are labour intensive. My contribution provides a unique solution that combines aspects of different fabrication methods, creative problem solving and contemporary design. The CRM project provides a platform for the development of new objects that are complex in form and relatively low cost. The combination of computerized numerical control technology and manual workmanship has enabled a new method of designing and making for designers that offer new possibilities for the development of objects in their practices that are more financially sustainable. The project was funded by the Australian Visual Arts/craft Board and an Early Career Research Grant from UNSW.
Pandolfo, B., 'Ilt Table Lamp', Workshopped 08 - Design '08, Chifley Plaza, dhub.org, sydneydesign.com.au, australiandesign.org.au,.
ILT - table light. Materials - acrylic and aluminium.The ILT light is the result of a research project into cold-forming acrylic sheet. Cold-forming is the ability to create form without the need for moulds or external inputs such as heat and pressure. The design exploits acrylic's natural characteristics of crystal-like transparency and limited flexibility. The bottom cylindrical part serves as a base to keep the light vertical, being clear it allows light to escape onto the table surface. The visual mass of the light is also reduced by the clear base and a sense of weightlessness is achieved. The top cylinder or diffuser can be produced using either opaque or transparent acrylic, depending on what type of illumination is desired. The ILT table light was selected to be exhibited in the Workshopped exhibition together with 30 other designs.Information about Workshopped, visit - www.workshopped.com.au
Walden, R.J. & Pandolfo, B., 'Digifacture: Industrial Design and Advanced Manufacturing - A New Relationship', Fraser Studio.
Digifacture comprised a number of different elements each producing different outcomes: a design studio developed and produced original objects, an exhibition presented the research to a wider community and a catalogue provided documentation. The focus of the project was a practice-led investigation of industrial design and advanced manufacturing technologies, specifically, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal Lasering Sintering (DMLS), technologies that enable rapid manufacture of objects in high performance materials and are predicted to challenge traditional manufacturing systems. Eight designers and artists (UTS researchers and external practitioners) participated: Douglas Nash, Stefan Lie, Shelden Vaughan, Bert Bongers, Jos Mulder, Adam Goodrum, Roderick Walden and Berto Pandolfo. The exhibition was held in collaboration with the Powerhouse Museum's design festival, Design10, at the Fraser Studio gallery, Sydney, August 5-10 2010, and was opened by Prof. Kees Dorst with guests from the design and manufacturing sectors, media and the general public. Geometric complexity, part unification and customised product variants are advantages these technologies offer over the current set of manufacturing systems that industrial designers are typically trained to develop designs for. The research investigated how these advantages might manifest in future products, necessary changes to design processes, and the impact on manufacturing methods. The research presented demonstrates innovative applications of SLS and DMLS, along with important insights for design and design for manufacture. Digifacture received financial and in kind support from Advanced Manufacturing Services (an industry partner), the UTS Centre for Contemporary Design Practice (CCDP) and the Industrial Design Program at UTS. http://www.advancedmanufacturing.com.au/media/Digifacture.pdf
Pandolfo, B., 'LOOK', Safety Catch, DAB DOCS, UTS Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, UTS Gallery.
The LOOK series of mirrors was included in the exhibition, Safety Catch (UTS Gallery 8 August- 1 September 2006). A prime objective of the Safety Catch project was the presentation of a response from an Australian perspective to the emergent issue of critical design. In the exhibition, the concept of critical design was understood as design that asks questions and engages the user in reflective and speculative processes, challenging preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. As curator of the exhibition, I invited a range of Australian object designers to respond to issues of safety and security. Following the framing concept, I selected the mirror as an object that could be investigated further. The LOOK series of mirrors emerged out of questions around the extent of impact an object could have on the user's awareness of and interaction with things and people around them. The series was composed of three round, same-sized mirrors, each incorporating a different component that literally challenged the user's view. The mirrors were configured in such a way that while maintaining their primary reflective function, users also looked 'into' the mirror, inviting a reflection beyond themselves. Confronted with elegantly incorporated yet disturbing elements such as red laser target lights, tangles of barbed wire and rifle bulles, the tone of the design intervention was provocative and used the strategy of a 'double-take' to elicit response.
Pandolfo, B., 'SPK bowl', Digifacture: Industrial Design and Advanced Manufcaturing - A New Relationship, DAB Doc, Fraser Studio.
The SPK bowl was one of the seven projects that comprised Digifacture a practice-led investigation of industrial design and advanced manufacturing technologies, specifically, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal Lasering Sintering (DMLS), that enable rapid manufacture of objects in high performance materials and are predicted to challenge traditional manufacturing systems. The SPK bowl emerged out of research into the extent that SLS technology would be suitable as an alternative manufacturing method. Existing manufacturing methods require either time consuming hand craft skills or costly and restrictive industrial methods such as injection moulding or sheet metal pressing. The SPK bowl provides a unique solution that maintains the ability to satisfy the primary function of a container and visual object yet also is an object that could not be made using any other method. Exploiting the inherent peculiarities of the SLS technology enabled me to uncover a design solution which would be virtually impossible to make using other methods. The SPK bowl is significant as it represents an outcome from a practice-led research investigation into a new manufacturing paradigm that is, the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology can generate final (market ready) objects direct from the 3D CAD model, thus avoiding the well established path of prototyping, testing, tooling and assembly. The SPK bowl also provides a platform for the development of new objects that can now be distinguished from existing products and therefore create a new typology of product.
Pandolfo, B., 'CRS', Workshopped 11, Sydney Design, Sydney.
The CRS (crease) container project is an investigation into the application of creasing or pleating using sheet metal. Inspiration was drawn from the way dress makers are able to make fabric follow the human body. Many garments such as dress pants and suite jackets are created using some form of pleat or crease to ensure that unsightly and uncomfortable crumpling of the fabric is minimised or completely avoided. Pleating or creasing fabric is relatively straight forward; performing this process on sheet metal is not as simple. Following on from previous sheet metal experiments which investigated the idea of complex form creation using a combination of manual and technological methods, I adopted the same idea of perforating the sheet metal along a designated fold line. CRS is a concept for combining perforating and manual folding as a means to create objects, in this case a series of containers. The objects are constructed using mild steel, the perorations are made using a laser cutter and colour is applied using spray-painting technology
Pandolfo, B., 'BLK', Frugal, UTS Industrial Design, Ambush Gallery.
When timber is used in the construction of housing and furniture, an inevitable by-product of the production process is off-cuts. These small pieces of timber are often odd sizes, they are deemed no longer useful and are then relegated to the waste pile and eventually disposed. BLK is created to make use of premium quality discarded timber, it is assembled to highlight the end grain of the timber as a butchers block does. BLK uses the different lengths of timber, and the irregular nature of the underside reflects the aesthetic of the undulating surface of a well-used butchers block.
Pandolfo, B., 'blk', blk, DAB DOCS 2013, NG Art Pop Up Gallery.