Cultural Design

Culture provides the catalyst for Designer to create services and products that are fit for their context but also innovative and culturally sensitive.

Our role as designers hinges on integrating the socio-cultural factors that leads to the final outcome. Now more than ever, we need to be aware of the impact of culture.

Indigenous Designs

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Contemporary Designs of Australian Indigenous Artists

Contemporary Designs of Australian Indigenous Artists

One of the focuses of Janke and Frankel’s paper was, airing the indigenous communities’ concerns, regarding the appropriation of their art and cultural practice. The paper aims to bring to light a framework that can effectively address issues surrounding comodification of their culture, sale of secret/sacred objects and information on how to generate compensation or royalties.

Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights Report

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 It brings to light how within the dominant framework, current copyright laws do not provide the necessary protection for indigenous artists.

Current copyright laws do not recognise the importance of oral and visual stories which are passed down to Australian Indigenous artists by the elders in their respective communities. The intangible aspects of cultural heritage are not protected.Gray (Janke & Franke, 1998 p237) states:

There are many twists and turns to this particular issue, and we are reminded that if the “Mabo principle” was applied to contemporary non-traditional indigenous artists they would lose their rights to what is in essence at the heart of this debate, the right to connect and be empowered by what informs your culture and your experiences.In terms of aesthetics of power, we are reminded of the liminal space these artists occupy. If they adopt European art styles are they going to be protected? This section was a powerful read for me, as we are reminded that protecting just the traditional aspects of a culture would be an act of exclusion.

“…that the question of rights of Indigenous artists from a non-traditional background has not been canvassed to date”.

The collection of sites that were provided were an interesting mix. Once I reflected on what I was seeing, I saw the sites as strong examples of drawing on your heritage and culture.  The essence of who you are can empower you as an individual. It brings a different but valuable slant to a professional or artistic work. And of course it can act as an active node in creating a stronger connection to the larger traditional aspect of culture, however they are interpreted.

In reflection what has appealed to me most has been the sense of connection and empowerment that is nurtured when creative freedom is given to express your culture through your own unique lens without the weight of preconceptions of outsiders dictating what that should be.


  1. Janke, T., & Frankel, M. (1998). Our Culture: Our Future Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Part 1, pp. 1-44.
  2. Mia Mia Gallery, Retrieved from
  3. Simpson L, (2011) Gaawaa Miyay, Indigenous Contemprary Design, Retrieved from
  4. Sista Girl Productions, Retireved from

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