Blak Design Matters Exhibition


  • Koorie Heritage Trust
  • Greenaway Architects


On 21 July, the Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) launched Blak Design Matters (BDM) in collaboration with Jefa Greenaway of Greenaway Architects. BDM showcases contemporary Indigenous designs across Australia revealing the diversity of our Indigenous design talent. The first ever showcase, BDM challenges pre-conceptions of Indigenous design.

From interior and furniture design to landscape, architecture and town planning, textiles, fashion and jewellery, BDM defines and interrogates what and why blak design matters in Australia’s contemporary design landscape and demonstrates that blak design traverses the design spectrum with innovation and creativity, paying homage to place and history.

Key Features


BDM addresses the largely unacknowledged impact Indigenous design and designers have on contemporary design thinking. At the same time, BDM enables KHT to broaden its audience base beyond what can be offered through a standard visual arts exhibition, targeting and attracting the broader design industry, and asking and answering the question why blak design matters in contemporary design thinking. BDM also validates study and career opportunities for Indigenous peoples who have an interest in a design career but are hesitant in taking the next step ultimately building the profile and number of Indigenous peoples in the design industry.


As a bold and disruptive, first of its kind survey exhibition, BDM profiles and elevates Indigenous designers by posing and answering the question of why blak design matters. It also introduces the KHT and Greenaway Architects to new audience and client markets, with positive impact on business performance already seen through major sponsorships from Melbourne University, Lend Lease and the Metro Tunnel project, that will include broader public design collaborations beyond the exhibition. There is also an opportunity for the exhibition to be profiled internationally in the Business of Design Week Hong Kong in December 2018 and Paris Design Summit 2019.


With Melbourne poised to be the epicentre of an Indigenous led design revolution, the KHT is already exploring opportunities within the broader design community to capitalise on the publicity generated by the exhibition, and to develop further Indigenous design led projects to discover and mentor Indigenous designers, particularly young and emerging designers. Working collaboratively and in partnership with key design initiatives such as the National Gallery of Victoria in the annual presentation of Melbourne Design Week is already an integrated part of KHT programming activities, and will contribute to the KHT and Victoria as national leaders for Indigenous design initiatives.


BDM’s greatest strength is that it is a wholly Indigenous-led initiative, from the curation and exhibition design to the graphic design, to the Indigenous profile of the catalogue authors. The all-encompassing Indigenous profile provides a culturally authentic and visually exciting exhibition, rich in all forms of Indigenous cultural expressions such as use of stone referencing place and country, the exhibition display system reflecting traditional Victorian Aboriginal design markings and the exhibition lighting a subverted view of traditional ochre palette. As the first national survey, BDM is a benchmark for the curation and development of future Indigenous design exhibitions and projects.


BDM is the culmination of a series of Indigenous design projects the KHT has undertaken since 2014. These projects have cultivated a network of contacts with the same ambition to promote Indigenous design principles and best practice methods to the broader design community. These collaborative projects, have also built an audience with an appetite and interest in the ethics and principles of Indigenous design to incorporate into their design thinking but also to support broader Indigenous self-determination aspirations and expressions. Nowhere is this better seen than through BDM’s corporate sponsors including Lend Lease and the Metro Tunnel project.

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