Steve Santer Biography

I’m currently undertaking a PhD (Design) with RMIT Melbourne, with a expected completion date of April 2025. More information will be uploaded as the research and design practice project unfold.

In September 2020, I successfully completed my Masters of Design Futures (M.Des) from RMIT Melbourne—with Distinction.

My research focus explored object-oriented, speculative realist philosophies and complementary conceptual concepts and their potentials to positively impact Design and Futures research and practice.

The wider coursework of the Design Futures programme was concerned with the evolving practice of design and its methodologies, and its influences beyond the normal contexts of design, and how these aspects of design affect society. Essentially, it was about the future practices of design and how it can be applied across the many facets of; learning, systems, politics, environment, communities, technology, and any other networked segments of society. We examined ethnographic approaches to research, to unveil weaknesses and strengths in the world and how design approaches can be leveraged to increase value to these systems.

My assertion in my Masters research addresses the current need to develop new ways of thinking within Design processes. To achieve this I looked to philosophical concepts from a speculative realist positions. By unpacking ideas within object-oriented ontology and vital materialism specifically, concepts arose that have the potential to ameliorate and emancipate design approaches; encouraging a jolt from entrenched design thinking — developing new worldviews, particularly non-anthropocentric views, I believe is a much needed outcome for Design practice in the ever accelerating convergence of the problematic futures we are all facing.

I further assert that object-oriented philosophies and ontological design concepts assist designers to incorporate ideas of ethics and justice within designed solutions, and elevate these essential concerns among stakeholders within the processes of Design.

My first foray in design was via traditional fine arts after completing a Diploma in Fine Art with a major in photography (1996) followed by completing a Diploma in Multimedia Production (1997). My study placed me on the path of graphic, motion and interaction design. I immediately found work with Brand Dialogue, a company within the global agency Y&R in North Sydney. I worked on big projects for Nintendo Australia, Mitsubishi Australia, FAI Insurance, among others. This stint at Brand Dialogue was followed by ongoing freelance work with emerging design studios with clients including Warner Music Australia and Fender Australia. From 2003 onwards my career saw me work within a range of award winning agencies spanning national and global brands.

My professional experience and skills span various visual and interactive disciplines, as I worked with diverse teams within design studios, advertising and digital agencies, and start-up environments. I have a deep and broad  design and technical knowledge base. My previous roles have included; Design Director, Senior Digital Art Director, Lead Designer (UI/UX), Motion Designer, and Creative Technologist and Programmer (Flash, Processing, and iOS). With many years working as a senior creative and technologist I have the ability to;

  • collaborate with stakeholders to define the problem space,
  • work effectively in many team structures, across departments and levels of stakeholders,
  • accommodate a variety of Agile & Lean processes within start-ups through to larger agency teams,
  • manage design teams and design studio work flow,
  • think broadly and unconventionally, and to reframe situations.

I have been privileged in my career to have worked for clients and projects for: Nintendo Australia, Pioneer, Sunbeam, Breville, GSK, Pfizer, Zoetis, Subaru, Unilever, AMP, ING Investment, Meriton, Fraser Property, Random House Australia, Electrolux Home Products (Westinghouse, Simpson, Electrolux), Fairfax and many more.

Education: July 2016 – September 2020

RMIT Masters of Design Futures

Completed June 2020. Further study through a Masters of Design Futures (MDF) from RMIT, with a GPA of 3.9.

My focus explores the potential of object-oriented ontology and complementary concepts like metaphor and alien phenomenology, to positively impact design research and practice.

The wider course of MDF is about the evolving design practice and methodologies, and its influences beyond the normal contexts of design, and how it plays out in society. It’s about future practices of design and how it can be applied across the many facets of; learning, systems, politics, environment, communities, technology, and any other networked segments of society. We examine ethnographic approaches to research, to unveil weaknesses and strengths in the world and how design approaches can be leveraged to increase value to these systems.

Completed course modules and marks of the Masters are:

Capstone research project – HD
Research Methods for Design and Digital Media – HD
Future Design Clients – HD
Design Strategy – HD
Service Design for Communication Design – DI
Future Design Contexts – HD
Future Design Leadership – HD
Humanitarian Design Thinking – HD

May 2016 – February 2019

Cafe Owner – Black Market Espresso Bar, Mooloolabah, Queensland, Australia

I mention this detour of my design career as it demonstrates not only what careful service design, strategic research and implementation can achieve, but also provides evidence of enthusiasm to learn about customers and understand their needs, and to push myself to strive beyond personal expectations. This cafe was sold at its full potential in February 2019.

In this endeavour I became my own client and co-created the success of the business with my wife. Our success was supported by ongoing relationship building with our local customers which drove us to continuously improve our offerings.

The success of this enterprise was directly linked to applying design research and implementing findings, many methods which were refined through my Masters Design coursework.

Through observational research, we correctly identified and targeted our markets, modified our products and services as our understanding of patrons’ needs matured. We successfully remodelled the styling, brand and communications. Improved, reduced, and enhanced business processes.

Effectively implemented marketing channels across social media, utilising influencers and key community groups. We had to get cut-through with minimal marketing budget, to compete with more established and better funded premises.

We ran this espresso bar for 20 months and sold the business at its full potential.

** Won Best Cafe of 2017 Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia (March 2018) on BeanHunter,
** Ranked #5 coffee destination in Australia on BeanHunter 2018. With media coverage across local press and local / national TV.

Identified physical health and sustainability issues as priorities for our regular local clients. We focussed on serving locally roasted, sustainable, organic Clandestino Roasters blends and single origin coffees. Sourcing and selling a range of organic breads, locally baked cakes, sliders and pastries; ingredients for which were also sourced from local producers reducing overall food miles.

August 2012 – January 2017

Consulting Digital Art Director, 3D Artist and Motion Designer — Blur Design Studio

My design consultancy business. Working with clients, across:

– Creative direction
– Brand and business strategy
– UX design; user journeys, wire framing, and prototyping for mobile apps and games and other
– UI and Interaction design solutions for; mobile, tablet and desktop
– 2D & 3D illustration and animation
– Storyboarding and motion design
– Communication Design (print and digital)
– TV production design, animation and colour grading for a children’s tv series for broadcast TV

Stand out projects included:

— Splash Dance for which I art directed, designed, and illustrated 32, 2-3 minute, episodes that were aired on ABC Kids (Australian national broadcast) and available on iView (ABC’s viewer mobile app) in 2016 & 2017. Blur Design was also responsible for packaging design, marketing material, and other crucial touch points of the company and brand.

— A children’s mobile application that allowed portrait photos to be sculpted onto 3d characters and completed with lip sync in a game. I was involved in the brand conceptualisation and design, UX & UI design, and 2d & 3d illustration.

— 3x mobile apps developed by a LEAN start-up called Selu. Selu undertook 3 apps that had personal security at its core. MyMinder, a personal emergency and contact application, Red Handed was created to encourage citizen journalism reporting around the world, and Cammy a security camera viewing system that was agnostic in its hardware requirements. As lead designer I was responsible for brand conceptualisation and design, UX design, and UI, and communication design across all 3 products. Of the 3 products Cammy had the most promise at the time, and was allowed to reach its full potential. This work required close collaboration across department heads to expedite weekly development milestones.

— Contract work with the Sydney-based start-up, GoCatch, primarily working on their public and investor communications and refining branding both print and digital formats.

Contract: Jan 2013 – June 2013

Design Lead  – Orchard Marketing

Working across pharmaceutical brands of Pfizer, Zoetis as well as FMCG brands Equal and Campbells and tourism brand Carnival; on mobile, tablet and desktop deployed media, both static and motion 3D/video.


Clio – Healthcare Bronze
Client: Trocoxil
Project: iPad app
Role: Motion design and 3d animation

Contract: September 2012 – October 2012

Design Director & Flash Dev – Nomad Agency

Contract role at Nomad covering Design Director and Flash Development roles working with Nomad’s awesome team on some great clients!

Ikea – Klipbok, Flash development work – debugging and adding essential updates to Ikea’s browser-based catalogue and interior design application Klipbok,

Monkey Mayhem – Taronga Zoo Sydney, illustration and design work on Taronga Zoos award winning mobile app,

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service – WilderQuest, further illustration and design work for a new level to the award winning iPad game.

May 2011 – August 2012

Design Director – Deepend

Both a management and a hands-on role at Deepend Sydney.

I managed an awesome team of 4 designers and art directors and organised freelancers as needed.

One of my mandates was to ensure the high quality of craft of the work that goes out of Deepend; from motion graphics, TVCs, illustrations to full website design. I worked closely with Deepend’s creative director, collaborating on both creative and design direction.

Working across a range of clients that include:
– FMCG: Streets Paddlepop (flash development, UI design, and illustration), Great Western Foods (art direction), PnG OMO (flash development and UI Design), Forerro Rocher ( photography art direction, UI and UX for their Australian online ordering);

– The arts and entertainment: Sydney Symphony (art direction), Nickelodeon (graphic design), Fox8 (graphic design);

– Mining: Ausenco (3D illustration, motion design);

– Home appliance product design; Breville (rapid prototyping, flash development, UI Design and UX Design);

– Tourism: Sydney Festival (TVC animation), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (illustration and UI Design), Taronga Zoo (Illustration and mobile UI design), Merlin Entertainment, Sydney Tower Eye, Madam Tussaud’s, Sydney Wildlife, Sydney Aquarium (website UI design and templating system for all their properties).

October 2010 – May 2011

Creative Technologist / Digital Art Director – &some (New Zealand)

Working with a fantastic collaboration of artists and designers on commercial projects that have art principles at their core.

I conceptualised and created a user-controlled lighting installation for Microsoft and HP, using Twitter filtering as the control UI. I programmed a search filter algorithm and DMX controller with Processing to control a series of RGB LEDs installed in the shop.

Users could message a colour to a handle on twitter. The program would uncover the message and extract the colour (which could be either written like “white” or “red” or a hexadecimal value like “#FF000”). This would then convert the string to hexadecimal and send the colour to the DMX controller.


2014 – Bronze Clio – Healthcare

Trocoxil eDetail Aid – (iPad application).

Role Motion Design and 3D animation.

Agency Orchard Marketing.

2013 – AIMIA – Best of the Best (+ 10 other categories)

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Society – WilderQuest iPad application. This iPad app has won 11 awards in total including Best of the Best AIMIA.

Role Design Director, Illustration and Interaction Design for several features and environments.

Agency Deepend Sydney, Nomad Agency.

2012 – AIMIA – Finalist

Streets Paddle Pop Begins (Lick-a-Prize 2011).

Role Design Direction, Illustration, 3D modelling, 3D programming and game Flash Development.

Agency Deepend Sydney.

2012 – IAB Australia Awards – Tablet marketing

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Society – WilderQuest iPad application.

Role Design Director. Interaction Design for several features and environments.

Agency Deepend Sydney, Nomad Agency.

2009 – AMIA Finalist – Multimedia and Interactive
Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) – Yellow Card.

Role Flash Development Agency G2 Sydney / Grey Melbourne.

2009 – MADC best ambient non-traditional media bronze
Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) – Yellow Card

Role Flash Development Agency G2 Sydney / Grey Melbourne

February 2008 – October 2010

Senior Digital Art Director – G2 Australia

Art Director across digital projects and managed the small team of full-time designers and freelancers.

Working across digital projects for:
• GSK (Ribena)
• Electrolux home products (Westinghouse, Simpson, Chef)
• Fernwood Fitness
• BAT (Dunhill, Winfield, Holiday, Kent)
• Sara Lee
• Moccona coffee
• Ambi-pur (air freshener)
• P&G (Covergirl)
• Allergan (botox)
• Victorian Government (TAC)

November 2006 – February 2008

Senior Interactive Designer / Flash Developer – Clear Blue Day

UI and UX Design, creating animations and video, and developing Flash solutions. Clients; Subaru Australia, Moonlight Cinema, Sunbeam, Pioneer, AMP, Mission Australia, and Vodafone.

Key project; web application I designed and built for Moonlight Cinemas developed in Flash AS3. A major milestone for my programming capabilities.

2003 – 2006

Designer – Antart / Wideopen Media

Print design across arts magazine Photofile, book cover designs for novels and textbooks, and internal layouts for a variety of tertiary textbooks and children’s books, and annual reports.

Logo and brand design, digital design across several local, small to medium size businesses in Sydney.

1998 – 2002


For 3 years I worked with a group of ambitious people, as we set about developing online competition software. Designed to run fully compliant with Australian federal and state gaming laws. This was a massive undertaking and proved successful through a number of campaigns. However, low numbers of sales of the platform resulted in shuttering the business.

I was the co-founder of the start-up. And designed all print and business communications, as well as developing the logics of the competition engine. For some reason I always felt ashamed of the failure of this venture, and I don’t include it elsewhere in my CVs or LinkedIn. However, I still strongly believe that at the time this idea was cutting-edge and feel that our weakness was in developing the sales rather than in the founding concept itself. The outcome of this scenario however, was my first understanding of the complexities of micro- and small-businesses. The importance of focussing and forecasting cashflows and the personalities of the teams.

Some of our clients included, Fender Australia and Dendy Cinemas.

March 1998 – September 1998 (6 month contract)

Brand Dialogue (Y&R Sydney)

Designing Flash animations (which had just been released) and web solutions for companies like : Nintendo Australia, FAI, Mitsubishi Australia and Yogo