Blak Design Matters – Exhibition Branding


  • Marcus Lee Design
  • Greenaway Architects


At its very essence, exhibition branding is the most important means of communications to attract visitors to an exhibition. The branding for the Blak Design Matters exhibition (BDM) launched by the Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) on 21 July, had to be far more accountable. BDM itself was conceived to address the question why blak design should matter in contemporary design thinking. The BDM branding is critical to conveying this message whilst attracting audiences to the show. The BDM branding was successfully conceived by Marcus Lee Design and is currently being used in all marketing and promotional activities.

Key Features


BDM is the first national survey exhibition of contemporary Indigenous design. BDM was conceived as wholly Indigenous-led initiative from curation and exhibition design to catalogue writers. A critical part of this was to also ensure that the exhibition branding be conceived and created by an Indigenous graphic designer.

In conceiving the BDM branding, Director Marcus Lee of Marcus Lee Design, an award winning Melbourne based Indigenous owned graphic design agency, has created a design that not translates across a myriad of communication mediums but also reflects a contemporary take on traditional Aboriginal design values.


The Victorian Minister for Creative Industries launched BDM to the public on 12 July at an evening event. In the lead up to the launch, KHT invested heavily in a marketing and communications campaign featuring the predominant use of the BDM brand. This included print advertising and online listings in industry magazines and journals, placement of exhibition posters around Federation Square where the KHT is located, banner images on social media posts and presentation decks. Admittedly it is still early days to judge the impact of the campaign, but preliminary feedback and visitation already attests to a successful branding campaign.


BDM requires much from its branding. It needs to attract the attention to engage visitors, tell the story behind the exhibition, be translated and easily recognisable across all marketing and communications collateral and initiatives and as importantly, if not more so, be a stand-alone testament to why blak design really does matter. Marcus Lee Design has successfully accomplished this. Elements of the design can be seen at the core of the exhibition install including, flooring, exhibition furniture and the cover of the exhibition catalogue, and is a recognisable and will be a critical part of the BDM success.


The BDM branding captures the essence of the KHT’s physical location in Melbourne. The fractal geometric shapes reflect Federation Squares’ inherent architectural style, whilst integrating contemporary expressions of the unique geometry of South-Eastern Aboriginal traditional engraving styles (there are no dots down here).

The recurring colourful shapes of the brand symbolise the confluence of exhibiting designers coming together from across Australia, showcasing their collective creative talent and etching a moment in time for Indigenous contemporary design. The brand design fragments populates throughout the exhibition, communications and catalogue – unifying the unique, and diverse talent of Indigenous design.


In the opening paragraph to his BDM exhibition catalogue essay, Dr Jefa Greenaway, BDM guest curator and director of Greenaway Architects, writes that “over the past decade or so … there has been a discernible and increasing appetite for revealing and understanding the contributions of Indigenous peoples across a range of creative endeavours. Coupled with this has been a desire to engage in meaningful ways by embracing and giving visibility to Indigenous cultures”. This paragraph succinctly captures the sensibility and spirit of the BDM brand as conceived and developed by Marcus Lee Designs.

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