Professor Reside Oya Demirbilek

My Expertise

Industrial Design, Inclusive and accessible Design, Universal Design, Design for Old Age, Co-design and Participatory Design methods, Design Research Methods, Design & Emotion, Emapthy, Product Semantics & Design Language.


Fields of Research (FoR)

Industrial and product design, Design, Interaction and experience design, Ergonomics design, Design practice and methods, Other built environment and design

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Oya is a Professor of Industrial Design at UNSW, passionate about enhancing life through design, particularly for an aging population. Her expertise in design research methods, universal design, accessible and inclusive design, and empathy is reflected in her teaching methods that enable students to articulate their own design process and personal values.

At UNSW, Oya has held various leadership positions, including Associate Dean of Education...view more

Oya is a Professor of Industrial Design at UNSW, passionate about enhancing life through design, particularly for an aging population. Her expertise in design research methods, universal design, accessible and inclusive design, and empathy is reflected in her teaching methods that enable students to articulate their own design process and personal values.

At UNSW, Oya has held various leadership positions, including Associate Dean of Education at the Built Environment from 2013-17, Discipline Director for Industrial Design from 2006-09, and Program Director for the Master of Industrial Design and the Master of Science (Industrial Design) Postgraduate Coursework Programs 2002-05. She also led the development and delivery of the first Built Environment Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Re-Enchanting the City, which received top rankings for career advancement in Urban Design, Landscape Design, and Interior Design among similar MOOCs. The course has since been converted to a General Elective course at UNSW and has reached a wider audience.

Oya has extensive teaching and research experience, along with her jewellery design work and a European perspective. Her two completed PhD studies on designing for aging and involving older people early in the design process showcase her dedication to improving people's lives through design.

My Grants

Evidence-based applied research and usability testing to inform the design of future CPAP products. Arts, Design and Architecture (ADA) Faculty Research Grants Scheme, 2023. (Demirbilek O.) $7,004.

Learning and Teaching Digital Uplift Innovation Grants, 2018, (Demirbilek O.) $10,000.

Breville Product Semantics Project, Industry Contract Research, 2018, (Demirbilek O., Mintzes, A., Sunstrum, F.), $16,523.

Breville Product Semantics Project Pilot, Industry Contract Research, 2018 (Demirbilek O., Mintzes, A.) $18,002.

Digital Future Lab – Digital Fabrication for Prototyping in Architecture and Product Design: 5-axis CNC mill, Collaborative robot arm, electronics workstations, 2015, (Matthias H., Demirbilek O., Russell L., Ward S., Park M., Matthias I., Rosenberg E., Araullo R., Hespanhol L., Dunn K., Velonaki M., Tschaut F., Furber B., Wimbourne M.), $443,929. (application submitted, which prompted the faculty to purchase other machines and redirect the funds to the BE Design Lab Director).

Design and architecture practice research: contemporary PhD (DAP_r), 2015, Lead by the Dean of the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT, and where O’Callaghan, J. and Demirbilek, O. are representing UNSW. OLT Innovation and Development grant, $497,000. Link to all DAP_r Partners:

Novel pressure sensing surface system. 2014. UNSW Major Research Equipment & Infrastructure Scheme. ( Bridge, C.E.; Judd, B., Lowe, R.; Demirbilek, O. R., Ward, S., Sweatman, P., Davey, S., and Mintzes, A.), $225,000.

Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure Initiative, 2013 (MREII 2014) Digital Fabrication for the Construction Industry to Deliver Digital Architecture in Australia. (Haeusler, H., Demirbilek, O., Lowe, R., Ward, S., and Park, M.), not submitted but transferred to an internal BE Faculty Grant, $210,533.

Livable bathrooms for older people: designing out dependence in activities of daily living. 2012. ARC Linkage Grant - Partner: Caroma. (Bridge, C.E.; Judd, B., Lowe, R.; Demirbilek, O. R., Peng, G.; Ward, S., and Cummings, S.), $446,000.

Exploring developments in 3D printing/scanning: juxtaposing with traditional manufacturing methods to produce a range of digitally fabricated customizable objects. 2012. FBE Internal Grant. (Demirbilek, O. R., and Carnemolla, P.), $15,735.

UNSW Major Research Equipment & Infrastructure Scheme grant 2009: ‘State of the art high tech three-dimensional scanning and printing equipment for the FBE Design Research Lab’ (Demirbilek, O. R., Ward, S., Park, M., Fowkes, A. and Lowe, R), $219,500.

UNSW Major Research Equipment & Infrastructure Scheme grant 2008:  ‘High-tech equipment for developing and fitting out the FBE Experimental Design & Research Lab (FBE ED&R Lab)’ (Demirbilek, O. R., Máté K., Carthey J., Fletcher, G., Lowe, R., Spehar, B. and Longbottom, C.), $150,000.

FBE Funding for Research Cluster Initiatives 2007, ‘Encouraging Sustainable Consumption in Urban Communities: Designing Future Scenarios for Product Sharing Facilities’, (Demirbilek, O. R., Ramirez, M., and Nawangpalupi, C.), $5,000.

AHURI 2007: ‘ The Efficient Use of Dwellings and Land by Older Home Owners. Unpacking scale for the different design professions: understanding the various representations and misrepresentations of human scale’ (Judd, B., Olsberg, D., Demirbilek, O. R., and Quinn, J.), $208,887.

FBE Faculty Research Grants Program 2007: ‘Understanding the Self-Directed Research Process in the Graduation Year in All UG Programs Within the Faculty of the Built Environment’ (Demirbilek, O. R., Katrina, S.), $4,000.

UNSW 2005 Learning and Teaching Awards 2005: ‘Equipment and cutting-edge hardware to facilitate the faculty’s multi-disciplinary research projects using interviewing, focus group sessions, and oral history’ (Quinlan, A., Corkery L., Marshall, N., Starfield, S., Evans, C., Demirbilek, O. R., Watson, B., and Zhou, P.), $14,961.

FBE research infrastructure block grant 2004 (Dunn, K., Gibson, C., Shaw, W., Thompson, S., and Demirbilek, O. R.), $13,938.

My Qualifications

Graduate Certificate in University Learning & Teaching (UNSW)

PhD Interior Architecture & Environmental Design (Bilkent)

PhD Product Design (Marmara)

Masters of Science in Building Sciences (METU)

Bachelor of Industrial Design (METU)

My Awards

Cite International des Arts residency in Paris UNSW/COFA 2012: creative arts research project on sacred geometry and wearable designs

Runner-up, Young Designer of the Year Award 2000, Sydney Morning Herald

Finalist, Designex’99 Symbol Design Competition, Istanbul 1999

2nd prize, SISECAM Decorative Glass Pane Competition, Istanbul 1998

Honourable Mention, SISECAM Decorative Glass Pane Competition, Istanbul 1998

1st prize, Ministry of Forestry, National Emblem Design Competition, Ankara 1993.

My Research Activities

Oya’s research work is two-fold: the first one is in investigating ways to capture people's perceptions of the design language of products and brands, and the second is in working with real users, with participatory co-design methods to help develop products, product-service systems and environments that are more usable and accessible for a wider range of people, regardless of their ability levels. This also includes exploring and finding ways to help make old age physically and emotionally more comfortable for all.

Both of these research areas involve empathy, accessible and inclusive design approaches and co-designing with real people. Her ultimate goal is to make accessibility and inclusion mainstream.

Her areas of interest include design research methods, product semantics, design language, inclusive and accessible design, universal design, co-design & participatory design. You can read more about her latest project with Breville here:

Oya’s design work explores hand-making and 3D printing/manufacturing and includes lamps, glass, ceramic vases, pot designs, and geometric jewellery.

My Research Supervision

Supervision keywords

Areas of supervision

Design for Old Age; Inclusive and accessible Design; Universal Design; Co-design and Participatory Design; Design Research Methods; Empathy; Emotion Driven Design; Design Language and Product Semantics

Currently supervising




Jie Meng PhD. Friction with New Technologies: Designing Future Daily Products that Make Older People Feel Valued (Main supervisor, jointly with Demet Dincer).





Farnaz Fattahi PhD. Artist/Architect/Activist - Choreographing Scenarios of Collective Interaction. Art, Design & Built Environment, Sydney (Joint supervisor with Ainslie Murray).



Danielah Martinez PhD. Towards Inclusive Aging: Examining the impact of Critical Design. Art, Design & Built Environment, Sydney (Joint supervisor with Katherine Moline).



David Schlosner PhD. Enhancing Medical Data's potential through Systematic Product Design. School of Built Environment, Sydney (Main supervisor with Gonz Portas).







Successfully completed




Frederique Sunstrum PhD. Self-conceptual perceptions on design language semantics: a case study on kitchen appliances in a cultural context. School of Built Environment, Sydney (Main supervisor, jointly with Nicole Gardner).


Peter Sweatman PhD. Evidence-based bathroom product design: creative liveable bathroom environments for older people. Faculty of the Built Environment, Sydney (Co-supervisor with Catherine Bridges).


Farzad Heyrani Master by Research. Assessing Contemporary Art Museums in Australia in terms of Interior Design Circulation and Success in Conveying Messages to Visitors. School of Built Environment, Sydney (Main supervisor, jointly with Bruce Watson).


Phillippa Carnemolla PhD. Enabling built environments: Home modification as a substitute for community care. Faculty of the Built Environment, Sydney (Co-supervisor with Catherine Birdge).


Li Xian PhD. E-waste and e-product life span in China UNSW, Faculty of the Built Environment, Industrial Design Program, Sydney (Joint supervision with Miles Park).


Catharina Nawangalupi PhD. Investigating the usability and the pleasurability of sustainable product-service systems. UNSW, Faculty of the Built Environment, Industrial Design Program, Sydney (Main supervisor, with Mariano Ramirez).


Joanne Quinn PhD. A Home for All Ages: Design of the Home Environment for an Ageing Australian Population. UNSW, Faculty of the Built Environment, Industrial Design Program, Sydney (Main supervisor).


Esra Demirel Masters by Research. Solutions and modifications towards design deficiencies of modular kitchens in Turkey: Kayseri as a case study. Master by research. Middle East Technical University. Esra started with Oya in 1999, and when Oya moved to Sydney, she became a Joint supervisor for Esra’s thesis.


Supervised 22 Master of Science and Master of Industrial Design by Coursework thesis (21 of them have completed successfully).


Supervised 76 Industrial Design Honours Thesis for the Bachelor of Industrial Design Embedded Honours as the sole supervisor.



My Engagement

Professional Engagement

COVID-19 Design Taskforce - Good Design Awards, member

Ambassador for Good Design Australia

The Design Society member since 2015

IFA International Federation on Ageing member since 2013

Design Institute of Australia member since 2012

Premier Design Awards -  2019, Jury Member

Australian Design Awards - 2018, 2019, Invited Jury Member

Invited International Independent External Reviewer for Promotion & Tenure of academic staff, School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2017, 2011, and 2010).

Australian Design Awards - James Dyson Award – First Round Internet Shortlisting. 2009, 2011, Jury Member

Turkey Industrial Design Awards. Istanbul December 5-9. 2010, Invited International Jury Member.

Peer Reviewer - 2010 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluations, Sydney, 2010, 2013.

Industrial Design Educators National Network in Australia, member IDNN since 2007

Invited Advisory Committee Member for the assessment of Good Design and the establishment of a good design Award in Turkey, ETMK - Industrial Designers’ Society of Turkey. 2006 - 2007

External Examiners for the Temasek Design School, Singapore 24 February - 2 March 2007

Technical Committee Member of the International Ergonomics Association on Affective Design, 2006-10

Invited 'expert assessor of international standing' to assess application(s) on behalf of the Australian Research Council under the peer review process for the Discovery-Projects Scheme for funding, since 2004 (cont.)

Member of the Include Network, Royal College of Art, London/UK since 2004

Member of the European Academy of Design, Salford/UK, since 2001

Member of CIB/TG19: Designing for the Ageing Society, Building Research Institute, Tatehara/Japan, since 1998

Reviewer for many international journals and Conferences (including Journal Architectural Science Review, Ergonomics, Applied Ergonomics, International Journal of Design [IJDesign], METU Journal of Architecture (JFA))

Public Lectures & Keynotes

Keynote speaker “Inclusive and Participatory Design” at the 5th UTAK National Design Research Conference, UTAK2022 Design and Pluralism, 14-15 September 2022, in Ankara, Turkey.

UNSW Meet the Professors series, 18 September 2019 "Better life in cities for all with accessible and inclusive design"

Meeting of the Minds monthly professorial talks series, Wednesday, 5 June "How can industrial design contribute to the design of better cities for all?"

Utzon Lecture Series 2016, Public Lecture, Colliding Worlds: Health, Well Being, Design and Built Environments, August 2016

COFA Talks: Art, Design and Healing. May 3, 2011.

In the Media

Podcast guest, 2021, Talking Architecture & Design, hosted by Branko Milic. Episode 83: Oya Demirbilek on how co-design & technology are changing designs for aging in place.

Ben Knight, 15, 09, 2019. Open Forum ( Designing for people

MirageNews, 06, 09, 2019 People-centric approach to design is key to enhancing standards of living

Stephanie Stefanovic, 06, 09, 2019. Architecture & Design Oya Demirbilek: Co-design is the key to higher living standards

Career FAQs, 2017, Providing career guides for every industry, career and occupationOya Demirbilek - Associate Dean (Education) at UNSW Built Environment

UNSW Built Environment Youtube Channel: "Enhancing standards of living through industrial design", researcher profile video.

Stephen Matchett, Make a wish for research infrastructure, UNSW’s constructive MOOC, Campus Morning Mail, Hard Facts and Insider Analysis, July 21, 2016

Margie Sheedy. Where the jobs are for postgraduates. The Sydney Morning Herald, August 23, 2014.

Jeshua Johnston, 2014. IC Central - The Value of Software Certification – Revit case study, UNSW, Faculty of Built Environment. Video interview, August 2014.

Included in the Virtual Design Museum of Industrial Design Turkey since 2011 - This is an initiative aimed at creating a memory on Turkey’s industrial design.

24 Hours - The Arts Diary - Exhibition. The Sydney Morning Herald, February 1, 2012, p. 9.

"Lab talk / FBE Design Lab – Factory of the mind". 2010. Uniken, Issue 58, Sept./Oct. Sydney: UNSW. p. 2.

"Learning the ropes". 2008. Curve Magazine, special issue on Design Education, October Issue 25, pp. 30-33.

Viviane Stappmanns, 2008. Working the space. Discover Peugeot – Driven, July 2008.

Packer S. 2008. Welcome to the office of the Future. Future Living. Spring 2008.

"Opinions of leading design figureheads for the initiative" - Australian International Design Awards, August 2008.

Australian Design Awards, 2008. 50th-year Yearbook. p. 166-167.

Australian Design Awards Yearbook. 2007. p. 90-91.

Interview with Stephen Lacey. 2007. The interview has been published in “Fresh Heirs: design students are leading the way with cutting edge creations - Looking at the institutions shaping them” The Sun-Herald. July 1, pp. 8-9.

Interview with Career FAQs for the “Industrial Design” book. 2007. Michelle Hespe, Teaching NSW/ACT- Career FAQs Pty Ltd. and also featured on their website.

Interviewed for the Oral History Program: “Female Designers” at the Middle East Technical University, 2004. Ankara, Industrial Design Program in December.

“Universal Design and Accessibility in Design”. 2002. The Comfort Zone. ABC Radio National (Australia). Interview by Catherine Freyne, Journalist. 10 October 2002, Sydney.

“Milan Furniture Exhibition and UNSW student works exhibited” 2001. WM magazine (Australia). Interview by Clare Masters, Journalist. 7 August 2001, Sydney.

TASA... Magazine No:3. News section about the winner of the Logo Design Competition for the Ministry of Forestry in Turkey. Endüstriyel Tasarımcılar Meslek Kuruluşu Yayın Organı. 1994

“Special Design Considerations Regarding the Elderly Population in Turkey”, 1998. interview by M. Nisancioglu from BBC World Service, 4 November 1998, Ankara.

My Teaching

Oya teaches in the areas of industrial design studio and design research methods.

She led the design, development, implementation and delivery of the first Built Environment Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Re-Enchanting the City (2013-16). This course has been offered in two iterations to 9,169 participants from 60 different countries, on FurtureLearn in 2016, receiving top rankings for career advancement in Urban Design, Landscape Design, and Interior Design among successful similar MOOCs. The course has now been converted to a General Elective course at UNSW since 2017, BENV2000, and Oya is teaching that course.

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Red Center Building, room 2024


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+61 2 9385 5613


This video is the first of the Stories Behind Products talk series, marking the 30+ years of the Industrial Design Program at UNSW, Sydney. Drew Wahlberg Rosskelly, an alumnus of UNSW Industrial Design is our first presenter. Drew talks about the Wahl&Ross Hand Sanitiser Dispenser he designed with his team. This product has been shortlisted for the Danish Design Award 2021. This product is also a Gold Winner at the Good Design Awards Australia 2021. Congratulations to the team at Wahl&Ross: Drew Wahlberg Rosskelly; Maria Wahlberg Rosskelly; Kurt Bouvy; and Charles Boyle! Drew is a well-known industrial designer in Australia and Denmark. He is the CEO and Founder at Details by Wahl&Ross and a Senior Industrial Design Consultant for Breville and Sage Appliances. Before that, Drew was the Chief Industrial Designer at the Danish Technological Institute and a Product Designer at Breville Australia. His first job was with LEGO as a junior designer. Drew takes us with him through the journey of the conception, design and production of the Wahl&Ross Hand Sanitiser Dispenser.

During the Stories Behind Products, industrial designers from the national and international stage will talk about their design journey through a single product. The talks will focus on real-life product stories, where presenters will uncover the story of one specific product undertaken by them. The stories will include why the product was made, the product development process and its nitty-gritty, the struggles, the highs and lows, the failures and the lessons, and maybe some of the changes these products have made to people’s lives.

Watch the other talks:
UTAK 2022: 5, which was held online between 14-16 September with the theme of Design and Pluralism. At the National Design Research Conference, invited keynote speaker Prof Dr Oya Demirbilek made a speech titled "Inclusive and Participatory Design".
Presented at the Rapid Cities Responsive Architectures Conference, Dubai 2020. "We are fast moving towards a world where the human population will reach 9.4 billion people in 2050, with close to 17% being above the age of 65, and 75% expected to be living in hyper-dense cities that will cover 3% of the world's land surface. Besides, one in three people has a disability or care for someone with a disability, with 80% of disabilities being invisible to most other people. The presentation also shares forecasted figures on the animal, plant, insect, and algae species for the next 30 years; and talks about how that impacts our life on the crust of Earth. These figures underline our imminent need to re-design, improve and future-proof the urban environments we live in and the devices and objects we interact with daily. They all have a significant impact on our daily experiences, our extent of ability or disability, and our ecological footprint. The main discussion is on what 'better' could mean and for whom, followed by the many ways we could make our urban environments more inclusive for all, not just for us humans but also for all other inhabitants of the world, included in the biosphere, for an inclusive multispecies design approach.
Inaugural Professorial lecture entitled 'Better life in cities for all, with accessible and inclusive design'
Presented at the Design for Healthy Ageing mini-conference organised by Dr Mar Ramirez for IDES2223, September 2020.
Teaching & Learning presentation: ‘Learning from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and BE applications’. This is a presentation made to the Online Teaching Symposium 2020 (May 11 – May 22), as part of the Faculty Tiger Team, under the category Best Practice Videos.

The aims of the Online Teaching Symposium 2020 organised by the Faculty of Built Environment (BE) were to:
• Provide BE teaching staff with practical guidance and support in delivering courses online in Terms 2 & 3 for 2020;
• Engage and provide constructive dialogue around online teaching practices in the BE context;
• Provide professional development around the educational practice.
• Develop and debate educational agenda and strategies to ensure the delivery of high-quality online education;
• Provide a foundation for future conversations around the educational practice, collaboration and support amongst teaching staff.
Everyday life experienced by most of us is changing at an unprecedented speed, with the changes in population, and the advances in technology and manufacturing processes.

Emotions are forces that help us make sense of the world, and as such, are a central component of what makes us experience life. Emotions make us human and influence our thoughts, behaviour, experiences, and relationship with the world. In a physical world that is now colliding with the new digital world, design is gaining ever more importance. This will be illustrated with examples of design for well-being, happiness, and health; together with some of the unexpected side effects. This lecture will also offer a glimpse of what is to come in the future, with the latest technological advances.
Video also featured with a nice story in this faculty webpage:
Associate Professor, Oya Demirbilek, talks about "designer insight" behind the Central Park Sydney development which is the focus of our 1st Massive Open Online 6 week Course (MOOC) offered on FutureLearn in 2016, at UNSW Built Environment.
Associate Professor Oya Demirbilek, at UNSW Built Environment, introduces the Industrial Design program whilst students talk about their projects.
Stories Behind Products
UTAK 2022 National Conference "Inclusive & Participatory Design" (Kapsayıcı ve Katılımcı Tasarım) - Keynote Speech
Better Life in Urban Areas for All with Inclusive Design
Inaugural Professorial lecture - September 2019
Accessible & inclusive design: everyday products for older adults
Learning from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and BE applications
Utzon Lecture 2016 | Colliding Worlds: Health, Well-being, Design and Built Environments
Built Environment Research Profile: Enhancing standards of living through industrial design
Massive Open Online Course (in FurtureLearn) "Re-enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat" - Week 5, with Oya Demirbilek
UNSW Industrial Design Program - 2008