It was tempting to stay small this year after the ups-and-downs of 2020 made us feel cautious about taking on too much, but in the end, we decided to just go for it!
We kicked off 2021 with a super exciting and brand new project – The Design Files Kids Art Awards. Partnering with Honan to raise funds for Children’s Ground (an organisation providing education support for First Nations children), we held a month-long online art awards program across five age groups. And the enthusiasm was huge! We received over 1,300 entries, which our judges Ken Done, Beci Orpin and Reko Rennie had to adjudicate. It was exactly the sort of uplifting project we needed to kick off the year – and the calibre of talent out there amongst all the kids was seriously amazing!
The winner in our under 5 years category was Molly Wattle Boney, a young artist so talented we decided to follow up with a feature on her whole family! This heartwarming story about the legacy of artistic traditions that runs generations deep in Molly’s family was just one example of many stories profiling First Nations creatives we have featured this year: from young painters Mia Boe and Thea Anamara Perkins (who both recently received the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship!) to florist Shahn Stewart of Alchemy Orange, fibre artist Delvene Cockatoo Collins and Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey of Aboriginal Art Co. – the couple behind an exciting art and retail space in Brisbane. It’s our honour and joy to feature these creatives and their stories, and you love reading them too! There’ll be a lot more of that to come in 2022, so stay tuned.
The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards are arguably the biggest night in TDF’s annual calendar, and this year we recruited a whole lot of special guests to bring some serious star quality to our online awards ceremony! Thank you to everyone who tuned in, and to Brett Sutton, Troye Sivan, Melissa Leong et al for their generous contributions on the night, and to the radiant Clare Bowditch for co-hosting with me! It made for an extra special night for all our nominees – all 129 of them! As you know, our design awards is a very diverse program – this year amongst the finalists we had everything from cross-country, cross-cultural collaborations to homewares handmade from algae-based bioplastics. The creativity and innovation was through the roof. I’m determined to do an IRL ceremony next year so we can celebrate it all in person!
Speaking of innovation and creativity, it was a crazy year to embark on another season of TDF Talks, but once again, the challenges of the times pushed us to expand our thinking, and with the help of online software and our remote audio editor, we were able to record so many excellent episodes this year. I love our podcast because it’s the only long form piece of content we do – and it’s such a treat to sit down with makers, founders and creative entrepreneurs for a long and decent chat. Highlight episodes include Louise Olsen of Dinosaur Designs, designer Sarah Ellison, Pip Newell of Curated Spaces, Yasmine Ghoniem of YSG Studio, Jirra Lulla Harvey of Kalinya, and Elle Roseby, Managing Director of Country Road. See all the episodes here.
It was another sell-out year for TDF Collect, with our excellent community coming together to support three art exhibitions (only one of which we could actually open to the public!). Emerging artist Amalia Keefer and fan favourites Maggie Green and Emma Currie all had sell out shows! We’ve got brand new artists coming in the first half of 2022 – so keep an eye on the site for details about our upcoming shows.
When it comes to our client work, there were two partnerships this year that really stood out, and that I was thrilled to be a part of, both personally and professionally. Our good friends at Laminex made a long-time TDF dream come true with One Room Wonders – our first ever home makeover series! Over four instalments, we transformed a sitting room, kids room and two bedrooms with Surround by Laminex panelling, fresh paint colours and with pieces by local makers. Victoria’s lockdowns really had us on our toes producing this series… but we got there in the end, and it was SO fun! You can revisit the series here.
Also, I was thrilled this year to be approached by David Jones to be one of their ‘Friends of David Jones’ for 2021. Pinch me! As part of this dream partnership, this year I’ve given a tour of my own house (gah!), tips for how to set an epic festive dinner table, I’ve shared my ultimate working from home set-up and even a beauty shoot (who am I?!). It’s been SUCH a fun thing to do and has really pushed me out of my comfort zone (in a good way) – thankyou so much to you all for your wonderful support of this partnership, it really means so much!
On a personal note, I’m so sad to be farewelling two key staff members this year. I’ve learnt over the years that like any business, TDF is forever evolving – but still, it never gets easier saying goodbye to beloved friends and colleagues! We will greatly miss our brilliant Managing Editor, Sally Tabart, who has been with us almost five years and is moving on to new self initiated projects in 2022. Sally’s brilliant personality and eternally positive vibes are the glue that hold us all together, not to mention her epic management of our relentless content schedule, as well as our TDF Collect program. You’re one-in-a-trillion Sally, and we’ll miss you forever!
We’re also saying goodbye to TDF’s Junior Editor, Sasha Gattermayr in the new year, after two prolific years in our editorial team. From the moment Sasha came to us, she really hit the ground running – she’s a wizard wordsmith, and on a per-story basis, she contributes more written content to TDF each week than anyone else in our team! Separately, she’s also been invaluable at producing our podcast this year. Sasha is returning to study next year, and she’s also the co-founder of soon-to-be-iconic Tart Magazine (Issue 1 coming so soon!) – safe to say, she’s destined for great things, and we’ll be right here cheering from the sidelines!
And again, of course, to our readers – a massive thankyou. We wouldn’t be here without you! Thank you to our ever loyal, ever enthusiastic community. Everything we do is for you, and equally, your support does everything for us. Thank you for your feedback, your comments, your generosity, your love and support for the artists, designers and emerging creatives we feature, and for your staunch support of everything we do. We can’t wait to bring you new exhibitions, events, artists, stories and spaces next year.
Until then, happy holidays, stay safe – and see you in 2022!