Asking, “What is Blak Design?” this First Nations-only forum calls on designers from all spheres of the design and artistic world to connect in a culturally safe space.

Bringing together leading First Nations curators, creatives, architects and academics, the Blak Design Matters forum invites renowned practitioners to speculate and imagine, yarn, collaborate and “explore the compelling narratives that First Nation culture holds, how Blak Design has adapted and evolved to find its voice, including the success stories but also the more difficult issues including around cultural appropriation,” says Tom Mosby, CEO of Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) which is presenting the forum.

Mandi Barton (Yorta Yorta, Barappa Barappa, Wemba Wemba) with Danin (Float) Necklace 2.

“First Nation design is not simply about aesthetics, it’s about values and ethics… design sovereignty is the authority and power to draw from our own values and ethics, our own stories and histories, in our own way, by our own hand,” writes Sarah Lynn Rees (Palawa, Plangermaireener) in the KHT 2018 exhibition catalogue, Blak Design Matters: National Survey of Contemporary Indigenous Design.

The forum will include a series of panel discussions and conversations, storytelling, Q&As plus a celebration of Blak Design through food and music at the end of the day. Panel discussions include:

  • What is Blak Design;
  • Ownership of identity;
  • Stories from KHT’s highly successful Blak Design Program;
  • Cultural appropriation and misappropriation;
  • New ways in benchmarking fashion sovereignty. 
Yasmin Silveira (Palawa), Unbroken Links 2022.

“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. I want to understand what it is trying to tell me. I want to feel the message it contains,” writes Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin in Blak Design Matters: National Survey of Contemporary Indigenous Design.

“Blak design is critical and integral for remembrance and reflection. This is a showcase of our respect and privilege of being part of the oldest continuous culture in the world, with a wealth of history like no other. This also reinforces the pride we take in where we come from and who we are,” says Aunty Joy.

Tracy Wise (Barkindji Ngiyampaa Maligundidj), Jahgany 2022.

Speaker details, forum partners and the forum program will be announced shortly. The Blak Design Forum is presented by the Koorie Heritage Trust in partnership with Creative Victoria. Supported by Fed Square.

Koorie Heritage Trust

Fred Kroh

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