regional roundup

regional roundup: australia!

by anne

for the past few weeks we’ve been exploring the major design hubs in australia. but as with anywhere, there are those incredibly talented artists and designers who are able to make a name for themselves from off the beaten track. today’s final regional roundup: australia covers everywhere in between. and while these features have been focusing on the contemporary design scene, aboriginal art – a history that covers 40,000 years – continues to make it’s mark on australia, and is something i still hope to explore (talk about patterns! . . . luckily, one of the best collections is at the kluge-ruhe aboriginal art collection at my beloved university of virginia, of all places). but that’s the beauty of these roundups – they’re a starting point to discover a place, begin a conversation and in a world that is constantly changing and each can be revisited. it’s been nearly three months since i started on this piece – which features over 40 designers – and it’s still only brushing the surface. so please continue the dialogue in the comments, sharing your new discoveries, favorite aussie designers, inspiration and observations. in case you missed any, you can find all the posts here. and to view this full post (and many more designers) just click here. [an incredible thank you to everyone who participated!!!]anne

[aboriginal painting by roslyn ann kemp, above]

Magic Jelly

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now? 
Born & bred right here in Adelaide, South Australia.

2. Describe your work 
Most important to me is to communicate & connect.  I’ve just started a project called The Paper Chase, trading art for paper, it’s all about collaboration & communication.  I try to make my work as accessible as possible.  I like to use low-tech equipment (Gocco for instance) & commonplace materials, & to lavish care & attention on the forgotten, overlooked & discarded.  I tend to work on a small scale, firstly, because I’m a finicky fuss-budget obsessed with detail, but also because I want my work to be intimate & personal rather than to shout at you from across the room.  I hope a little bit of wit & levity creeps in there somewhere too.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I often trawl the local secondhand markets for bits & pieces to use in my work, & take lots of photos, particularly of signage & architecture.  In fact, I’m combining my interest in architecture & ephemera at the moment by building a house out of paper, loosely based on a lovely row of late-Victorian terrace houses on the seafront near where I live.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired? 
Anywhere that’s out of the house!  Every spring I start feeling restless & want to take a trip to Sydney.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene? 

I really can’t say as I don’t feel that I’m a part of it – I’m a total hermit!  It’s a small market, that’s for sure – especially in Adelaide – & I tend to sell more internationally & do more commissions for overseas clients.  I think the Australian scene is growing though.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go? 
I’m planning a visit to the US in a few months’ time to take a road trip along the West Coast.  Now, if you have a time machine handy, where I’d really like to go is back to the mid-20th century so I can go wild amassing huge quantities of ephemera & toys, & taking lots of photos.

Click here for more work by Karena and visit the Magic Jelly Etsy shop here.

Bison Home

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am From Grenfell NSW (population 2000 ). My family came on the Sirius…the first Fleet of White Settlers/Convicts who came to Australia in 1788. I currently live in Canberra and my studio is in a rural location (Pialligo) surrounded by plant nurseries and vineyards.

2. Describe your work
My work…best described as a ceramics designer. I am drawn to simple, classic forms and I produce a large range (140 profiles and 30 colours) of dinnerware and decorator pieces. I’m a former archaeologist and ancient historian who became tired of excavating broken pots in Syria … so I taught myself how to make them instead! We create forms which reflect the relationship between beauty…and practicality. I am fortunate to have a wonderful team of craftspeople who support me in crafting our Fine Australian Stoneware Collections.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
As a person who was training to be an academic… I was captivated by the evolution of design in Classical History…and the amazingly poignant social contexts behind ceramic vessels. To unearth a piece of pottery…over 2000 years old with a fingerprint in it sends chills up your spine. I also went to School in Malmo Sweden and the colours and subtlety of Scandinavian seasons and design…obviously filter through my palette and shapes.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I absolutely love The Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Crusing along the stark coastline in a car or just spending time at our family Beachhouse near Portsea. Simple, unpretentious…and better still…uncomplicated.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
Australia is changing rapidly in terms of global visibility and credibility. I always find it ironic though that within our own country people find it hard to conceptualize that viable design and manufacture can occur outside of Sydney and Melbourne. People look somewhat bemused when you tell them your studio is in Canberra (Our capital is better known for the Greenhouse gasses which come out of the Parliament Buildings!) That being said I see numerous whimsical and elegant works from talented artists/designers emerging…particularly working with textiles.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go? If I could travel anywhere and spend time it would be south America…Belize in particular. The fusion of Jungle (with panthers) Mayan Pyramids and Amish/Mennonite settlers….sounds so disparate you’d have to get inspiration!

Click here for more from Bison Home.


Iggy & Loulou

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Australia and live outside of Melbourne by the seaside.

2. Describe your work
Full of contradictions-ancient/futuristic, textured/smooth, sweet/scary, but all handmade with heart- designed to last and be loved 4 ever.

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

I think I would do the same work wherever I chose to live, although I think living in Australia gives me a certain amount of physical and mental space to do what I want to do.

4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I don’t go anywhere in particular to feel inspired. Ideas and desires come from all sorts of places, however I chose to live by the sea because I find I need it to clear my mind and give me the space to think and dream.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
Its quite diverse if you are prepared to dig around a bit. There is a certain amount of freedom because we are quite isolated from the rest of the world so many designers feel free to experiment and not think they have to follow conservative methods or fall in line with traditional ways of thinking.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I try to plan a trip overseas each year to cure my wanderlust- there are still countless places I want to see. But the place I want to go to the most at the moment is much closer to home- Ulluru in the Northern Territory.

Click here for more of Irene’s work.

Sean Morris

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born and still live (for now) in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia – the most isolated capital city in the world.

2. Describe your work
My work consists of pen drawings which take far too long to finish. I start with subjects that I find kinda silly or hilarious and try to turn them into something really nice to look at – which is why I end up with delicate, intensely rendered fine line drawings of fat hairy dudes holding guns, or 80’s girls in Bon Jovi t-shirts.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I wouldn’t say my work is heavily influenced by where I live, seeing as most of the artists who inspire me live thousands of miles way and I tend to mainly draw animals that I’ve never seen outside of Perth zoo… but I do live pretty close to my girlfriend’s art college, and usually work on whatever pieces of wood I can pilfer from there, so I guess that’s something.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
I don’t intentionally go anywhere for inspiration – it seems to come in all manner of different places. The pub, the library, the post office. I don’t want to be anti-Perth since there are enough people who do that already, but there isn’t a lot of stuff specific to this city that I think inspires me. I guess that’s good in a way, since I could probably create the sort of work that I do regardless of where I was living.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?
I can’t really comment on the Australian design scene as a whole, since I don’t pay attention to much stuff outside of illustration, but the scene for illustration is pretty strong. My favourite Australian artists do mostly street-influenced work, but there’s a rapidly growing market for more delicate/girly art. I think I sit awkwardly somewhere in the middle.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I am pretty into the whole San Francisco scene at the moment, so it would be cool to get over there. Ideally to exhibit some work. That’s kind of my 1.5 year goal at the moment, actually.

Click here to see more of Sean’s work, and here to check out his new Etsy shop.

Cloth Fabric
1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Originally Somerset in the UK. [currently] Sydney, Australia for the past 20 years.

2. Describe your work
Contemporary screen printed upholstery and soft furnishing fabrics using natural fabrics with a sustainable edge.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I am strongly influenced by my local environment – all my work comes from my drawings and paintings of the Australian landscape both urban and rural.
4. Where do you go in Australia when you want to feel inspired?
Wherever I am, I am always looking for inspiration – the everyday – I can get inspired form a disused railway yard  as I can from a spectacular view of the ocean from the cliff tops. Its all about the atmosphere and connecting with the detail.

5. How would you describe the Australian design scene?

Young – like a teenager.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Here is pretty good though trips back home to see the family are important.

Click here for more of Julie’s work.

Suggested For You


  • I’m very disappointed to see a regional roundup of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but not of Perth or the other cities. Australia has so much to offer in regards to design, it isn’t just centralised within those cities. I don’t even have enough fingers or toes for the amazing designers we currently have in Perth. So talented that they currently dress some of the biggest celebrities of the world.

  • Ali- I completely agree with you. But that is why this is an ongoing series. It’s impossible to feature everyone, so I like to think of this first set of posts as a starting point on australian design. I did tons of research and asked designers for suggestions, but I’ll be the first to admit, I struggled when it came to Perth. But that is where you come in – I’d love to hear suggestions from you! Please enlighten us, and share some of these designers. I’d love to know more, and I’m sure there are more wonderful resources I have yet to discover!


  • clearly, before our ceramics designer goes to belize, he should make sure he knows its in central america and not south america. :)

    i will forgive his statement because, well, he does live very far away, and his work is beautiful! :)

  • hi anne,

    i’d just like to point you towards: http://www.madeontheleft.com
    and our blog: http://www.madeontheleft.blogspot.com

    ali and 4 other amazing girls started made on the left earlier this year in order to support west australian creative talent, and have already run one successful market with many more plans for the future.

    i’ve just become the newest member, so now we are a 6 strong team of west aussie women ready to do what it takes to help west aussies get their art out to the world!

    i really loved your series on australian design. now all you need to do is include the states you missed ;-)

    hugs beth

  • Awesome, Beth! Very cool. I look forward to seeing how the group continues to grow and develop… You have to remember for us in the US, all of Australia is uncharted territory (including the major cities), so had to start somewhere. And to think when I started this, it was just going to be on one Australian city! Ha! Just too much good stuff to share :)

    Thanks again!


  • We think Karena Colquhoun is incredibly talented and in fact we featured her as our illustrator of the week on our blog 2 weeks ago. Look forward to seeing lots more of her work in the future. Lovely!

  • Thanks for profiling Bison – I LOVE Brian’s creations and would have a house full of them if I could – I’m working on that.

    Brian is great to go and have a chat with too. It is great that he is often at his workshop and you can talk to him about his designs.

  • It’s been so fab to see such a broad range of Australian artists – thanks for a great round-up. I know you couldn’t possibly cover everyone but there’s a fantastic Sydney design company doing original textile designs called Prints Charming and I wondered whether you had any more info on them?

  • Thankyou for your entire roundup that you have done on Australia over the last few days. It is so wonderful to see that despite being SO far away, our work can be viewed, showcased and compete on a global level.

    I am so very proud of our australian art, craft & design scene. As a young country I think all of aussies should be so proud – our isolation makes us develop in a unique and wonderful way!

  • I’m in love with Karena works. I used to spend hours and hours examining her blog and her Etsy shop. I’d buy something soon!

  • Wow, love the simple lines and color options of Bison Home’s work! Hope the “shop online” section is up and running for the holidays :)

  • You don’t have to travel all the way to Oz to get your dinosaur designs – They have a store in NY.

    250 Mott St # 2
    New York, NY 10012
    (212) 219-8715

  • i just want to say THANK YOU so much for all this awesome information on Australia of late. We’re going to Australia for a month for our honeymoon at the end of October, and I can’t believe how lucky I am that you’ve just decided to share so much good info on so many of the cities we’ll be visiting! yay!

  • I have really loved your exploration of artists in Australia–I lived in Sydney and Adelaide for 4 years and the country holds a very dear place in my heart. I am glad you touched on Aboriginal artists, as well, but think it would be amazing if you could do a bit more extensive interviews with a couple Aboriginal artists, as they are so readily overlooked.

    Keep up the good work!

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