$15 full price / $10 concession / $10 NGV, AGDA and DIA members


Booked out
Thu 17 Mar
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm


The Wheeler Centre
176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC, Australia

Debbie Millman, photo by John Madere

Debbie Millman: By Design Past Event

Presented by The Wheeler Centre

Designer, author, educator and host of the award-winning podcast Design Matters Debbie Millman comes to the Wheeler Centre as part of Melbourne Design Week to discuss her multifaceted career and the many ways design can help build a better future.

Design Matters is one of the world’s first breakthrough podcasts, and the first dedicated to design and the artistic mind. For fifteen years, Millman has interviewed the world’s most innovative creative thinkers. In her new book, Why Design Matters, she collects 80 of her best interviews and pairs them with photographic portraits of the subjects – including Brené Brown, Malcolm Gladwell and Aminatou Sow. These intimate conversations with legends, truth tellers, trendsetters and visionaries offer insights into the craft of creativity, and what it can teach us about living well and loving openly.

At this lunchtime conversation hosted by Michaela Webb, the spotlight turns on Millman as she explores her creative process and professional triumphs. For design devotees and dilettantes alike, Millman will share the lessons she’s learned about designing the world you want.

For more information, visit The Wheeler Centre website.


Debbie Millman

Named “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company, and “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, Debbie Millman is also an author, educator, curator and host of the podcast Design Matters.

Debbie’s podcast, Design Matters is one of the first and longest running podcasts, and as host and founder, Millman has interviewed nearly 500 of the most creative people in the world over the past 17 years. Design Matters won a 2011 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, in 2015 Apple designated it one of the best overall podcasts on iTunes, and in 2021 designated it one of their “All Time Favorite Podcasts.” In addition, the show has been nominated for six Webby Awards, and has been listed on over 100 “Best Podcasts” lists, including one of the best podcasts in the world by Business Insider and Vanity Fair.

Debbie is the author of seven books, including two collections of interviews that have extended the ethos and editorial vision of Design Matters to the printed page: How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. Both books have been published in over 10 languages. Her most recent book, Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People, will be published by Harper Collins in Fall 2021. She is also the co-owner and Editorial Director of

Debbie co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2010. Now in its eleventh year, the program has achieved international acclaim. The inaugural class wrote and designed the Rockport book Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands, in 2013 the students created branding for the Museum of Modern Art’s retail program, Destination: New York, the class of 2015 worked to reposition a Kappa Middle School in Harlem, the class of 2016 rebranded Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation, the class of 2017 worked with Kholsa Ventures, Performance Space New York and Chobani Incubators, and the class of 2018 worked with Brian Koppelman to design a logo for the television show Billions. The class of 2021, along with selected alumni, created the most recent design of the Sundance Institute Film Festival.

For 20 years, Debbie was the President of Sterling Brands, one of the world’s leading branding consultancies. She arrived in 1995 when the company was two years old and had 15 employees in one office. Under her leadership, Sterling grew to 150 employees in five offices and she was instrumental in the firm’s acquisition by Omnicom in 2008. Omnicom is one of the world’s largest holding companies. While there she worked on the logo and brand identity for Burger King, Hershey’s, Haagen Dazs, Tropicana, Star Wars, Gillette, and the No More movement.

Debbie’s writing and illustrations have appeared in publications such as The New York TimesThe Washington PostNew York Magazine, Print Magazine, Baffler and Fast Company. She is the author of two books of illustrated essays: Look Both Ways and Self-Portrait As Your Traitor; the latter of which has been awarded a Gold Mobius, a Print Typography Award, and a medal from the Art Directors Club. Her artwork is included in the Boston Biennale, Chicago Design Museum, Anderson University, School of Visual Arts, Long Island University, The Wolfsonion Museum and the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art. She has been critic-in-residence at Cranbrook University, Old Dominion University and Notre Dame University, and has conducted visual storytelling workshops all over the world.

Debbie is also President Emeritus of AIGA, one of five women to hold the position in the organization’s 100-year history and was awarded a lifetime achievement award from AIGA in 2019. She is a frequent speaker on design and branding and has spoken at TED Women (her talk was one of the Top Ten most popular talks of 2020), moderated Design Yatra in India, presented keynote lectures at Rotman School of Management, Princeton University, Michigan Modern, the Hong Kong Design Association, the Melbourne Writers Festival, Design Thinkers in Toronto, the Festival of Art and Design in Barcelona, Webstock in New Zealand, QVED in Munich, ING in Dubai, ND2C in Pakistan, PS One in China, Web Summit in Lisbon and many more. She has been a juror for competitions including Cannes Lions, The Clio’s, the One Club, the D&AD awards and many, many more.

Debbie is currently working with Law & Order SVU actor and activist Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation to eradicate sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and the rape-kit backlog.

Michaela Webb (Moderator)

After years spent in both high-craft and highly strategic design studios, Michaela saw an opportunity for a place that brings the two together. She still believes this coalescence of strategy and considered design drives results and delivers work with the strongest impact.

With over 20 years’ experience, Michaela has worked with some of the world’s leading brand and design companies, including Wolff Olins and Spin in London, and in 2016 was elected as a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).

Her deep knowledge of creating brands that understand consumer needs—aligning storytelling, identity and experience design – has resulted in valuable cultural and commercial outcomes.

Michaela is committed to ensuring that design is part of the conversation across multiple industries. Due to this approach, clients from sectors including lifestyle and hospitality, arts and culture, retail, and beyond have drawn on her expertise.

She currently sits on boards for Melbourne Art Foundation and Ian Potter Museum of Art.