Johnson, who takes over from Peter Souter, the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO creative chief, at the end of the year, wants designers to get more directly involved in D&AD's activities.
A large proportion of young designers have tended to snub the D&AD, which they regard as being dominated by the advertising community.
"Michael's big task will be to get young designers more involved in what the D&AD is trying to do, Souter said.
Johnson, a founding partner of Johnson Banks, is the winner of four D&AD Pencils and has been involved in the preparation of the programme to celebrate the D&AD's 40th birthday this year.
He was briefly in advertising, having worked as an art director alongside Dave Droga, now the Saatchi & Saatchi executive creative director, at Omon, a small Sydney agency, 11 years ago.