The DIA’s Australian Graduate of the Year Awards is the primary program for emerging designers.

The program will continue to support graduates from all design streams and new developments with potential internships and mentor programs are being sought out currently. Dates and further announcements will be released next month for the national program.

Our AGOTYA Award for Excellence judging panel:
  • Cassie Hansen, Editor of Artichoke magazine
  • Geoff Fitzpatrick, LFDIA
  • Jo Kellock, CEO, Design Institute of Australia

We would like to acknowledge the wonderful support of the SIDA foundation for their ongoing support and providing the prizes for each of the 2016 Awards winners.

2016 Award for Excellence

Yan Lin
Graphic Design
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Judges comments

There were some excellent candidates for this year’s AGOTYA. However Yan Lin’s project ‘Homeward’ was distinguished by its outstanding presentation and response to the brief. Its use of a complex visual language and a culturally sensitive communication system showed a sophistication that one would expect to see in an experienced professional practice.

I look forward to following Yan Lin’s career path as ‘one to watch’, her work having now been identified with this prestigious award and like so many winners that have gone before her and who have emerged to be leaders in their design discipline.

Jo Kellock, CEO, Design Institute of Australia

The winning project, titled ‘Homeward’ by student Yan Lin, is a wonderful combination of exemplarily typography, illustration and beautiful packaging.

The concept of presenting four books, based on four seasons and family recipes, was engaging and confidentially underwrites Chinese family culture at the heart of the work. The elegant graphical displays sit beautifully on the page, and the very considered colour choice for the titles and illustrations is perfect.

This is a memorable project for its heartfelt sentiments and strong beliefs in family and traditional values, which are sensitively and cleverly interpreted and captured with wonderful skill. This student exhibits confidence and maturity and is poised to make a significant contribution to professional practice within a short space of time.

Geoff Fitzpatrick LFDIA

Winners comments

I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the Design Institute of Australia, the organisation of the AGOTYA. To the judges in the Graphic Design panel for the AGOTYA category, David Pidgeon from Design by Pidgeon, David Lancashire from David Lancashire Design and Richie Meldrum from Yoke Design. The AGOTYA overall Award for Excellence judges Jo Kellock the DIA CEO, Cassie Hansen from Architecture Media and Geoff Fitzpatrick for their insights and offerings.

I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to my family, for their hours of patience, respect, and love; they have supported me in all my undertakings and giving me the opportunity to follow my dream. To my friends and tutors at the University of Technology Sydney, for their inspiring guidance, support and encouragement throughout the course of my university life. Thank you all for your immeasurable amount of care and mentoring. I am eternally grateful and blessed.

Yan Lin

AGOTYA Award Category judging panel:

AGOTYA Category Winners

Fashion and Textiles
Michelle De Castro
RMIT University, Melbourne

Project submission and biography

Judges' citation

Michelle DeCastro's Fashion and Textile submission was impressive in many ways. Her presentation was clear, effective and well thought out in meeting the brief to present her designs and concepts. More than just lovely design, her submission was not only 'artistic,' it focused on the use of today's technology opportunities for design and manufacture. Of course, her designs had visual beauty and style, but they also showed a high level of 'solutions thinking' that is needed today to combine design ideas and design fulfilment.
Susan Lauter

Encapsulated in Michelle Decastro’s AGOTYA project was a creative and sophisticated understanding of textile design, apparel engineering and advanced material application. Her use of emerging technologies such as bonding, laser cutting and 3D printing demonstrated a clear vision with ambition and expertise. The versatility with which she responded to each of the briefs for Olio, Global Traveller and Superstruct was outstanding.
Jo Kellock
CEO, Design Institute of Australia

Graphic Design
Yan Lin
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Project submission and biography

Judges' citation

This body of work stood out for its restrained simplicity of execution and depth of conceptual rigour. The moulding of cultural influence into inventive design exploration and solution showed a level of mature thinking not often seen within a student folio.
Daivd Pidgeon

Industrial Design
Amy Leedham
University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Project submission and biography

Judges' citation

Amy has demonstrated a thorough development process. She has shown great empathy for the intended users and stakeholders of each project, and has been able to draw on her understanding and research of current trends and technologies to turn this empathy into highly functional product solutions. Her responses to the given briefs, and by providing full system solutions for each, are ambitious and technically challenging in their requirements. It is evident that Amy has worked hard to understand and resolve all areas of her projects, and in doing so has demonstrated a well-rounded design approach that is a great basis for her design career.
Libby Christmas and
Mark Johnson

Interior Design
Mitchell Boyd Parkinson
Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Project submission and biography

Judges' citation

The winner demonstrates the ability to think in a broad context, across sectors, engaging the interfacing between architecture, landscape and interior design, amplifying human interaction in immersive environments. The broadness in their thinking through the social, economic and life cycle sustainable criteria's demonstrates a sensitivitiy in conceptual design thinking, balanced with pragmatism. Creative effectiveness through their graphic presentations are succinct demonstrating the level of rigor in thought, distilling their ideas to the core essence in each solution.
Susan Standring

A thoughtful assessment and expression of the brief was evident in each of the projects presented. A solid understanding of spatial relationships, movement of people through space, and ability to link research and reference works to the design outcome was displayed. This designer also showed a good understanding of presentation skills, outlining in words, images and plans/elevations/sections the design story for each project.
Heidi Smith

Interior Design & Decoration
Rosie Schofiled
Enmore Design Centre

Project submission and biography

Judges' citation

Well articulated, visually and verbally and demonstrating a mature understanding and definition of the brief, these projects represent the development of 3 unique and evocative concepts, using artistic and well executed model making as a means of communication and exploration. This designer confidently uses a range of intellectual, emotional and spatial elements cleverly combined to communicate the full space and experience, drawn on research and combined with a sophisticated and sensitive understanding and application of materiality and scale. I would personally love to experience all 3 of these spaces, but perhaps am most drawn to the Spritz in Portofino.
Tanya Hillman

The work presented by Rosie Schloeffel for the 2016 AGOTYA Award in the discipline of Decoration + Design stood out as the overall winner in the way she responded to each brief. She has demonstrated a competent approach to the design solutions for each project creating exciting interior spaces and clever use of natural light. An application of a variety of interesting materials specified with subtle use of colour and great attention to detail made her work most impressive to me.
Hendrikus Berkers


The DIA has a state-based GOTYA (Graduate of the Year) program that takes place at the start of each year. GOTYA winners are automatically in the running for an AGOTYA award.

AGOTYA entries are judged by respected DIA members and design practitioners in May each year. Images of last years' judging and entries can be found on the AGOTYA Facebook page.