“If you look at traditional Aboriginal objects – like a boomerang or wumura – they are objects of sophisticated function; great beauty; are inherently sustainable; and also contain a spiritual layer, which is usually carved or painted onto it. This is what informs our practice today. To match the intent and talent of our ancestral designers is what we strive for. This is design from an Aboriginal perspective.” – Alison Page
Alison Page has a vision for the world where Aboriginal cultural stories give rise to everyday design projects. Working in architecture, interiors, jewellery and public art, Page champions the recognition of Aboriginal design as a perspective that honours the origin and intention of Aboriginal stories, and which adds value to design beyond aesthetics or pattern making.
As a descendant of the Walbanga and Wadi Wadi people of the Yuin nation, Page has worked with various urban and rural Aboriginal communities in the delivery of culturally appropriate architectural and design services. In March 2012, she launched the National Aboriginal Design Agency (NADA) – a design brokering service that creates social, cultural and economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities by connecting manufacturers with authentic cultural material. NADA is an innovative business model that incorporates what Page refers to as the “quadruple bottom line”: fostering cultural understanding. When creating the structure of NADA, Page applied ‘design thinking’ principles to craft an agency developed by, and for, the Aboriginal community.
Page’s exhibition in CUSP – The Sit Place – revisions the Australian home in light of Indigenous belonging, asking “What is Australian style and how does Aboriginality fit within the national design identity?” The installation transforms the nucleus of the home – the living room – into a space alive with cultural meaning. Furnished with everyday objects designed by artists and makers at NADA, the space is transformed into a place of congregation, where people share stories and communicate with loved ones. Each object displayed has a story to tell about the land and its people.