WILLIAM LE LIEVRE, FDIA – 1924–2016

A PIONEERING INTERIOR DESIGNER

William (Bill) Le Lievre was a pioneering interior designer in Melbourne, who began his career as a consultant designer at Georges Ltd in Collins Street, where he practiced for more than six years.

Bill was born in Kyneton, Victoria in 1924 and was educated at Wagga Wagga High School. After serving in the Australian Armed forces in WW II, he enrolled in the inaugural Interior Design Diploma at the Royal Melbourne Technical College (later RMIT University) conducted by Frederich Sterne in 1946. It was here that he met fellow student Keera Cameron, who he married ten years later, and they went on to form a business partnership lasting thirty years when they created William. Le Lievre Interiors, at 1120 High Street, Armadale.

Le Lievre Interiors had a strong commercial base of clients including Dunlop, Shell, Repco, Hungerfords and Pioneer Concrete. The interiors work also embraced healthcare, with the design of professional suites at the Austin Hospital, staff lounges at the Alfred Hospital, and interiors at the Royal Southern Memorial Hospital.

The studio also worked with many leading architects including Neil Clerehan, Ted Ashton and Daryl Jackson. The strongest area of the practice, however, lay in the domestic sphere, and there were engagements with many hundreds of clients over the years.

Bill was a Charter Member and President of the Interior Designers Association (1956), which was to merge into the Society of Designers for Industry before becoming the Industrial Design Institute of Australia and then the current Design Institute of Australia.

During his professional life Bill was a passionate advocate for design in Australia, and he represented the profession at a national and international level. He was a member of the Design Council, the Textile Board, the RMIT Course Advisory Council and he was a CAE lecturer for more than thirty years.

Bill was a member and Past President of the Malvern Rotary Club. He became a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia in 1985, and was ultimately inducted into the Institute’s Hall of Fame in 1997, together with Keera, his wife and partner for sixty years.

Bill passed peacefully on September 1, 2016. He leaves his wife Keera, and children David, Carol, Andrew, and Chele, and grandchildren Riley, Perri, Nicholas, Sassika, Oliver and Camilla.

Geoff Fitzpatrick LFDIA

CARL NIELSEN LFDIA, A DESIGNER’S LIFE (1930 to 2016)

Carl Nielsen was a pioneering giant in Australian design and he has left an impressive and significant legacy.

Nielsen was born on June 30, 1930 in Randwick NSW, and shortly thereafter the family moved to Melbourne, where he attended Scotch College.

He enrolled in the Industrial Design Diploma at Melbourne Technical College (later RMIT University), and on graduating he returned to Sydney and pursued his interest in photography, designed and built furniture and joined Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA), before travelling overseas to work for UK appliance companies.

Returning to Australia, Carl Nielsen & Associates (NDA) opened their small office in 1962 in North Sydney, and claimed to be one of the first independent industrial design consultancies to operate in Sydney.

By 1982 Nielsen Design Associates had developed into a highly regarded multi-disciplinary design practice offering services in graphics, interior design and model making, as well as industrial design.

Nielsen was one of the early members of the Society of Designers for Industry, (later to become the Industrial Design Institute of Australia (IDIA). He was invited to become its second Federal President. When the Commonwealth Government founded the Industrial Design Council of Australia (IDCA), he was invited to join the Council.

In the 1960s, he did some part-time teaching on the Industrial Design Post-Graduate Diploma course at the University of NSW. In 1974, when the NSW Government conducted an inquiry into art and design education, Nielsen was on the investigating committee. According to the Indesign Luminary Archive, in 2004, “The final outcome of this investigation was the establishment of a new College of Advanced Education. This was the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), founded in 1976. Nielsen was asked to head up the Industrial Design Department, which he did for a year (while also running NDA), becoming Principal Lecturer on a fractional full-time, in effect, part-time, basis. “I’ve never seen myself as an academic, [but] I was getting pretty involved in education and I saw in it an opportunity to really make some change in the system.”

He pursued these two careers in tandem for some years. When the Federal Government abolished Colleges of Advanced Education – leaving only Colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFES) and universities – the design school of SCA amalgamated with the NSW Institute of Technology. In 1988, it became the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), with Nielsen as Associate Professor of the Industrial Design Program within a new faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. (The art school was subsumed into the University of Sydney.)

Also noted in the Luminary Archive “Some of the most well-known products designed in the NDA office in the 1960s and 70s are still around today. The company’s design for the Café Bar was innovative, effective and timely and was so successful that it became an almost ubiquitous addition to offices and factories around the country. The Optima Chair for Sebel is another example. The innovative design for this stackable upholstered chair meant that it required no specialist upholstery skills in its manufacture. It is still produced locally and under license in several countries overseas. In 1981 NDA began work for the Department of Main Roads, (now RTA) on a design for the pedestrian push button units found on traffic lights. By eliminating switching failure problems caused by water ingress and vandalism, the design has proved a lasting success. The units remain in use here and in many cities around the world.”

In 1985 he embarked on a Master of Arts Degree, which he was awarded in 1987. As part of the course requirements, he wrote a dissertation called Industrial Design in Australia, based on an extensive questionnaire to around 380 Australian manufacturing companies. Sadly, he said, “All it did was reinforce my notion that industrial design wasn’t generally seen as a major input to industry. “Even today”, he said, “too many companies look upon design as a cost, not an investment, whereas the design of their product is really what their business is all about.”

At both SCA and UTS, Nielsen introduced forth year students to ‘the business’ of being an industrial designer. “I literally ran the class the way I ran the business [at NDA]. I introduced a work experience program. I used to encourage very close contact with the students and I felt my biggest input was in having discussions with them about any issue they might raise. It was never ‘chalk and talk’, it was conversation.”

He has always found teaching stimulating and satisfying, and in 1999, in acknowledgement of his ‘debt’ to the students and staff at UTS, he established The Carl Nielsen Professional Development Award – a $2,000 study/travel grant to be awarded annually to an Industrial Design graduate student.

Douglas Tomkin, the current Development Director at UTS said, “Carl was valued highly by both staff and students alike. He was dedicated and serious about design education, and he felt that teaching as a one-on-one process”.

Adam Laws, the current CEO of Nielsen Design, spoke warmly of Nielsen and his wife Judy, and has carried their principles forward as inspiring founders of the practice. Former work colleague and lifetime friend, Don Goodwin, was effusive in his praise of Nielsen and the pioneering work of the practice. Dr Brandon Gien, Good Design Australia’s CEO, remembers Nielsen as one of the ‘kindest and most approachable of people’.

Nielsen was a Founding Councilor of the Australian Design Academy, was elected a Life Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia (1991), established the Carl Nielsen Professional Development Award at UTS (1999) was appointed Honorary Adjunct Professor at UTS (2000 to 2003) and inducted into the Design Institute’s Hall of Fame (2008)

Nielsen passed peacefully, after a long illness, on July 30, with his wife Judy by his side.

Geoff Fitzpatrick LFDIA