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The 10 Creative Collaborations That Knocked Our Socks Off!

TDF Design Awards

There is so much to be gained through the power of collaboration – when multiple creative brains get together to produce something new, the possibilities are magic!

Each of the 10 finalists in the Collaboration category of the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021 have elevated each other’s work to new heights – from a saddle maker in Fitzroy Crossing working with a furniture designer in coastal NSW, to a city-wide floral project designed to bring hope to Melburnians emerging from a long lockdown, these projects demonstrate the powerful outcomes that can come from creative collaboration!

The winner from this shortlist, as judged by Amanda Henderson of Gloss Creative, renowned artist Tyrone ‘Rone’ Wright, and Jirra Lulla Harvey of Kalinya Retreats, will be unveiled at our awards presentation in October! Thank you so much to our category sponsors, Thames & Hudson, for making this possible.

26th August, 2021

Photo – Renee Johnstone

Photo – Christian Koch

Twoobs + Cungelella Art, Cungelella Art x Twoobs

A three-piece footwear collection of classic TWOOBS silhouettes, a popular Australian footwear brand, have printed with contemporary artwork by Glenda McCulloch, a proud descendant of the Kalkadoon people from the Mount Isa region in Queensland. Glenda is the founder of Indigenous artist collective Cungelella Art.

$5 from every pair sold is donated to Injilinji Preschool & Kindergarten in Mount Isa – a local kindergarten selected by Glenda. And hot tip…they’ve just been restocked!

Ikuntji Artists + Publisher Textiles, Clothing Collection

An ongoing collaboration between Ikuntji artists and Publisher Textiles sees paintings of Country and Dreaming by artists practising at the Central Desert arts centre screen-printed onto contemporary fashion pieces. Expansion into clothing has opened a new revenue stream for the Ikuntji artists as well as an opportunity for professional development in garment-making skills.

Photo – Molly Heath

Photo – Supplied by Gorman.

Amber Days + Arkie Barton, Wanala Collection

Founded by proud Yorta Yorta and Boonwurrung woman Corina Muir, Amber Days is an apparel label that is inspired by the Australia bush, desert and sea. The Aboriginal-owned, female-led label collaborated with Aboriginal artist Arkie Beaton on a playful print depicting floral energy in bright bursts of colour.

CASTLE + Gorman Playground, Rachel Castle For Gorman Playground

Designer Rachel Castle has teamed up with Gorman on a line of children’s clothing.  New and existing CASTLE designs have been re-crafted and made into of gender-neutral clothing and accessories that embody the fun and joyful CASTLE ethos!

Photo  – Kristoffer Paulsen

Photo – PEW PEW Studio 

John Wardle Architects + Ash Keating Studio, Solar Pavilion

The Solar Pavilion is one of 15 pilot projects by leading Australian architects commissioned by Finding Infinity for ‘A New Normal’: a comprehensive plan for Melbourne to become a fully self-sufcient city by 2030. John Wardle Architects designed a network of outdoor structures atop an inner-city rooftop that doubles as a cultural events space and surface area for solar electricity generation. Artist Ash Keating created the mural overlooking it.

SKEEHAN Studio + ROU House, ROU House

ROU House is a new design studio founded by stylist and curator Rachel Byron and industrial designer Tom Skeehan. The studio was born from the desire to create a curated collection of meaningful products that celebrate materiality and highlight the value of good design. Through close collaboration and engagement with Australian manufacturers and local design talent, ROU seeks to nurture and promote the growth of the industry on our shores – a vision made only more vital after a year of international challenge.

Among ROU’s flagship products is the Peak Inverted Incense Burner: a handcrafted aluminium holder that conceals the burning stick at the apex of the vessel while ash collects in the base

Photo – Derek Swalwell

Please Please Please + Bergman & Co., Poodle

Tasked with designing a ‘new neighbourhood local’ within a double-fronted terrace on Melbourne’s iconic Gertrude Street, Bergman & Co. sought to create a unique identity for the hospitality venue, differentiated from its established neighbours. A key tenet in achieving this vision was to create bespoke elements to bring Poodle’s imaginative interior identity to life.

As life partner to Bergman & Co. director Wendy Bergman, Paul Grummisch of Please Please Please became a key collaborator, developing and executing an expansive collection of signature ‘Poodle’ pieces.

Drawing on the much-loved character of Fitzroy and the clients‘ Italian heritage, the design team developed a narrative around authenticity, effortlessness, and nostalgia. References to the classic Italian diner were interwoven with hints at the 20th century Aussie-Italian suburban experience.

Trent Jansen Studio + Johnny Nargoodah, Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection

The Walmajarri phrase ‘Ngumu Jangka Warnti’ meaning ‘whole lot from rubbish’, is the title of a furniture collaboration between Nyikina man and saddler, Johnny Nargoodah, and furniture/object designer, Trent Jansen

The collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. The duo designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Johnny and Trent created their designs remotely, developing a collaborative ‘sketch exchange’ system to ferry prototype designs between Johnny’s home in Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia, and Trent’s on the south-east coast of NSW.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix

Flowers Vasette, Urban Blooms

Flowers Vasette created ‘Arch of Celebration / Arch of Resilience’ for ‘Urban Blooms’ – a project in partnership with the City of Melbourne’s Recovery Fund to celebrate the reopening of Victoria post lockdown in November 2020. 

This project was developed in collaboration between the creative teams at Flowers Vasette with their growers, suppliers, and several other businesses significantly impacted by drought and bushfires, and Covid in the recent years.

Flowers Vasette worked from 11.30pm to 5am over four consecutive nights to create and install this magnificent structure, which features over 1300 stems of natives, foliage and flowers installed on an impressive 18 metre linear archway. Showtech constructed, engineered and installed the impressive scaffold, standing in front of the Flinders Street Station archway. 

The project is the largest architectural floristry activation in the City of Melbourne’s history. 

Mud Australia + APY Art Centre Collective, Mud x APY

2020 marked the beginning of Mud Australia’s partnership with APY Art Centre Collective – a group of 10 Indigenous-owned and governed enterprises that work with a united vision on strategic collaborative projects.

Mud Australia partnered with artists from the collective to produce 30 hand painted Mud ceramics that sold out within 10 minutes.  

This ongoing partnership endeavours to help bring work and industry to the remote communities of the APY lands. 80% of all sales go directly to the artists, with 20% being reinvested into not-for-profit projects handled by the APY Art Centre Collective.

The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2021 Collaboration Award is presented by Thames & Hudson.

As the country’s leading publisher of illustrated art and design books, Thames & Hudson know the power of a great creative collaboration! Click here to browse their range of titles across all areas of visual creativity. 

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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. Please email