De­signed for a land down un­der

There’s never been a bet­ter time to ex­plore con­tem­po­rary lo­cal de­sign, writes Robyn Wil­lis lis

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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.

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