Tag Tell Tails - Clandestine Design Group's client, Ceres Tag, celebrate their successful ear tag trial

 Ceres Tag CEO, David Smith onsite at CSIRO Research Cattle Station with next gen smart tag.

Ceres Tag CEO, David Smith onsite at CSIRO Research Cattle Station with next gen smart tag.

Clandestine Design Group is currently involved in an exciting R&D project, with Ceres Tag, designing next generation smart ear tags for cattle, a project close to Design Director Neil Davidson’s heart -particularly with his country upbringing on a cattle farm.

David Smith, CEO of Ceres Tag, who is the perfect combination of entrepreneur and agricultural innovator, recognised the need for a device that blends the need for farmers to track their herd with the latest technology.

David asked CDG to be part of a collaboration between Ceres Tag, CSIRO and their technology arm, Data61.

Although mid Research and Development cycle, the tags reached the point where they needed to be trialled. This very successful trial happened this week on 100 cattle at a CSIRO's Lansdown Research Station near Townsville, Queensland.

Mel-Matthews -smart-ear-tag-applicator.jpg

The results were very encouraging with the tags and the applicator working well, for both farmer and beast with very little reaction and discomfort shown from the cattle.

Farmers are going to benefit hugely from this device saving them time and monitoring and tracking stock whilst also being notified. Being able to see unusual movements when their cattle are sick or giving birth and need urgent assistance.


Read more and watch their Video about the trial process and the CSIRO’s onboard technology and data gathering process to manage animal herds by clicking the below links:

Cerest Tag CSIRO New Release

CSIRO Ceres Tag Video

Ceres Tag Website

images; courtesy of and thanks to CSIRO

MAXTRAX continues their winning streak in Las Vegas

Clandestine Design Group client and mates at MAXTRAX continued their winning streak receiving an another two SEMA Global Media and Product awards at the biggest US and possibly global trade shows for vehicle and aftermarket manufacturers.

This year the team received awards for the MAXTRAX Winch Ring and MAXTRAX Hitch , both distinct steps away from their recovery board beginnings to a new direction, being leaders in the recovery board market.

 MAXTRAX’s two products were picked for awards out of 3000 others launched at SEMA 2018

MAXTRAX’s two products were picked for awards out of 3000 others launched at SEMA 2018

MAXTRAX are known for being category creators, its because of customers having a negative experience when the need to recover their vehicles, they knew they had to bring own Winch Ring and Hitch to market.

This makes their win at SEMA particularly sweet because it reconfirms their dominance in the recovery market.

 The MAXTRAX Winch Ring received a highly contested SEMA Global Media and Product Award

The MAXTRAX Winch Ring received a highly contested SEMA Global Media and Product Award

This year CDG’s Design Director Neil Davidson attended SEMA with the team from MAXTRAX.

SEMA Provided the perfect place to launch the two new products the MAXTRAX Winch Ring and MAXTRAX Hitch.

 MAXTRAX Hitch launched at SEMA 2018 and won the SEMA Global Media and Product Award

MAXTRAX Hitch launched at SEMA 2018 and won the SEMA Global Media and Product Award

This recent win took the total award won by MAXTRAX to seven awards in the same category, a testament to the quality and longevity of their product range in the off-road recovery market for nearly 13 years.

Advanced QLD Design expertise in demand internationally

Clandestine Design Group (CDG), as implied in the name, prefer to operate with a level of discretion, but a busy year collaborating with Queensland entrepreneurs keeps pushing them into the limelight.

Firstly at the Good Design Awards back in May winning awards across multiple categories including the Audeara A-01 Headphones with a 2018 Good Design Award in the tough Product Design, Consumer Electronics Category. The Good Design Awards Jury commented - there are some great aspects to this design with loads of clever embedded technology. The sound quality is amazing and immersive.


Secondly, CDG’s collaboration with the hardworking team from Field Orthopaedics Micro Screw Kit received a well-deserved accolade, taking out the Gold Award for Product Design, Medical and Scientific, a highly competitive category.


The design success continued with the MAXTRAX Xtreme winning a Gold Good Design Award in the Product Design Sport and Lifestyle category. A long-awaited endorsement for the team who created the 4WD recovery board category.


The team were the most the most successful Queensland design consultancy giving their interstate competitors a run for their money.

On the awards night the team also humbled and honoured to receive an independent accolade from the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), Australia's design industry body.

The DIA Award is a special acknowledgement to recognise an Australian professional designer, design team or design company who made a significant impact in the Australian Good Design Awards over the year.


Based on this success, CDG’s Design Director - Neil Davidson, has been recently invited by the Good Design Awards Australia to perform the privileged role of judge at Korean Good Design Selection Awards, the peak industry event in Seoul.

Neil is looking forward to, in late October, attending the event, including the opening ceremony.

“Its a great honour to be the first Queensland consultancy to be invited to judge the awards.”

“I am very excited about about attending Good Design Selection Awards for the first time and experiencing first hand their design culture.

“I am very interested in what types of entries that I’ll be judging in the Product and Visual Design section of the awards,” said Neil.

The Good Design Selection Awards are both a design and business event, hosted by both the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy; and the Korea Institute of Design Promotion.

Korean Good Design Mark.jpg

FUEL - lighting fires in the right places

 L to R: Felicity Davidson, Alex French and Sara Pontopiddan show off their orange FUEL flame pins

L to R: Felicity Davidson, Alex French and Sara Pontopiddan show off their orange FUEL flame pins

Last week the Clandestine Design Group team women deployed early to attend a breakfast in the city, hosted by FUEL a mentoring program for teenage girls.

The breakfast showcased the program, talked about future of the program, their need for corporate support particularly for a work experience program and two Q+A panels.

The Q+A panels where made up of members from the education industry and professional roles and high-school students, made up vastly different panellists at the opposite ends of their careers.

The students were trying to formulate a firm concept of what a university or tertiary course entails and what you do each day in different career paths. The panellists had some strong insights into the ups and downs from their own careers. Including women in senior management who have good strategies to deal with co workers questioning their ability to do their role.

The breakfast was a useful point of reflection for ALL attendees and to either reignite the flame for their chosen career path or getting people to question it - if it doesn’t.

FUEL acknowledges that every girl has a fire in their belly, they help fan that flame.

They challenge how they think, what they strive for, and why they want it, through hands-on workshops, interactive talks and one-on-one mentoring sessions.

Back in August our Senior Designer Sara Potopiddan gave up her Sunday to show the potential future designers the light and ignite their interest in a future career path.

The event gave budding designers a chance to understand more about what the day-to-day working of Industrial Design and aptly named A Designer Life.

The all day event connected the budding designers to women working across Fashion, Digital, Architecture, Product, Film, Interior, Photography, Advertising and Jewellery design.

Sara did a great job representing the CDG team and Industrial Design as a chosen career. She was involved in an intense 90 minute speed networking, round-table session and hosted a workshop to dive into some real-world application of design skills and thinking.

Today it was the teams turn to be inspired by both those in industry and young Generation Z women, attacking their career path in an unrelenting positive outlook even though their careers and jobs path are unknown.

Get involved in the FUEL Program and you might have a similar experience from attending the events as the CDG women did. And you might have the same experience of in the process of helping the next generation that you reignite your own career flame.

Good Design Awards wrap up


Clandestine Design Group had to squeeze some extra items in their carry on luggage after a massive night at the Good Design Awards recently taking home a total of three design ticks and the nod from the industry body the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). 

This accolade is particularly sweet - acknowledging the entire team - the DIA recognised an Australian professional designer, design team or design company who has made a significant impact in the Australian Good Design Awards over the year. To put this into context Breville Australia won the corporate equivalent, for their team and 160 of them took to the stage to accept the award. Goes to show being a relentless and uncompromising force pays off regardless of how big the team is.

Our first win of the evening was for the Audeara A-01 Headphones with a 2018 Good Design Award in the tough Product Design, Consumer Electronics Category. The Good Design Awards Jury commented - there are some great aspects to this design with loads of clever embedded technology. The sound quality is amazing and immersive. Overall, a good product that deserves to be recognised.

The hardworking team from Field Orthopaedics Micro Screw Kit received a well-deserved accolade, taking out the Gold Award for Product Design, Medical and Scientific a highly competitive category.

The success continued with the MAXTRAX Xtreme winning a Gold Good Design Award in the Product Design Sport and Lifestyle category. A long-awaited endorsement for the team who created the recovery board category.

Our very talented junior designer Alexandra French also received a Gold Award Next Generation Category for her Capricorn Tent resulting from the AUXILIARY Design School BCF project. AUXILIARY also picked up a GDA in the Digital Design Category. These are amazing outcomes and opportunities AUXILIARY provides for the next generations of industrial designers would not be possible! 

The team has more than enough reason to celebrate and for Senior Designer Sara Pontoppidan there was an extra reason - celebrating her Norwegian heritage. So Sara participated in a fortuitously timed 17 May, ‘Norway Day’ Parade that finished at the Opera House. A perfect way to bring the two worlds together.

The Good Design Awards were a great opportunity for the team to catch-up socially with our clients and industry colleagues. 

It was a great to acknowledge design icons at the 60 year celebration of the awards. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jan Utzon (son of Jørn), who designed the Sydney Opera House, presenting Good Design Award of the Year.

The team certainly made the most of beautiful and sprawling after party held over three levels, of the Opera House for more than 1000 attendees. Cutting a few moves on the dance floor and kicking on until the wee hours in a Whisky Bar at The Rocks. The next day the team was pinching themselves about whether that the night had actually happened, it was almost too good to be true!

CDG puts forward five exciting entries into their first Good Design Awards

 Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

The Good Design Awards (GDAs) are a cause to dust off the extra special outfit, add a touch of bling and head to the big gala celebration at the Opera House for their diamond anniversary.

Its an apt milestone to celebrate in their 60th year and we all know that diamonds are formed with pressure. Designers from all industries are familiar with the concept that the combination of time and pressure can too produce a great design outcome. 

The GDA has a reputation for being one of the most rigorous and diligent design awards programs in the world. 
The judging panel of design industry heavyweights, this year are making the tough decisions across 28 categories and hundreds of local and international and over over the lifetime of the awards there have been ten of thousands of entries.

Clandestine Design Group Design Director Neil Davidson, said that although it wasn’t his first time entering the GDAs, but its the first year CDG has entered projects into the awards.

“Its pretty exciting to do so when it such a big year for the GDAs.

“We hope to have our fingers crossed, for good news in all five categories that we’ve entered, at the Gala event at the Opera House.”

The entries are across different categories including the:

  • ­‘tough as nails’, MAXTRAX Xtreme in ‘Sport and Lifestyle’, 
  • ­beautiful and functional, Inspire Desk Organiser in ‘Homewares and Organisation’, 
  • ­tiny and groundbreaking, Field Orthopaedics Micro Screw Kit in ‘Medical Technology’ and the
  • ­category creating , Audeara A-01 Headphones are both the ‘Consumer Electronics and ‘Packaging Design’ categories. 

The diamond year of celebration made us take stock of some of the things that have happened over the decades the GDA have been running.

It began in 1958 funded by the Commonwealth Government after the Industrial Design Council of Australia (IDCA) is formally by a group of design and industry professionals.

In 1967 there is a royal connection to the awards, with the introduction of the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design, presented personally by His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Over the year the awards introduced life-changing icons of design including the first Cochlear implant in 2000 and Marc Newson’s Economy Class Seat for the Qantas A380 taking out the 2009 Australian International Design Award of the Year.

There has been a touch of celebrity over the years with Wil Anderson hosting in 2006, comedians Hamish and Andy doing the same in 2007and; in 2012 the Design Award of the Year going to the Deepsea Challenger built in Australia by Hollywood Director James Cameron and Ron Allum.

Back in 1979 the awards were presented by TV celebrity Ita Buttrose and were televised on the ABC with an audience of more than four million. Last year this came full circle with a series premiering called ‘Australia by Design Innovation’ with Dr. Gien from GDA co-hosting the show with fellow Judges, Tim Horton and Terri Winter.

There are some exciting things happening at the awards in the design industry, CDG can’t wait to see what the next 60 years brings - they are hoping that their own ‘design diamonds’ get their place in the history books at the Gala event in May.

2017 Wrap up


The team at Clandestine Design Group had a massive 2017 and took some well-deserved weeks off before kicking things off again in 2018. The exciting part for our design industry is that the need and interest in industrial design services just keeps going on an upwards trajectory and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. Gone are the days of knocking on every door and once open needing to educate clients about what industrial design is and the value it can bring!

It’s encouraging to see that the markets maturity and interest in design is increasing and the pie of potential work is getting bigger. From our perspective 2017 has allowed us to develop our team and engagement models to the perfect size and balance of skills-sets. These attributes allow us to work with both ends of the client spectrum from some of Australia’s largest organisations with design led innovation and business transformation projects down to small businesses and start-ups, guiding them on their journey to new product development success. 

We have been fortunate enough to work with some local innovation incubators and even on some major projects that benefit the regional parts of the country. Given our Design Director Neil Davidson’s upbringing in the Darling Downs he understands that much-needed process improvements can reduce the back-breaking demands on our primary producers - so these projects have been both valuable to Australian Agri-tech and important personally.

Much of what we work on is covert and cannot be shared until commercially released however some project in the public domain we can review from the last year cover industries including food production, four-wheel driving accessories and med tech consumer electronics. From an innovation management perspective it is good to see that these highlighted projects cover Extend and Defend market share, New to Us and New to World market innovation outcomes. It is also nice to see that these profile projects are all Queensland based success stories. 

1. MAXTRAX’s Mk3 SEMA win

In November 2017 the MAXTRAX team, won three SEMA Global Media Product Awards, at the biggest US and possible global trade shows for vehicle and aftermarket manufacturers. This is an amazing result and it shows that the quality and design of the MAXTRAX stood out against the more than 3000 trade competitors who all vied for only 16 award categories.

SEMA provided the perfect place to launch three new products of the MAXTRAX portfolio to a global audience. The Mini and Jack Base were developed outside of CDG however the new Mk3 version has been collaboratively developed by MAXTRAX and CDG to further extend and defend their market position. Their strong position was established by the category creating Mk1 and expanded on and solidified by the hugely successful current Mk2 product. 

The Mini is perfect for the small SUV, Quad or SxS markets in off road applications however it has proven in demand for use by car owners trying to get their cars out of snowed in parks. The Jack Base is a simple and smart product addition to the product family. Built on the Mini product base its underside has been cored out to create a stable weight spreading structural platform to place a Bottle of High Lift Jack in soft sand or mud conditions. Its top surface possesses the familiar crocodile back teeth array that all MAXTRAX recovery boards possess and can be used just as effectively. The Mk3 builds on the Mk2 platform product with an upgrade that is particularly noticeable. New metal alloy teeth significantly improving the products durability and longevity for the most extreme users. 

The recent win at SEMA takes the total awards won by MAXTRAX to five as it took out the similar categories for the MAXTRAX Mk2 back in 2010, as only a five year old business at the time. This shows that the quality of the products pumped out by the team are still of a high quality - no compromises, as owner Brad McCarthy says…‘not when your life can depend on it’! 

2. Audeara’s A-01 Headphone launch 

The Audeara team had a game-changing and category creating year that makes you want to give them a round of applause and that is before the A-01s have even arrived - which they are starting to do now!

The Audeara team founded their business on the premise of improving the traditional audiologist tests reliant on expensive equipment, paper medical records and long waiting times. Their motivation to do something better saw them explore the digital space first and develop their testing software and App. They knew that they could take this further with a seamless experience including a blue tooth headphone to play the sounds in a protected ear-covering design to create the best user experience and test outcomes. 
Being a blend of medicos in the mind and musicians in their hearts, the Audeara team knew that this technology could be used to test, accommodate, adjust and customise the listening experience for the individual in the consumer electronics Headphone market. CDG worked closely together with the Audeara R&D team to produce a high quality blue-tooth, over-ear headphone excitedly now being released to market as the A-01 Headset!

Audeara team had a year of highs and more highs, including winning the QUT bluebox challenge and smashing their own subscription targets from their Kickstater pledges, in the first 24 hours. Raising over $466,305 during the entire 45 day campaign. At the end of the year the Audeara A-1s were named by the Australian Financial Review as one of the top five ‘most innovative ear technologies’ of 2017; an honour to be on list with Google and Apple products. We have been proud to see that the Audeara team have held their product quality, user experience and customer experience standards high and resisted the urge to ship non optimal product to their eager kickstarter supporters. 

The wait will soon be over and from what we have been exposed to completely worth it! Keep an eye on these guys as there is a lot more to come from them in 2018!

3. Gourmet Garden’s Drizzle range

Another highlight for 2017 was the launch in July of the Gourmet Gardens’ Drizzle range. CDG worked together with Gourmet Garden’s innovation team to develop a range of tear-able packaging and storage racks that would sit comfortably in the chilled meat section of the supermarket. This range took many years to come to fruition and Clandestine Design Group was proud to collaborate with this innovative Queensland business in the final commercialisation phases of the project. 

Bringing a concept of two-three servings of a pourable, drizzling finishing sauce which transforms grilled meat dishes. There was some complexity in developing a range of pouches that could stay upright for example - when open in a fridge door, for three days; and still successfully poor with an olive-oil like consistency over your dish.  

The design took trial and error, many different shaped pouches, development of in house prototyping techniques and equipment and many focus groups before we found the perfect packaging match for Drizzle range. Consumer feedback since launch has been phenomenal; busy cooks love the convenience of a fresher, healthier herb sauce with the simplicity of shake, pour and drizzle. 

A particularly satisfying result for the Gourmet Garden team for whom this project had been a long road to bring this to fruition. Congratulation to Jacqui Wilson-Smith and her team who in May were profiled by The Courier-Mail’s QBM supplement as one of the state’s expert innovators. Jacqui and the Gourmet Garden innovation team now enjoy the challenge applying their skills across global markets and we look forward to continued collaboration in 2018!

Amazing to reflect on this calibre of work that we did last year with our clients last year and it great to see such strong Queensland companies!

This is the first edition of our CDG News Update, we are going to get this out to you on a bi-monthly basis. Each edition is going to full of lessons learned, case studies from our clients, and some global industry insights. Forward this first update to your friends or colleagues who would like to be added to our distribution list. 

We are now back on deck for 2018! Feel free to get in touch any time to share innovation, design, technology or collaboration opportunities! We wish you a happy and prosperous 2018!  

New Studio Space

Clandestine Design Group were looking for the perfect studio space for a few months - much like anyone looking for perfect residential property it can test your patience but we were definitely rewarded for hanging in there! 

Like any property search the team had some tough requirements because we needed a private work space, a meeting space, a place where prototypes can be made discreetly using power tools and a location in Brisbane that is central for our team and our clients can get to easily. It proved hard to find something that fit the bill and we ended up looking at places were over our budget and split the team up into different offices or had nowhere to eat or even go to the bathroom. 

So Design Director Neil Davidson, kept an eye out on other spaces that might suit and as we parked nearby to inspect another location we noticed that our current space wasn’t fully used. So after some emailing back and forth we had confirmation that we could lease the space.

It took a little elbow grease by Neil and his wife Felicity and our trusted building and electrical tradies but the perfect studio space has now emerged through the clouds of dust and painting.

The industrial space is built into a heritage 100 sqm mezzanine level of what use to be an old factory  or bakery in the back of the Woolloongabba high street. According to Brisbane City Council heritage archives the blocks around our location were so busy they petitioned to have their own Post Office, that opened in 1905 and stayed in the same location for 90 years.

This combination of the location having a long history of bustling small businesses and the original features within the building like a crane gantries and exposed beams, made it a prefect studio space for CDG.In fact the space aligns with our values of being Covert, Collaborative and Creative. 

CDG designed and specified the interior fit out as well as key furniture pieces such as the 3.6m long Black Butt custom feature piece table. 

The location is Covert because it is a low-key entrance that the first time you need a secret knock to find it. The space is very conducive to being Collaborative, given the meeting table with the HD screen that can mirror our desktops. And we couldn’t cover-up our awesome timber panelling so we popped a clear Perspex board over it that is good for capturing our ideas. With all these elements it’s easy to bring the creative part into play, its perfect for design work.

The team were very lucky to literally stumble across this secret spot and we’ve been able to fit it out to meet our exact specifications. It’s great to come to our studio that we are lucky to work out of and we are happy to stay put for as long as we can!

Check out the photos showing the design, fabrication and fit out process as well as finished studio shots taken by our colleague Leon Fitzpatrick.


Team Update

Studio Demo Day - VR Experiences - L to R: Jason Smith, Angus Shaw, Alex French, Sara Pontoppidan and Felicity Davidson

In 2017 the Clandestine Design Group team had some changes in line up with those new to design and those who have already earned their stripes! This time last year we had our home based office and Rohan McEvoy and Angelina Kwan in both Junior Designer roles. Midway through the year they both headed off overseas to experience their next chapters. Ange moved to Pittsburgh in the USA to live with her husband gain work experience in the North American market. Rohan to complete his final elective Uni subjects via an exchange at DEFLT University of Technology in the Netherlands. A special shout out to Roh for being our first CDG employee for nearly two years. We were both sad and excited to see them both move on but appreciate all of the hard work they did as an essential part of the team. 

In February, news on the design grape vine was that a very talented designer may be looking for a change of location back to Brisbane after working the previous five years on incredible projects for one of Australia’s leading consultancies in Melbourne. Sara Pontoppidan and her partner where looking to return the smart State and lucky for us we were also looking for a new team member at the same time. Sara came on board as a Senior Designer. We knew Sara would be a perfect fit for the team as Neil had the honour of mentoring her as a graduate intern many years earlier when they both worked together at CMD. Sara is an uncompromising talent that works across all aspects of industrial design and engineering as well as graphic, user experience and packaging. As a proud Norwegian she often keeps us on our toes questioning the origins of our apparently perplexing Australian expressions! 

Last September we had the good fortunate of recruiting an ‘older’ newer member who worked with Design Director Neil Davidson over several years at their previous consultancy employer. Senior Designer Jason Smith is one of the most experienced and unparalleled talents in Australia, and we’re lucky to have him out here as an English expat. He powers through projects without compromising quality. 

The other two latest recruits to the CDG team in July last year were the amazing package deal Alexandra French and Angus Shaw who job share the Junior Designer roles. They each manage their own projects and bring different mix of talents to the team. Outside of work Alex likes to spend time doing an amount of exercise that would exhaust most decathletes. Angus likes to pursue his passions of golf and producing mind-blowing photo-realistic artworks. Welcome to the team officially Alex and Angus - times already flown by since you arrived.

The constant team members are of course Design Director Neil Davidson and Felicity Davidson Business and PR Manager who looks after the promotion of the business and makes sure everything else runs smoothly – including superannuation, insurance, legal liaison and the finances. 

This new CDG team is again race ready for 2018!  

Audeara Kickstarter campaign cuts through the noise

 CEO James welcomed Audeara Pledgends to the launch last Wednesday as the numbers ticked over earlier in the night and by 11.00pm reached the magic milestone of $100 064

CEO James welcomed Audeara Pledgends to the launch last Wednesday as the numbers ticked over earlier in the night and by 11.00pm reached the magic milestone of $100 064

Our client’s Audeara pumped up their entrepreneurial volume this week, with their headphone launch transmission coming through loud and clear to potential pledgers. Enough to meet their ambitious funding target of $100 000 on Kickstarter, not only comfortably but in less than 24 hours.

Brisbane based brain’s trust, Audeara are headed-up by a group of doctors and engineers to bring something unique to the headphone market. 

The seamless package brings together an App, audiologist style 8, 16 or 32 part test to calibrate their hearing and a customisable listening experience to blow your mind. If not your mind – at least bring sweet music to your eardrums. 

Audeara’s partners range from start-up accelerators, the medical industry, digital communication experts and our team overseeing product design.

The big guns of media the Australian Financial Review's technology reviewer gave the Audeara headphones a big thumbs up even after only a 45 minute prototype test in a noisy Sydney cafe. 

The curators of cool online site Boss Hunting, whose readership of 2 million young Aussie males, gave it a wrap-up that explicitly says what we are all thinking, in a way that might shock a more gentile audience. 

Although only on the market for a week, Audeara already has supporters from all walks of life including members of the Queensland Orchestra, electronic artist The Kite String Tangle, Wallabies and Queensland Reds players. 

The best feedback comes from those with partial deafness or different degrees of hearing loss, using the headphones to transform their listening experience and put them on an even playing field with users with ‘normal’ hearing. 

We are excited to see where the final Kickstarter pledge ends up at the end of the 44 days, and can’t wait to deliver on production and delivery.