How might we…


Adam Jefford

Please welcome Adam Jefford who starts as the new Manager Asia Pacific Design Library (APDL) in January 2017.

A colleague recently asked me what I’m about.  I had no easy answers as I realised I’ve spent a significant amount of my career asking the questions.  While I try to take some solace in the often mis-attributed quote about judging a man [sic] by his questions rather than his answers (Pierre-Marc-Gaston de Lévis not Voltaire) as I prepare myself for the role of Manager APDL, I again find myself with more questions than I have answers!

I’ve been involved with the APDL since its inception and I am looking forward to asking lots of How might we… questions of its cross-disciplinary team and the wider family of contributors, followers and supporters. I hope to be able to provide some answers along the way as we continue to work together to design and create real value for the greater Queensland and Asia Pacific design community.

By way of background, I’ve worked in Brisbane, Logan and Gold Coast high schools as a classroom teacher and a Head of Department; the last four years as Head of Department Creative Industries at Pimpama State Secondary College.  During this time, I’ve been the Vice-President of the Queensland Art Teacher’s Association, a member of the Education Reference Committee for The Arts Centre Gold Coast, a Regional Arts Development Fund Committee Member (specialising in Design) for the Gold Coast City Council and am currently a Peer Assessor for Arts Queensland. I have degrees in Creative Industries and Secondary Education, and a post-graduate qualification in Interactive & Visual Design.

In 2012, I was awarded the Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship. I worked in public programs and education outreach at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. I also spent some time teaching in DreamYard – a charter school in The Bronx that uses the arts, digital tools, and social justice to transform students, schools, and communities.

Shortly after I returned from the Fellowship, I was appointed as a foundation staff member and the second Head of Department at Pimpama State Secondary College – a then brand new high school on the Northern Gold Coast. The College was founded with a vision for every student to be creative, critical and independent thinkers who are reflective, intellectually curious and passionate about learning. We taught, and continue to teach to this vision through the College Wide delivery of Design Thinking.

How might we create interdisciplinary experiences in design?

The Creative Industries Faculty at the College is made up of a range of subjects that lay at the crossroads of arts, business, design and technology.  This year, our students have built apps, designed and 3D printed fashion, developed self-driving cars (not full size!), visualised and prototyped architectural interventions for the local community, created GIFs, manufactured drones, developed services for the community, published zines and built video games from scratch – just to name a few things…

These products have come from a range of subjects including Information Technology Systems, Graphics, Technology Studies, Visual Art, Industrial Technology Skills, Digital Design and Fashion and Design. In 2017, the first cohort of Year 12 students to graduate will do so with young people who have chosen to study multiple subjects knowing they are going into further study and work pathways where clusters of (design) skills will be a valuable asset.

How might we be a school that builds students up with the skills and knowledge so they can thrive in the 21st Century? 

As the College has grown from 300 students in 2013 to over 1500 students in 2017, Design Thinking has continued to play an important role in shaping the learning experiences of all of its students. In 2014, College Principal John Thornberry and I wrote about some of the experiences and approaches we developed with the support of the Asia Pacific Design Library to help better prepare our students for an unknown future.

How might we empower young people to create positive futures?

In 2015, I co-developed a project called Jump Start with Tom Allen, which was supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. We asked students in the project to engage in a Design Thinking process to respond with innovative solutions to wicked problems that they identified in the local community.

The project strongly aligned with the core research recommendations from the Foundation of Young Australians Unlimited Potential and New Work Order reports, which argue that learning enterprise skills are essential in helping young people navigate future challenges.

This year, Jump Start received a Good Design Award®, which recognised the program’s capacity to provide young Australians with the skills to thrive in the 21st Century.


How might we teach creativity?

Also in 2015, Dr Anne Harris spent time at the College documenting our innovative pedagogical approaches to developing creative skills and capacities that extend across the educational lifespan. The college’s approach to teaching creativity was heavily featured in her book, Creativity and Education (Creativity, Education and the Arts), which puts education at the heart of the debate on creativity, explores the significance of creativity for learning and teaching and development analyses and forges links between creativity and education.

How might we improve wellbeing for people dealing with hardship?

In the last half of this year, I turned my attention to increasing the College’s engagement in creating meaningful design-led student projects that develop real value for the community. Fix-Ed, again co-developed with Tom Allen, launches in 2017 as a prototype project for how schools might divert waste from landfill, teach young Australians valuable skills and improve wellbeing for people dealing with hardship.

How might we connect in the future?

I look forward to meeting all of you once I commence the role of Manager in the New Year. My email will be, however in the meantime, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter @AdamJefford or Linkedin .

Of course you can stay up to date on all the latest design news via the APDL Twitter @slqAPDL .