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Above: cross-discipline designer Nicole Monks. Photo by Daniel Boud. All other photography by Boaz Nothman.
Sydney-based Indigenous designer Nicole Monks has released her latest furniture collection, Marlu, which means ‘kangaroo’ in her native language. The collection has been developed as part of the 2016 Arts NSW Indigenous Design Mentorship program under guidance by Top3 by Design founder Terri Winter. Marlu is an expression of Monks’ mixed English, Dutch and Aboriginal heritage.
Working across design and art, Monks was inspired by her Wajarri Yamatji heritage after taking a trip back to visit her 93-year-old ‘auntie’, where she learnt about her family history and great-grandmother’s renowned kangaroo tail stew.
Each of the pieces in the new collection draws on this Indigenous heritage, telling the story of lived experiences through the design – ‘wabarn-wabarn’ (bounce), ‘walarnu’ (boomerang) and ‘nyinajimanha’ (sitting together).
Expressing the significance of knowledge transfer and the role of memory transfer, which is so inherent within indigenous culture, this process has given Monks the opportunity to share her personal experience through design.
The aesthetic is characterised by seamless joins, clean and simplified lines and timbers. All of the pieces are made to order and individually customised, an additional reflection of the designer’s desire to promote sustainable design practices.
Other projects by Monks include ‘blackandwhite creative’, a business established in 2012 which works to promote cultural awareness and collaborative practice with Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and organisations. Blackandwhite creative weaves Indigenous philosophies of sustainability, innovation and collaboration into contemporary art and design projects.
Now in its eleventh year, Shaw Contract’s Design Awards program honors architecture and design firms that are changing the way people engage and interact with a space.