On 18 February one of the greats of Australian design passed away quietly in Melbourne. Janne Faulkner, AM was a dynamic and visionary designer who led the vanguard of change to modern interior design in our country.
Faulkner was born in Tasmania in 1933 and, although she received no formal training in design, was led by her passion and interest in architecture and the arts. In the mid-60s Faulkner with her children and husband Bill moved to Melbourne and so her stellar career began.
A fortuitous meeting with David Yencken in 1967 resulted in an offer to work with Merchant Builders, which produced innovative houses that were designed to suit the Australian landscape, something unusual for the time. Faulkner created her own style and initiated a policy of purchasing the best of Australian contemporary art, fostering young Australian artists, furniture designers and craftsmen, and through these actions helped to create the Australian interior aesthetic of today.
While at Merchant Builders Faulkner worked with an exciting group of creatives that included Yencken, Graeme Gunn, John Ridge, Daryl Jackson, Ellis Stones, Evan Walker and graphic designer Bruce Weatherhead, and these collaborations introduced a new era of design to the community at large.
In 1974 Nexus Designs was established with Faulkner as sole director. The relationship with Merchant Builders continued as the practice was appointed to furnish display houses. In 1975 Harley Anstee joined Nexus Designs and so a deep friendship and exceptional professional affiliation was born, which translated to continued success for the practice.
“Janne was an incredible woman who passionately believed in Australian design, art and colour. In her 50-year career she never wavered from this philosophy and many of her interiors reflect this passion coupled with a wonderful sense of humour and joy.” – Harley Anstee
Over her long and vibrant career Faulkner worked with Daryl Jackson on many commercial projects and later formed an association with Philip Cox, working on the Yulara Resort project.
“Janne Faulkner was a great woman, a great wife, a great mother, a great Australian, who furthered the advancement of an Australian image, a person who appreciated and explored the landscape of Australia and, inspired by this, her work was unique. She encouraged Australian artists, sculptors and landscapers to develop their own art into a distinctive Australian idiom that expresses the essence of being Australian. We will miss her greatly.” – Philip Cox
Nexus Designs, through Faulkner’s guidance, developed a reputation as one of the best interior design companies that could take a brief from an architect and interpret it well. In recognition of her contribution to design and the arts, Faulkner was awarded the Order of Australia in 1982.
In 2011 she passed the mantle of creative director of Nexus Designs to Sonia Simpfendorfer, who continues to promote the values and standards that her predecessor established.
“There was a depth in Janne. She read widely and deeply and her interests were diverse. She always wanted to know everything that was going on and she brought an intensity of knowledge to the practice that continues to this day.” – Sonia Simpfendorfer
Janne Faulkner continued her involvement with her beloved Nexus until very recently. As a designer, she progressed the practice to the pinnacle of success and was witness to the preeminent standing in which it is held within the architecture and design community.
“Janne was a respected, influential and early leader in design excellence in our country. For me, it is the end of an inspiring era in the Australian design industry.” – Sue Carr
We celebrate the life of Janne Faulkner and offer our gratitude for her many contributions – her love of colour, her outstanding interiors, her style and intrinsic good taste, and the role model that she will always be as a talented and intelligent woman of design.
Janne Faulkner, AM
Jan Henderson and Gillian Serisier