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Seven Standout Emerging Creatives of 2021

Creative People

The best thing about doing what we do, is that we’re constantly on the hunt for the next big thing – and we’ve gotten pretty good at discovering emerging Australian creatives over the years.

From political art practices to pandemic pivot projects, these are just a handful of the artists, designers and makers who inspired us most in 2021.

7th January, 2022

Beautiful textiles by Oat Studios. Photo – Jenny Wu.

Sarah Annand of Oat Studio’s designs are printed digitally onto fabrics which are suitable for upholstery, cushions or soft furnishings. Photo – Jenny Wu.

The resulting geometric patterns are realised in soft tonal palettes, with lots of greens, browns, and creams. Photo – Jenny Wu.

Oat Studio

For Sarah Annand, textiles are the medium that fuses all her creative loves together. Her brand Oat Studio is a way for the designer to unite photography, painting and architecture in fabric design.

Sarah’s textile designs are a culmination of decade of experience in the local fabric industry, a degree in art history and her love for Canberra’s modernist architecture. An unexpected trifecta!

Read the full story here

Camille Laddawan in her studio, located at the front of the old shop she lives in in Collingwood. Photo – Roslyn Orlando.

A warped and shaggy finished piece. Photo – Camille Laddawan.

Threading beads onto the loom. Photo – Roslyn Orlando.

Camille Laddawan

Behind an innocuous shopfront on Johnston Street, Collingwood, artist Camille Laddawan threads coloured glass beads methodically along a wooden loom, to create small patterned tapestries. She’s 18 months into this precise and rhythmic practice, spending her days considering colour, pattern and even her own alphabet in the designs for new pieces.

Camille’s current body of work, her first one, is dedicated to her family. By collecting personal documents spanning three generations from as far and wide as Perth, Thailand, Vietnam, Iran, Nepal, Greece, London and Melbourne, she has enshrined messages and fragments of letters into her colourful beaded artworks.

Read the full story here

Mia’s new Brunswick studio is filled with light, and is the perfect space to continue on her growing portfolio of work. Photo  – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Butchalla-Burmese artist Mia Boe in her light-filled studio. Photo  – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

One of Mia’s works in progress.

Mia Boe

Without a doubt, Mia Boe is one of the most exciting emerging artists we’ve come across in recent times.

Spurred by historical inquiry, and the history of dispossession on both sides of her family heritage, the Butchulla-Burmese artist paints with a passionate sense of purpose. She depicts electric Australian scenery, interpolated with languid, dragging figures who are often imprisoned, or kept company by animals, food or spirits. She tackles enormous political issues, historical contexts and violent themes with colour and energy, creating worlds that are vibrant, emotive, bold and sometimes even playful.

Mia paints to reclaim the stories of the past, and in doing so, forges her own. Remember her name – she’s going to be big!

Read the full story here

Ruby (left) and Emma (right) packing orders and doing brand things. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

From start to finish, one of the Dante two-toned candles takes about five hours to complete. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Blazed Wax

Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri are best friends who have lived together for five years, and have both watched one another grow seperate small businesses in that time.

During the extended lockdowns of 2020, the enterprising pair experimented with at-home candle-making to satisfy their creative cravings, and it worked so well that they winged it and launched a fledgling brand to sell their colourful, handmade creations. Blazed Wax was more than an overnight sensation; the first drop of candles sold out just hours after their website went live!

Read the full story here

Andy Kepitis and Lara Fisher (Raf the pup), founders of P0LY Designs. Photography – Amelia Stanwix.

Every piece from P0LY Designs is customisable and made-to-order. Photography – Amelia Stanwix.

Andy and Lara grouting one of their tiled side tables. Photography – Amelia Stanwix.

P0LY Designs

The last couple of years have seen a new sub category of small businesses emerge in the design space. These are the businesses of people who lost their jobs, or whose workloads drastically decreased following the onset of the pandemic, and those who needed a creative outlet to keep their hands and brains busy during the many long months of lockdowns. One of those business is P0LY Designs, a pandemic pivot project founded by partners in love and life Lara Fisher and Andy Kepitis.

After 18 months of creating their tiled plinths, consoles and side tables from home, Lara and Andy have recently moved their fast-growing business to a beautiful new work space and studio in Fitzroy North. They’ve made more than 500 pieces to date!

Read the full story here

Megan tufting designs vertically! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Megan in the studio, surrounded by her own works. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Shaving the finished covers. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Trinket Solo

Megan McNeill’s first job out of uni was at a bed linen brand, where she worked 9-5, while also running her own independent fashion label, Rouda. She put out two collections, all whilst still working her full-time job, so it’s safe to say this Melbourne-based creative was born to be in textiles!

After a stint in London working for a print studio, Megan returned to Australia over a year ago and launched her own textile brand – Trinket Solo – all on her own.

Now, she designs and tufts her collection of rich, textural cushions, rugs and blankets from a warehouse space in Brunswick that she shares with a coterie of fab, women-led creative businesses. Living the dream!

Read the full story here

Photo – Hattie Molloy.

Photo – Hattie Molloy.

Nicole Lawrence

Nicole Lawrence is a master of materials. We first visited her in 2016 when, at just 22-years-old, she had launched a line of hand-pleated bags under the label Three Fold Studio.

Over the last few years, the industrial designer (and long-time Christopher Boots lighting employee!) has been working on her own new range of curvy, colourful lighting and furniture that celebrates both playfulness and functionality, with a massive emphasis on supporting the local industry.

As the winner of the Emerging Designer category in the 2021 TDF + Laminex Design Awards, it’s safe to say that Nicole is going places, if she isn’t already there!

Read the full story 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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.