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Culture and Design

Early last year, we attended a Design Institute of Australia (DIA) event in Sydney, where a selection speakers from various Australian design and architecture practices shared their experiences working on their recent projects. One agency spoke about how after ten years of operation, they worked on their first overseas project in Japan.

Probably because I’ve been living and working overseas on and off for the past 20 years, I hadn’t really given much thought to what it’s like to make the transition from working in your local market, to going further afield, and dipping your toe into the bigger global pool.

I know when I started working overseas, the term culture took on a whole new meaning. Whereas before, culture to me was something that happened at the opera or the ballet, I’ve since realised that culture happens as a byproduct of shared priorities. When a group of people come together with like-minded beliefs, then habits and rituals are created to support and protect those beliefs.



How a culture is created requires any multiple of working parts, and geographical could be the original foundation for how any culture is born. But within the confines of physical space, or land, or countries, there are multiple layers of sub-cultures that shape a society.

Last September when the National Gallery of Victoria put out the call for submissions for Melbourne Design Week 2020, they listed five main themes that will underpin the program, and as luck would have it, Design Culture is one of those five themes.

It was thinking back to the talk early last year that led me to think about how could we share our international experience to designers and agencies that haven’t made the jump to the international stage, but are thinking about it. I know I could have definitely saved myself some time in the beginning if I knew how important culture is when we sit at the design table.


Melbourne Design Week runs March 12-22, and on March 18, we’ll be joining Dan Neville – Goodss Agency, Katherine Kemp – Zwei Interiors Architecture and Scott Bampton – Gray Puksand, to share our experiences working on international retail, hospitality and commercial interior design projects globally. If you’re in town, we’d love to see you there.


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