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Alumni Stories

Drink up! UC alumnus designs bottle for Asics

René Linssen may have been born in South Africa, but he studied – and has kicked career goals – right here in Australia’s national capital ever since.

The University of Canberra alumnus’ most recent achievement was his part in designing a drink bottle for sporting giant Asics, now on shelves around Australia.

After completing a Bachelor of Industrial Design in 2015, René started working for local multi-disciplinary design consultancy, Formswell.

“Every day we do a range of things from sketching to prototypes and 3D modelling. People come to us with an idea and we make it happen,” he says.

“All of the practical things I learnt at UC, are my day to day tasks in the workplace.”

Formswell was approached by Bottles Australia in 2019 to draw up a design for a 600ml and 800ml drink bottle for Asics, which could fit into a conventional bottle holder.

René and Formswell Director and Designer, Daniel Armstrong started the process by drawing inspiration from current sporting trends and products on the market, and sketching three designs.

“We hadn’t seen a lot of current trends translated into bottles before, because bottles can be quite basic and simple,” René said.

“We wanted to bring in a bit of the design and texture you see in shoes and other sport products on the market.”

The design that was chosen was refined in one month and was sent for the manufacturing and tooling process.

The Asics drink bottle took around 12 months from design to shelf, but more complex products can take years.

The bottles hit Australian shelves just before Christmas last year, after being manufactured in Sydney.

The rest of René’s portfolio boasts a range of impressive projects, including an incense holder stocked locally in Canberra, and a promenade along Lake Burley Griffin.

One of his proudest achievements, however, can be seen scattered around the city he calls home.

“I entered a design competition a few years ago and the ACT Government purchased a hundred or so of the winning bike racks I designed, which are inspired by Parliament House, and placed them all around Canberra,” he says.

“That’s probably more of a career highlight for me, something that is inspired by and used in my hometown – that was a big moment.”

Coming full circle, and on top of his already busy schedule, René now lends his talents to where it all started – UC.

The industrial designer lectures and tutors in design topics at UC College, helping the next generation of creatives move into the workforce.

With current industry experience under his belt, he is an asset to his students and the University alike.

René has two pieces of advice for budding young designers.

“You’re going to get out of your career what you put into it - some of my biggest successes were things I did outside of university, like the design competition,” he says.

“I also think connections are a big thing. My then-teacher is actually now my boss, so I would definitely be fostering all of the relationships you make while you’re studying.”

As a student himself, René couldn’t quite imagine the career he would make for himself right in his hometown.

“I thought I would probably have to move to Sydney or Melbourne to progress because I had always been under the impression that’s where the big jobs were,” he says.

“I see working in Canberra as a real blessing because I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had working in a bigger city.”

To continuing adding to his resume, René will be working on the 3D visualisation for the next stage of the Canberra light rail and a new shelter for the ACT Government.

Words by Danielle Meddemmen, photos Madeleine Wood

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