A professional resource for the design curious

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

Vale 2016: The Creative Minds We Lost

We pay tribute to the design icons who passed away in 2016.

  • Zaha Hadid.

  • Alastair Swayn.

  • Robert Foster. Photo: Anthony Browell

  • Peter Corrigan.

If you ask just about anyone how their year has been, they’ll most likely tell you that it’s been a tumultuous 12-months filled with both dizzying highs crushing lows.

This is evidenced of course by great creative minds our industry suffered the loss of throughout the year. And though they are no longer with us, their contribution and philosophy to design will sustain their memory for generations to come.


Zaha Hadid.

Brazen, highly experimental, impactful and inspirational – Zaha Hadid regularly ventured where few would dare. Earlier this year she was the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal in its 180 year history. She was the first woman to win the Pritzker prize in 2004, placing her amongst the company of artistic visionaries like Gehry and Utzon.

Despite some controversies surrounding construction, Hadid’s designs have captured the imagination of people the world over. Often featuring undulating folds, feminine bows and mind-bending curvatures – her life’s work is made up of a collection of ambitious, emotive and future-focused projects.


Alastair Swayn.

Alastair Swayn – Professor of Architecture at the University of Canberra; Director of Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Pty Ltd Architects (DJAS); inaugural ACT Government Architect – will be chiefly remembered by loved ones and Canberra’s public equally for his unending commitment to community interest.

Born in Scotland and travelled widely in Europe, Canada and South Africa, Sawyn arrived in Australia in 1973 and joined DJAS in Canberra, 1979. Becoming Director in 1981, Swayn helped build DJAS into one of the most illustrious award-winning firms in the country’s history. Having been duly lauded with Canberra Medallions from the Australian Institute of Architects for an incredibly diverse portfolio, Swayn has left us with an unbelievable design legacy which includes the Brindabella Business Park at Canberra Airport, the Australian Institute of Sports Visitors Centre, Grandstand and Swimming Hall, the CSIRO Discovery Centre, Lake Ginninderra College, Bonython Primary and the offices of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, among many more.

As a pioneer of sustainable design in Australia, Swayn was appointed to the post of Australia’s first Government Architect. Having made a beyond-meaningful contribution to the urban design of the City Centre and its people, Swayn’s signature care for an architectural aesthetic that is humble and refined speaks so much to the Australian romantic spirit that is down-to-earth but always stargazing.


Robert Foster.

An inspired silversmith and manufacturer, Robert Foster is the Australian designer who made ‘that jug’. Created in 1994, as part of a contract to produce the fittings for a Canberra restaurant, three jugs were made initially. “All slightly different – partly pressed, partly hammered, formed by hand,” Foster told Indesign in an interview published in 2011, covering the designer’s remarkable career as part of our design luminaries series.

Foster’s fundamental objective in his work was to “to create an energy in the object, to give it some sort of life or kinetic [quality]. A lot of the objects that I’ve made teeter a bit because I like them to have movement and action.”

“I’ve always been a do-it-yourself person, so I’m involved very much through the whole process, from the beginning right through to the end. It’s hard to break the habit of thinking that you can make everything, that nothing’s impossible.”


Peter Corrigan.

Peter Corrigan worked as an architect and theatre designer from the early 1960s, and from 1974 with his collaborator and life partner Maggie Edmond. Their partnership saw through a succession of major projects, each with the intensity of a last design, and often bringing storms of controversy. Corrigan’s maxim for his many students was simple. As Vivian Mitsogianni has written, it was: lead a life of integrity.

For students and architects, the greatest compliment he could pay anyone was to say they had “a commitment to architecture”. He supported younger musicians, artists, fashion designers, as well as mentoring a generation of architecture students: “these kids need support”.

Unlike so many Australian architects, who tended to see architecture generated in some overseas metropolis as a dependable standard of excellence, he saw such “centres” as contested and unstable environments. He placed architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn in what was to us an unfamiliar context of American cultural anxiety. Correspondingly, he totally rejected the Australian cultural cringe.

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed