Designed for a land down under
There’s never been a better time to explore contemporary local design, writes Robyn Willis lis
With our national day just around the corner, all things Australian, from plastic flags to toy koalas have suddenly become must-haves.
But in all our patriotic fervour, how many of us stop to consider where those symbols of Australia are designed or made?
Chairwoman of the Authentic Design Alliance, Anne Maree Sargeant, rgeant, says there’s no better time to support upport local design, which is producing ducing more beautiful, original work than ever.
“We are inventive by nature and being a country without out borders our own design vernacular is emerging at warp speed,” she says. “We We have one of the world’s fastest-growing contemporary design cultures.”
Our use of materials such as Australian timbers s is inspired, as is our ability y to draw on the raw beauty y of our landscape.
Indeed, the rest of the world has been happy to embrace the work of local designers such as furniture designer Adam Goodrum for Italian firm Cappellini and lighting designer Christopher Boots for French luxury brand Hermes while Marc Newson has worked for Alessi, Iittala and Smeg, among other international brands.
Style for a lifetime
While many of us love local design in theory, it can be seen as expensive with one-off pieces sometimes selling for many thousands of dollars. Anne Maree suggests that we need to take a more European approach, particularly to buying furniture. She says we should ditch the cheap replicas that don’t stand up to the task in favour of handcrafted investment pieces that will last a lifetime. “Good design does not always have to be expensive but it must have a purpose — and it must innovate to be understood as good design,” she says. “Good“G design doesn’t go out of style. It’s just good.”good But local design doesn’td have to be expensive. Online sitessi such as Etsy reveal a thriving and affordableafforda local handmade market, while sole practitionersp such as ceramicist Kim WallaceWal and collectives like Workshopped showcases an array of homeware homewares at affordable prices. Austra Australian design is also evident in mass-producedmassproduct made oversea overseas. Ceramics company Jones & Co does its design work right he here, while iconic bed linen brand SheridanS creates new ranges of sheets and quilt covers in its SydneySy studio. “Our design team are inspired by their journeys around Australia, where the unmistakably Australian colours, landscapes and quality of light they encounter informs their seasonal design process,” says Paul Gould, group general manager for Sheridan.
“Every Sheridan product is put through our exhaustive regimes at our testing laboratory in South Australia, to ensure our customers are buying the highest quality products globally.”
Our stories, our way
Perhaps the best thing about buying Australian designed and made products is that they are telling our stories for our conditions.
Outdoor furniture retailer Tait has been designing for Australian conditions for more than 20 years. Owners Gordon Tait — a former sheet metal worker — and Susan Tait understand our harsh environment providing practical advice for keeping their furniture looking its best for longer.
Co-director of textiles company Utopia Goods, Sophie Tallow, says we’re in a unique environment that ought to be celebrated.
“It’s integral to the cultural identity of the country, creating that sense of place,” she says.