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These Are The Very Best Of Australia's Handcrafters and Makers!

TDF Design Awards

Despite its obvious shortcomings, 2020 has been a great year for handmade anything. Everyone is doing it! From sourdough starters to at-home pottery, the boom towards the amateur artisan has taken on new heights. With everyone housebound, who can blame us?

However, the 11 finalists shortlisted in the Handcrafted category of The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020 are far from rookies. These specialists are hugely talented craftspeople ranging from glass blowers to ceramicists, toothpaste sculptors (yep!) to First Nations textile artists. We are beyond proud of the diversity of mediums represented in this list!

Judges Amanda Dziedzic (who makes our INCREDIBLE glass trophies!), textile artist and weaver Elisa Carmichael and creative director of Anchor Ceramics, Bruce Rowe, have the joyous but difficult task ahead of them to crown a winner. Join us for a deeper dive into the nominees!

8th October, 2020

Liam Fleming, Graft Vase Series. Photo – Grant Hancock. Siân Boucherd, Oyster Shell. Photo – Yvonne Doherty.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 8th October 2020

Liam Fleming, Graft Vase Series

Though appearing separate, each mould-blown elements of these cubic glass vases is actually a distinct part,  fused with another to create a single, stacked body. To make these asymmetrical, geometric pieces, Liam Fleming uses the traditional incalmo (meaning ‘graft’ in a Venetian dialect) technique, wherein two or more elements made of different coloured glass are melded together to create one solid vessel. This process allow Liam to experiment with colour combinations in a contemporary composition, while still retaining a continuous form.

Liam draws on the colour theories of twentieth century artists Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian to explore how colour and form can aesthetically express the tempo of music. He makes all pieces with his assistant, Alex Valero, in Adelaide!

Siân Boucherd, Oyster Shell

This decorative sculpture is woven from organic fibres and mimics the flow of moving water.

In this self-initiated project, Siân Boucherd uses traditional basketry techniques to create a contemporary, amorphous form. The art object was made from raw raffia, hemp, sisal and wool which had been ethically or sustainably sourced. The soft, billowing shape recalls ancient natural formations which have been chiselled with the ebb and flow of time.

Tantri Mustika, Lithify. Photo – Boby Corica. Szilvassy, Aether. Photo – Emily Weaving.

Tantri Mustika, Lithify

The Melbourne-based ceramicist’s collection of opulent ceramic vases is a celebration of the complex chemical transformation that occurs when clay becomes solid rock. This process of turning sediment into stone is called lithification.

Tantri Mustika‘s series of large works were made using coils – a freeform sculpting technique in which lengths of pliable clay are wound into rings and stacked atop another to form the body of the vessel. Tantri initiated this ancient building technique alongside a process of clay handstaining, to illuminate the natural texture of her work. In this trip of ancient techniques, she aims to modernise a less popular side of her craft.

Szilvassy, Aether

Shari Lowndes of Szilvassy draws on science, Classical philosophy and cultural notions of place to explore spirituality through material form.

Inspired by her family’s migration to Australia in the wake of the 1952 coup d’état in Egypt, the Melbourne based ceramicist has discovered a deep connection to the Australian landscape. Inspired by this attachment, Shari has created 12 delicate, functional forms to express her relationship with the natural world. The earthen qualities of the Aether collection are explored through subtle variations in terracotta tones.

Daisy Watt and Samantha Seary, Holding Light. Photo – Daisy Watts.

Daisy Watt and Samantha Seary, Holding Light

This project by Daisy Watt and Samantha Seary tests the strength of two fragile materials when fused together as one.

In order to explore the intersection between cloth and glass, the pair of textile artists have created a handwoven textile of multi-layered cloth, which encases hand-cut and copper-wrapped coloured glass pieces within its delicate pockets. The construction of this new fabric compound is a study in raw materiality.

James Lemon, Pest Chairs. Photo – James Lemon. Kirsten Perry, The Lost Homes of Soft Boiled Beings. Photo – Kirsten Perry.

James Lemon, Pest Chairs

Created as part of an exhibition challenging designers to think about more radical solutions around recyclability and waste, James Lemon’s Pest Chairs offer new material and aesthetic possibilities within design.

Handbuilt from stoneware clay, glaze and toothpaste (!), these large-scale ceramic sculptures are an homage to humble yet sophisticated insect architecture such as anthills, termite mounds and beehives. These sculptures aim to shift the focus from the ‘humanness’ of design to preexisting natural structures.

Kirsten Perry, The Lost Homes of Soft Boiled Eggs

Influenced by mollusc shells and coral, Kirsten Perry’s underwater-inspired ceramic vessels are an experiment in texture, technique and scale. Using her own slip-cast plaster mouldings and a mid-fire glaze, Kirsten is able to create shapes otherwise impossible in handmade ceramics. Every fold, cut, slice and impression can be seen on the surface.

Georgina Proud, Glass Houses. Photo – Georgina Proud.

Georgina Proud, Glass Houses

Following her return from a ceramics residency in Japan, Georgina Proud set out to include found objects within her clay creations. In a bid to recreate the sea glass she uncovered while scavenging at the beach, she crafted smoothed glass shards from bottles found in her own recycling waste, to insert into her designs. She added pieces of this fake sea glass to her fine white porcelain forms, which then melted during the firing process to create a different coloured glaze.

By incorporating foraged rocks, ash and glass in her clay bodies, Georgina’s series of simple ceramic vessels highlights the harmonic effect of clashing materials and glazes.

Nicolette Johnson, Assemblage

It’s no secret that we’re BIG fans of Nicolette Johnson’s work, but recently, she’s taken her practice to another level.

Desperate to unlock the creative part of her brain that had stagnated during the lockdown period earlier this year, Nicolette began moulding shapes and objects out of clay to stick to small, hand thrown vases. These working pieces eventually became the larger, relic-like Assemblage vases.

The collection of coiled stoneware vessels with attached hand-formed sculptures are a continuation of her experimental oeuvre, yet something totally new unto themselves. Nicolette draws from the motifs of surrealist and constructivist art movements to create her designs.

Cut Throat Knives, Imprint. Photo – Rebecca Newman. Tjunkaya Tapaya of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Tjanpi Teapot. Photo – Isobel Egan.

Cut Throat Knives, Imprint

From the combined craftsmanship of a bladesmith and a leathersmith, Cut Throat kitchen knives are superbly balanced and customised down to the handle colour for each individual buyer. The Imprint collection is a series of bespoke metal utensils made from steel and polished timber, with the infinite options for size, colour and shape customisation. Each knife comes with a handmade leather sheath.

Tjunkaya Tapaya of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Tjanpi Teapot

Tjanpi Desert Weavers is an Indigenous governed and directed social enterprise of the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPYWC), which represents over 400 women artists from the NPY lands (a region across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia).

Tea is ever-present in the lives of Anangu (Aboriginal people) across the NPY lands. When making art, telling stories, facilitating a meeting, undertaking cultural ceremonies, or holding sorry camps – a fire is made and everyone drinks tea together. The teapot is where activities begin and end, and has become an object of great importance to the social fabric of community life.

Tjunkaya Tapaya’s ‘Tjanpi Teapot’ provides a playful representation of this important element of Anangu life. Her unique expression, form and exquisite use of colour demonstrates her mastery of weaving with native grasses and aptitude for funnelling social reflection through her craft.

We’re proud to partner with heritage Australian brand Laminex to realise The Design Files + Laminex Awards program 2020.  Laminex is Australia’s leading supplier of modern laminates, quality engineered stone, timber panelling and more. Find out more here.

Winners of the The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020 + Laminex will be announced November 5th!

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.