Thursday, 12 April 2012

Telecom telephone - Designed in Australia.

John Westwood Design Associates was a major industrial design studio in Melbourne in the 1980's. Principle John Westwood had graduated from the Gordon Institute industrial design program and worked at the Philips design studio in Clayton in the 1970s. John left Phillips and worked briefly with Robert Pataki in the consultancy Pataki Westoood.

John Westwood Design Associates began in the early 1980s with John establishing a studio at his home in Great Western Drive in Vermont South. I first met John in 1984 when he was my rendering lecturer at RMIT. I was fortunate to be John's first employee as his business expanded in the mid 1980s.

Telecom Commander telephone designed in Australia by John Westwood Design Associates. 1988

Securing the Telecom IKTS project in 1988 provided JWDA with an opportunity to expand and was a highly successful project for the company. Telecom Australia was one of the largest organisations in Australia at the time and a world leader in telecomunications research and development.

Mario Matkovich, Jack Magree and Ross Williams were critical members of the team on this project and I remember well the techniques and skills of the time which was well before CAD techniques. I purchased two handsets this week for my collection and the prominent keypad had particular memories for me as I did the artwork all those years ago. The artwork for each keypad layout was done as a paste up on illustration board with a blue pencil and typeset galleys which had to cut out with a scalpel and positioned manually. No Adobe illustrator with layers then.

Telecom telephone designed by industrial designers John Westwood, Mario Matkovich, Jack Magree and Ross Williams. 

Australian designed telecom commander telephone. 1988

Details of volume control, speaker and radius profile.

The keypad was very innovative and low cost with silicon cast lenses designed to bring the surface mounted LED's glow to the button surface. This approach had never been used before this project.

A house at 47 Great Western Drive in Vermont South was the original studio of Victorian industrial design consultancy John Westood Design Associates.

Industrial design consultancy John Westwood Design Associates advertisement in the Design World Directory of Design Services. Design World magazine 1987.


  1. Hi Ian, was this one of the first push button phones coming from the old dial style phones from that era?

  2. No. Telecom had electromechanical push buttons in the late seventies on STC phones. The touchphone designed by David Atkins was an early digital pcb keyboard and the handset is from that project in 1984/5. David was working on it when he taught me at RMIT.