Blak Design

When I see a work of art or design by one of our people, I see an invitation to join them on a journey. I take myself inside, attempting to unwrap the layers. This art is precious and I want to understand what it is trying to tell me. I want to feel the message it contains … Blak design is critical and integral for remembrance and reflection Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin, Wurundjeri Elder and Traditional Owner

Blak Design is an exciting initiative to support our First Nations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, craftspeople and designers living in Victoria, through a targeted professional development and mentoring program. Developed in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria and RMIT University, and generously supported by the Ian Potter Foundation, the Program aims to foster First Nations cultural innovation within the Victorian design sector underpinned by the International Indigenous Design Charter – Protocols for sharing Indigenous Knowledge in professional design practice.

Extending over four years, the Program will focus each year on a design discipline, providing intensive mentoring in design, production, and small business skills to nurture long-term sustainable design practices.

When we consider the history of design and how it has materialised a way of thinking about covering up and conquering with no relationality with or on Place, Blak Design reconfigures thisProfessor Brian Martin 1

In 2021 the spotlight was on supporting contemporary jewellery design, the output from which can be seen in Blak Jewellery, Finding Past · Linking Present. The focus on First Nations jewellery design will continue in the 2nd year of the program in 2022. We will be recruiting for the 2023 program in mid 2022 through an Expression of Interest process. If you have any queries or would like to register your interest to be contacted once EOIs open, please contact Gail Harradine, KHT Curatorial Manager, on 0458 672 176 or email or Blak Design coordinator and alumni of the 2021 program Sharn Geary also by email.

Blak Design is proudly supported by the Ian Potter Foundation, and has been developed in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria and RMIT University. We also acknowledge the generous support of the Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne and Federation Square.

Join us in a journey towards a First Nations led design industry transformation.

Good design translates values into tangible experience. Great design, however, translates those values into meaningful social change. Dori Tunstall, Dean of Design, OCAD University, Toronto

Blak Design alumni talk about their practice.

  1. ‘Blak Design – Becoming From Place’ in exhibition catalogue, Blak Jewellery, Finding Past · Linking Present,  Koorie Heritage Trust,  4 September 2021 – 27 February 2022.[]

Image: Maree Clarke, Thung-ung Coorang (Kangaroo teeth necklace) collection. Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.