Assoc Prof Simone Taffe

Associate Professor and Program Coordinator in Communication Design, Co-design and Branding and Identity Design at Swinburne University
Melbourne Victoria
Humanities and Social Sciences
Industry Engagement

Simone brings extensive industry and design experience to her role as Associate Professor in Communication Design, Co-design and Branding and Identity Design at Swinburne University of Technology.

Her career began in graphic design with Coles Myer before managing the design studio at the City of Melbourne by the age of 25. This was a formidable period in her development; she quickly grew from being a technical specialist to managing a team of 10 who were charged with the exciting role of building a brand for the City of Melbourne.

After 7 years, Simone joined leading Melbourne design consultancy Flett Henderson Arnold – now Futurebrand – working with major brands such as ANZ, NAB, Lendlease, BHP Billiton, and the Sydney Olympics. But due to the loss of a major account many staff were retrenched, Simone being one of them.

Simone took the opportunity to spend 6 months with her young children to determine what was next in her career. It was during this time and with the death of close family that a new direction emerged. Simone reflected and gained a new perspective - “At the end of your life, what’s the point if you haven’t used your skills to the best of your ability to do something in the world.” She initially considered high school art teaching but after a discussion with Swinburne became a sessional teacher with the University.

While juggling teaching, running her own design business and raising her children an opportunity to undertake a PhD arose setting her on a new career course in academia. She went onto coordinating the department and the honours and masters programs, but has also:

  • Led two writing workshops for academics and ECRs called‘Hit Submit’ and ‘Draft, Don’t Drift’ promoting a positive research culture and raising publication rates.
  • Led a team of honours students in fire warning safety designs resulting in 3 patents.
  • Led several industry funded co-design research projects partenering with Melbourne Fire Brigade and and Governement Departments
  • Visited Helsinki, on request of the Dean, to learn from world leaders in multidisciplinary teaching and learning and embed this model at Swinburne.
  • Established the Swinburne Design Factory to bring together students across design, engineering, business IT and psychology to work on blue sky problems identified and funded by industry.
  • Led a new masters course in co-design and inclusive design principles.
  • Awarded university-wide outstanding teacher recognition with a Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award (Higher Education) and an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Citation for her innovative use of problem-based learning.

Simone’s extensive industry experience has seen her successfully attract new collaborations and funding. She continually explores novel ways to teach and create opportunities for her students – including running design studios for students to engage with industry on real world problems. Seeing her students succeed is what drives Simone.