Acclaimed architect and designer Michael Bryce and the husband of the 25th Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, passed away last Saturday.

A principal of the international design firm, Minale Bryce design strategy, Bryce was a leader in the design establishment in Australia for over thirty years, energetically representing and promoting the interests of Design to his clients, government, business and the industry.

Australian Institute of Architects president Alice Hampson says that, “The Institute pays tribute to Mr Bryce’s outstanding contribution to design in its many forms.”

“More than anyone else, Michael Bryce recognised that architecture, urban design, environmental design, graphic design and industrial design are all aspects of a professional continuum devoted to design as an intellectual and aesthetic pursuit. More than anyone else, he promoted design professionals from the backroom to the boardroom and placed them at the forefront in the culture of political and business decision-making. He was a powerful advocate for the value of design not only with clients, but also with government, business and industry.

In 1966, the newly married architect and his barrister wife, Quentin, took the obligatory trip overseas. For two years, Bryce worked as an architectural illustrator in London, saying “it was that [experience] that shaped my change from being an architect to being a graphic designer.” Some of his work was even included in an exhibition of architectural drawings at London’s Royal Academy of Art at the time.

After commencing his own architecture practice in Brisbane in 1968, Bryce won multiple awards for graphic and environmental design, including the Institute’s own Civic Design Award (Qld), the House of the Year Award, and the President’s Award. 

As well as architectural projects and architectural illustration, producing perspectives for speculative builders and developers, he set up another company to do graphic design work and signage and gradually the graphic work won out.

“We won three or four bronze medals and the civic design award. In 1981, the year I won ‘House of the Year,’ I gave up doing buildings. How wacky is that?,” he once said.

“Yet his patriotic commitment to Australian sport never diminished, as he designed logos for the Wallabies rugby union team, the Dolphins swimming team, the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, and Sydney’s 2000 Olympic bid. This culminated in his appointment as principal design adviser to the 2000 Sydney Games.”

“Mr Bryce was the inaugural patron of Good Design Australia as well as serving as patron of the Australian Design Alliance (AdA). He was awarded Australia’s highest design accolade, the Australian Design Prize, in September 2020,” she says.

 As well as being an exemplary design practitioner, Bryce, who was 82, was also a great supporter of the arts more broadly. He served as a board member and patron for a wide range of public, private and community organisations.

Bryce’s distinguished contributions to the community included his service with the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve, for which he was awarded the Air Efficiency Award (AE) in 1970. He was made a Knight of Justice in the Order of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ) and, in 2006, a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). He was also awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Queensland and Canberra.

“He once noted that ‘Architecture is the fulcrum of our national design identity and this highly visible art form leads the way in so many other design endeavours, from furniture design, automotive design and urban design through interior, graphic and fashion design’.

“Our thoughts at this time are with his wife, Australia’s former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce, his five children, his grandchildren, his wider family, and his extensive network of colleagues, friends and admirers,” says Hampson.