Dr Christian Tietz is a Senior Lecturer in the Industrial Design program in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of New South Wales.
Dr Tietz’ recognised expertise and research interests are in the field of Design and Context. In particular the influence of the environment on user behaviour and product performance, exploring the social impact products have on lives and therefore society.
He has investigated the role of data in telling a story about the user and their intricate and often surprising daily regimes. He is curious about the way things can reveal a story about their use and place in the world and how this narrative can reflect our perception of things and the ways in which we relate to them. This pertains to the personal, communal and political dimension of products.
Dr Tietz’ research has pioneered the introduction of Industrial Design perspectives into Indigenous Environmental Health in Australia. Through over 20 years of professional design practice and his long- standing academic experience, he examined in detail numerous domestic fixtures and appliances (f.e. light fittings, door furniture, washing machines, fridges, stoves, kitchen design, cupboards, taps, shower roses and amenity blocks), and their impact on sustainable social change.
His book Health Hardware Design documents the approach to this work and the methodology and underlying principles.
His research applied innovative design methods and principles to complex and ill-defined health and environmental problems in remote cross-cultural settings. This shifted the perspective and reframed an existing problem in a new context, allowing for a wider investigation of contributing issues, leading to a solution that required a change in administration and policy. Previously the users were blamed for the frequent product failure and his work exonerated these under-privileged users and helped dismantle existing entrenched stereotypical views about them. This demonstrated that it was not a user centered cultural issue.
It highlighted that however the actual problem was indeed of a socio-cultural nature, but located instead in the administrative and policy domains, which did not have the operational means to assess the situation on the ground and were acting without hard evidence, based on anecdotal hearsay and false assumptions. Hence his design led approach made a contribution to the understanding of a product’s sphere of influence and the effects this can have on the users and those administrating them. His approach is therefore not only suitable for hard to reach locations with a diverse user group, but is also suitable to reveal more about the role of objects in ordinary domestic settings.
His unique and critically important body of work is included in the three editions of the National Indigenous Housing Guide published by the Australian Federal Government and its current international iteration Housing for Health - The Guide. Both aim to support sustainable community development and reference four of Dr Tietz’ reports, the second highest listing by a single author.
In collaboration with co-authors from various organisations and disciplines he produced publications and exhibitions and has created a deep pool of professional, industry and academic peers and expertise to pursue effective multi partner research (e.g. with medical doctors, sociologists, architects, engineers, anthropologists, health workers, database specialists, environmental health inspectors, housing managers, designers, trades and local Indigenous community members).
His design research contribution to trans-disciplinary community development for sustainable wellbeing and health has been recognised nationally and internationally;
• Citation from University of Technology Sydney for the 2012 UTS Human Rights Award for ‘sustained
commitment to improving the standard of Indigenous Australian environmental health through his innovative designs of health hardware’
• The 2011 UN World Habitat Award for social impact of his work on a global stage.
• The Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012 in the Australian Pavilion’s Healthabitat Exhibit.
• Leadership in Sustainability Prize, Australian Institute of Architects, 2011
• Australian Institute of Architects (NSW) Special Jury Prize, 2008
• International Union of Architects (UIA) Vassils Sgoutas Prize, Italy, 2008
• Public Health Association of Australia, Impact Award, for the public health project with the greatest
impact on public health 2004.
• The Improving Nutrition design research project became the specified Design Standard for the Indigenous
Housing Association of the Northern Territory (IHANT), resulting in hundreds of his kitchens being installed into community housing.
As the National R&D Manager for Healthabitat (2006-11), he presented twice yearly at the Australian Federal Government’s A$21m, Fixing House for Better Health Program to industry, professionals, academics and State and Federal Government ministerial advisers. In this position he obtained $AUD320,000 in research funding for Manger Initiated Projects.
As Senior Lecturer and as previous Academic Course Advisor for Honours, Dr Tietz has significant academic, teaching, student supervision, administrative and policy experience. He has taught under- and post-graduate as well as trans-disciplinary post-graduates at various universities, changed and developed the Academic Curriculum, wrote new courses, selected external Honours examiners, re-organised the supervisor allocation process, administered the Honours awards and rewrote the School Honours Policy.
For his successful implementation of student engagement with Indigenous communities he was awarded the $AUD14,500 Learning and Teaching Action Plan grant. He used this grant to introduce into the curriculum a four- day overnight field research component. These project based learning experiences were highly regarded by the students, some describing them as their peak learning experience at University. Student patents and student finalists in the prestigious Dyson International Student Design Awards reflect this. Due to his successful engagement he was twice nominated for the UWS Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Engagement Award.
Dr Tietz has held leadership positions in academia and in the community
• Elected UWS School Staffing Group, member, conducting academic workload negotiations.
• Enterprise Committee, member, evaluating proposals for School investment and marketing.
• WideVision Graduation Exhibition Director, staged in the prestigious historic Customs House, Sydney Harbour, 2007 and 2008, (the venue where the value of new products was first determined by Crown
taxation agents). The event was promoted to 2m audited weekly viewers.
• WideVision Graduation Exhibition Director, Darling Harbour in 2012 and 2013
• President, Director and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of a Not for Profit Organisation with over $6 m in ensured assets from 1995 -2010.
He is an editor of the award winning Industrial Design Educators Network journal (Australian Book Design Award 2014), Scientific committee member of the G20 Youth Forum and peer reviewer of highly regarded international academic journals: Design Studies and Design Principles & Practices. He was nominated for the Design Research Society Council Elections in 2015.
Dr Tietz has been invited repeatedly as an external assessor for graduation projects at other universities and as a guest lecturer at academic and design industry events. The recent 25 year celebration at the University of Technology Sydney showcased Dr Tietz as one of a select few exemplary alumni in their central foyer commemoration exhibition.
While still a student, Christian took a year of from his studies to design, manufacture, distribute and successfully sell 13,000 units of his first commercial design the Croc-Top an innovative articulated novelty hat. He was a founding member, director and chairman of Argo, the first co-operative design venture in Sydney. In this collaborative co-working space he continued his design work for Indigenous communities, which began with his major project in his undergraduate studies. He later founded his own consultancy Designlab, which he operated for 20 years designing products for business and government clients while teaching concurrently.
UTS 2012 Human Rights Award for Reconciliation