Design Storytellers: The Work of Broached Commissions

NGV Chen Lu, Dream lantern, 2011 - photo by Scottie CameronStories of Australian identity and history will be narrated through a rich display of design objects as part of Design Storytellers: The Work of Broached Commissions at the National Gallery of Victoria from 17 August 2018.

From Chen Lu’s lantern inspired by the life of Australia’s first female convict Mary Bryant to a free-standing whisky bar designed by Naihan Li in response to the influx of Chinese migrant workers to the goldfields, this exhibition reveals design’s ability to engage with Australia’s history, mythology and the human condition.

Showcasing the work of renowned designers including Charles Wilson, Trent Jansen, Adam Goodrum, Max Lamb, John Warwicker and Ma Yangsong, the exhibition draws from the collection of Broached Commissions – a creative agency that commissions designers to produce ambitious and finely crafted design.

Spanning ten years of design, in this first retrospective of Broached Commissions the designers have responded to a research based model in order to create limited-edition and one of a kind bespoke design objects. Through a series of thematically rich collections Broached Commissions has cemented a position that is unique in the world of Australian design.

“We believe that design gives form to power. Ambition has no inherent form; designers invent it,” says Lou Weis, Creative director of Broached Commissions. “On behalf of others – governments, corporations and individuals – designers create the tactile experience of persuasion and desire. In particular we are interested in design since the Industrial Revolution and the peak of the colonial period. It is from this period forward that modern Australia comes into being.”

Each collection is anchored within an overarching creative framework providing a sounding board against which designers can propose works that must respond to a central narrative, binding the work together. Lucy McRae’s Prickly Lamp reflects on the colonial period, acting as a metaphor for the depravities of convict culture and responding to the harsh living conditions faced by convict women during this time.

Los Angeles-based Korean artist Mimi Jung’s never-seen-before set of glass objects encapsulate her experiences of migration. Using glass casts of her weaving work which have been laser cut and fused back together, she has created large-scale glass works with voids that are symbolic of the disconnection that can be experienced with migration and assimilation.

Paludarium Shigeru by Japanese flower artist Azuma Makoto, exploring the complex relationship between Australia and Asia in the mid-to-late 19th century and a highly technical take on the 19th century Wardian Case, used for transporting rare living plants; and covered in sixty thousand hand-dyed toothpicks.

Design Storytellers offers audiences the opportunity to think about the power of objects; to delve into our social history and tell stories that resonate into the future,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV.

“This exhibition presents work by some of the most interesting Australian and international designers today, positioning design as a powerful tool for shaping culture and enabling self-reflection, and the designer as thought-leader and change-maker.”

Design Storytellers: The Work of Broached Commissions
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition: 17 August 2018 – February 2019
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Chen Lu (Taiwan born 1975, arrived Australia 1990), U-P Graphic Design Studio, Australia est 2004. Dream lantern set of three from the Broached Colonial collection, 2011. timber, marblo, glass, brass – photo by Scottie Cameron © Chen Lu