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16 Talented Artisans That Deserve Your Undivided Attention

TDF Design Awards

The best thing about The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards is that it recognises the detailed and intricate as much as the grand and fantastical. Both skill sets are equally impressive, and equally difficult to master!

The following artisans are specialists in their fields, from glassblowers and porcelain artists to jewellers and weavers. The shortlisted entries of the Handcrafted category in our 2021 Awards are 16 makers that definitely deserve the limelight.

9th September, 2021

Lucy Tolan pieces. Photography – Shelley Horan. Art Direction and Styling – Both.

Alison Frith ceramics plinth. Photo – Tania Bahr-Vollrath.

Lucy Tolan, Seams

The objective of Seams by ceramicist Lucy Tolan was to investigate technique and form through the construction and deconstruction of the vessel. The body of work explores the textile qualities of clay and convergence of materials through accentuated joins – seams.

See our feature on Lucy’s practice here.

Alison Frith, Ceramic Plinth

Inspired by the need for function yet the desire for considered design, Alison Frith created the Ceramic Plinth. Made entirely by hand, each plinth is wheel thrown, with composite pieces formed and joined together.

Precise attention was paid to weight and form to ensure the final piece could serves as a functional side table or a standalone sculptural object.

Georgina Proud ceramics. Photo – Georgina Proud.

Eun Ceramics. Right photo – Isabella King. Left photo – Jess Brohier.

Georgina Proud, Flotsam//Jetsam

Flotsam//Jetsam is a collection of clay vessels featuring embedded materials to create unique and distinct surfaces. In making the collection, ceramic artist Georgina Proud experimented with materials found on beaches throughout Victoria such as pebbles and sea glass, and investigated how these react to the ceramic process.

Eun Ceramics, Curved

Eun CeramicsCurved collective is an observation on societal norms. Irregular curves meeting the narrow neck opening, representing our individuality being suppressed or shaped to fit a status quo.

The unique style of ceramicist Jess Choi means each angle carries a different form and texture, creating new perspectives in the unusual clay bodies.

See our feature on Jess’ practice here.

Oh Hey Grace ceramics. Photo – Jess Brohier.

Oh Hey Grace, A Place To Call Home

A Place to Call Home is a collection of sculptures made from mid-fire glazed ceramics using a combination of sculpting, hand-building and wheel throwing by ceramicist Grace Brown. Sculpted utopian cityscapes and dwellings were developed in response to the often dystopian reality outside, particularly during 2020-21.

See our feature on Oh Hey Grace here.

Hamish Munro rings. Photo – Peter Ryle.

Left: Bioregional Rings by Kyoko Hahimoto. Photo – Kyoko Hashimoto. Right: Bioplastic Vessels by Jessie French. Photo – Pier Carthew. Art Director – Thalia Economo.

Hamish Munro, The Joan Series

The Joan Series by jeweller Hamish Munro consists of interchangeable, genderless rings designed around the precise geometry and angled position of individual stones. Pieces explore the removal of surface area within the ring, instead ‘subtracting’ from the classic form of a band and creating a dynamism between stones.

This collection represents a deviation and expansion on Hamish’s previous jewellery pieces as he broadens his experience with technique, process and familiarity with stone.

See our feature on Hamish’s practice here.

Kyoko Hashimoto, Bioregional Rings

This series of rings by Kyoko Hashimoto presents materials that can be found and processed locally in Sydney Basin bioregion. Raw materials include Hawkesbury sandstone conglomerated in the earth 250 million years ago, and coal from the Illawarra Coal Measures that formed in geological strata several kilometres deep below the sandstone.

The body of work intends to define a region by its environment and earthly yield rather than the borders imposed by humankind.

Other Matter, Algae Bioplastic Vessels

Tempering aesthetic beauty with future thinking, Other Matter has generated a collection of bioplastic tableware made using algae polymers and pigments. These aesthetically striking pieces reminiscent of glass are recyclable, biodegradable, and can be composted in a home system.

Other Matter is the studio founded by artist Jessie French. Her solo practice explores speculative futures and material boundaries through work with algae-based bioplastics. Her research into seaweed supply chains has taken her from artist residencies in Morocco to group shows in New York City.

See our feature on Jessie’s practice here.

Left: Liam Fleming glass. Photo – Josephine Briginshaw. Right: Jenna M Lee works. Photo – Henry Trumble.

Liam Fleming, Post-Production

Glassworker Liam Fleming’s practice combines mould-blowing and cold lamination. In Post-Production, he subjects objects to a rough surface treatment, fusing them at high temperatures in a kiln, then joining them in a manner at odds with the precision of cold lamination. The glass slumps and warps, collapsing under its weight and expanding with pressure.

The body of work was created as part of ‘Preliminary Strcutures’, a group show of seven designers curated for Melbourne Design Week 2021. The makers represented contemporary glass and ceramic work, displaying non-traditional and interpretive structures for their media.

Jenna M Lee, Body Language

Jenna M Lee is an artist and graphic designer living in Melbourne, whose highly symbolic work seeks to reclaim agency over the historic representation of Aboriginal people in Australia.

Using pages from the colonial text ‘Aboriginal Words and Place Names’, the artist created three dilly bags embellished with red silk thread and glass beads. The paper-based pieces in the Body Language series explore the relationships between cultural objects and adornments as an extension of the body; the body itself as an extension of Country and language; and Country, language and body as elemental factors of connection and healing.

Left: Sarah Rayner + Sophie Carnell works. Photo – Greg Piper. Right: Jan Vogelpoel ceramics. Photo – Jan Vogelpoel.

Sarah Rayner + Sophie Carnell, Florilegium

Porcelain artist Sarah Rayner and silversmith Sophie Carnell collaborated to create 42 small handcrafted sculptural works inspired by the complexity and richness of native flora. The duo’s chosen materials of porcelain and silver have been morphed from inert matter into 3D works.

Initially driven by a passion for the natural environment and the process of collection, the pieces en masse represent the poetry of flowers. The series is tactile, sensual and compelling.

Jan Vogelpoel Ceramics, Future Curve, Space Cadet and Curve

These three ceramic pieces are inspired by the curves of the Glebe House designed by Chenchow Little, and the Taal monument designed by Jan van Wijk. Restrained forms allow the form, curves and clay to work their magic without overworking or overthinking the design or the process.

Jan Vogelpoel‘s forms are undulating, organic and honest.

See our feature on Jan’s practice here.

Left: Photo – Polly Wright. Right: Photo – Ferro Forma Studio.

Erin.k jewellery + Koorie Tales, Source of Life + Essence at Dusk

Jewellery label erin.k jewellery created two collections featuring artist Holly McLennan-Brown of Koorie Tales’ artwork. Pieces convey elements of Holly’s Yorta Yorta culture, with the intent of making Indigenous art more accessible.

5% of sales from pieces in the collection are donated to Koorie Heritage Trust.

Alison Jackson & Dan Lorrimer, Flow Form Vases

Flow Form Vases by Alison Jackson and Dan Lorrimer (now Ferro Forma studio) blend small-scale metalsmithing production techniques with one-of-a-kind artwork processes to create a series of unique tableware objects. Complex hydraulic pressing tools allow the initial tubular form (in either brass or stainless steel) to be pressed repeatedly along its length, each time changing the surface.

Once formed, a multi-step finishing sequence layers the surface of each piece with a unique patina.

Left: Artist Alicia Marrday with her work. Photo – Marrawuddi Arts & Culture. Right: Erraarnta (red-tailed black cockatoo) by Rona Rubuntja of the Hermannsburg Potters. Photo – Hermannsburg Potters.

Alicia Marrday of Marrawuddi Arts & Culture, Baladjdji (Backpack)

Artist Alicia Marrday independently created this woven backpack with the support of community arts centre Marrawuddi Arts & Culture. Combining both ancient and traditional methods, the large and bright piece is an example of phenomenal weaving mastery. All materials are natural including Kunngobarn (pandanus) and Kala (natural dye) collected on Country.

Alycia says: ‘Maybe my kids give me idea, Anita. My kids really love the backpacks weavings. I look at the backpacks my kids have and try weave same pockets. I just used it from my own mind, I get the kala (colour) from my partner’s homeland.’

Rona Rubuntja of Hermannsburg Potters, Selected Works

Rona Rubuntja of the Hermannsburg Potters’ joyous style is distinctive, humorous and imaginative. Rona is a deaf and non-verbal person, and uses the medium of pottery to tell stories of her life. Each of these works emanate joy while depicting contemporary life in Ntaria (Hermannsburg community) and speaking to Western Aranda values.

The Hermannsburg Potters are an artist collective established in 1992 and has grown to nearly 20 artists. The artists paint stories of the surrounding Country, community, animals and memories of family onto the surface of their hand-built terracotta pots, topping each piece with a figurative sculpture. The works are vibrant, cheeky, purposeful and original, displaying a deep knowledge of Country, and a playful, vivid view of contemporary desert life.

See our feature on the Hermannsburg Potters here.

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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