The Design Institute of Australia (DIA) Victoria Tasmania Branch elected a new Executive team and three new Councillors at the Annual General Meeting held on 27 August 2014 at the DIA Design Gallery in Melbourne. Along with eight existing councillors and an Events and Marketing team, they make up a vibrant, professional and diverse leadership team for 2014-2015.


Claire Beale MDIA

  • President, National Director & Textile Design Practice Group Coordinator
  • T: 0402 352 995 E: [email protected]
  • Claire is a textile designer and lecturer in the School of Fashion & Textiles at RMIT University. She has a postgraduate qualification in Tertiary Teaching and Learning (RMIT), Bachelor Degrees in Fine Art (Hons.) (University of Melbourne) and Textile Design (RMIT), and is currently undertaking a practice based PhD exploring conversation & creative practice in textile design.Claire’s experience in the fashion and textile industries includes commercial and bespoke design services, trend forecasting, visual merchandising, marketing, product development and retail operations.

Valerie Mack MDIA

  • Vice President, National Councillor & Commercial Interiors Practice Group Coordinator
  • T: 0411 018 330 E: [email protected]
  • Valerie is an interior designer with over 20 years experience designing for the hospitality & commercial sectors. As Managing Director at international interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates, she leads a studio of 70 designers on projects across Australia & Asia. Valerie has been on the Victoria Tasmania Council for 4 years and a National Councillor for 3 years. Committed to supporting emerging designers, she has lectured at RMIT and continues to be involved in the DIA Graduate of the Year Awards. Valerie’s continuing DIA role will be advocating for continuing professional development for Commercial Interior designers, including collaboration with the GBCA. 

Michael Chijoff MDIA

  • Treasurer & Industrial Design Practice Group Coordinator
  • T: 0425 803 616 E: [email protected]
  • Mike is the founder of industrial design consultancy Chijoff+Co. He has extensive experience in product design and development, design education, production, supply chain and logistics. Mike is a strong believer in collaboration and works with clients, staff, suppliers and networks to create new thinking across a variety of industries.  He has been awarded local and international awards and is actively engaged in promoting design. In short, Mike loves to build stuff, figure it out and make it work.

Dominic Russo FDIA

  • Immediate Past President & National Councillor
  • T: 0417 301 664 E: [email protected]
  • Dominic is a graduate of Industrial Design at RMIT University and co-founder of Diadem, a multi-disciplined design and project management business that specialises in corporate identity and branding. He works collaboratively with artists, architects, interior designers and graphic designers. Dominic has over 20 years of industry experience across a range of disciplines including exhibition design, furniture design and product design.     

James Harper FDIA

  • National President & National Councillor
  • T: 0407 991 773 E: [email protected]
  • James has a Bachelor of Architecture degree and is Director of BrookingHarper, a specialist retail design company with clients including Omega, Apple Computer and Mercedes Benz.A member of the DIA since 1995, James represented the DIA on Advisory Panels for Monash Interior Architecture, Colourways, Designex and the Australian Interior Design Awards. James founded the highly successful Top 10x10 forum series in 2006.

New Councillors

Luca Abate MDIA

  • Industrial Design Liaison
  • T: 0408 361 765 E: [email protected]
  • Luca is an industrial designer at award winning video technology company Blackmagic Design. He previously worked as a senior design consultant with Charlwood Design developing products for a diverse range of clients and industries including medical, homewares and electronics. A multifaceted designer, his career has spanned business development, marketing as well as a product design role with the Ford Motor Company. He has also worked as a lecturer in the Industrial Design program at RMIT.

Martin Lilford MDIA

  • Exhibition & Furniture Design Liaison
  • T: 0418 577 464 E: [email protected]
  • Martin is an Industrial Designer and has worked in the area of Exhibition Design for more than 20 years. He is the principal designer at Lilford Smith Design, focused on the design and production of cultural and corporate exhibitions, interpretive displays and installations. Martin has worked on major exhibition projects with the Melbourne Museum, the British Museum, Scienceworks and the Jewish Holocaust Centre, along with a range of government departments and corporate clients. He has worked in exhibitions, furniture, packaging and machine design disciplines.

Danielle Scandrett MDIA

  • Interior Decoration Practice Group Coordinator
  • T: 0411 722 708 E: [email protected]
  • After graduating from RMIT in 2004, Danielle founded her boutique interior decoration and design company Danielle Scandrett Interiors. Danielle has worked on many and varied high end projects and was invited to submit to the internationally published Andrew Martin Interior Design Review. In 2011, she was selected as a Finalist in the Melbourne Design Awards and is a regular contributor to Home Design Magazine.

Images: DIA