Australian Design: 10 Unexpected Gems From Down Under

Sophie Finney

Australia is a country known for its relaxed attitude towards life, beautiful beaches and glittering coastal metropolises. A land of opposites, this country also benefits from wide open spaces, not to mention a plethora of often bizarre flora and fauna. As one might expect, it is in the cities that the Australian design scene truly thrives. Ranging across a broad spectrum of disciplines from the unexpected landscape design and emergency shelter design, to the more familiar textile design and interior design, here are some design favorites from Australia.

Cinnamon Lee

Since training as a gold and silversmith, Cinnamon Lee has gained over 15 years of experience designing both jewellery and lighting. The primary basis for all her work derives from the medium of metal and the unique working properties that come with it. Specializing in 3D computer modelling, Cinnamon Lee then combines rapid manufacturing processes with the traditional techniques of gold and silvers-mithing. This produces innovative work that explores the overlap between technology, the machine, and the hand-crafted. Inspired by the subtle interactions that occur between people and objects, she was recently chosen to exhibit in at the Gallery of Australian Design, which ran from 12 Jan 2013 – 23 Feb 2013.

Headed up by Julie Pieda, Koush Design is a small Australian design firm specializing in interiors, furniture and objects, all made locally. Based in Adelaide, Koush was founded in 1999 and creates distinct and individual design solutions for a number of clients. These can range from interior fit-outs for large commercial spaces down to custom furniture design or upholstery. Client consultation is key to Koush Design’s practice, and the company endeavors to develop a thorough understanding of the end user’s needs. This in turn fuels the whole project and creates quality results, incorporating work from a whole team of talented design professionals and craftspeople.

Emergency Shelter Exhibition, Melbourne

In recent years, more thought has been given to the design of emergency shelters. As the world becomes more populated, we see the devastation of natural disasters and war affect increasing numbers of people. Tents and make-shift shanties are no longer an option, so as a result more designers are looking into alternatives. In Melbourne this led to the creation of the Emergency Shelter Exhibition, most recently held in early May 2013. The design brief was to create shelters that were not simply protection from the elements, but also spaces in which those affected could feel secure and comfortable. A number of high profile Australian architect firms partook, including BVN Architecture.

Neoz Lighting

Neoz Lighting is a design-based manufacturer that was founded in 1983 by husband and wife team, Peter Ellis and Anne Gothe. The company aims to design and manufacture quality and innovative lighting products that benefit people and their surrounding environments. Neoz initially concentrated on creating table lights and task lights that were of high quality construction and design. This is an ethos that has not changed, and they have won the prestigious Red Dot Design award and three Australian Design honors for product innovation as a result of their dedication to good design. Today their lighting can be found in museums, galleries, restaurants and a number of other public spaces.


Founded and run by Russel Koskela nd Sasha Titchkosky, Australian design company Koskela design and produce Australian furniture that is beautiful, durable and functional. The designs are all inspired by the lives and things that surround the designers. For example, the Extra Low sofa takes the form of Russel Koskela’s dachshund dog; the sofa, like the dog, is long and stands on very short legs. This sofa is designed to make small spaces feel larger and, additionally, incorporates detail in exciting pops of bright color. All the furniture is environmentally made from recycled timber, and created in close collaboration with suppliers, manufacturers, and craftspeople.

Megan Jackson

Based in Australia’s capital, Canberra, Megan Jackson creates bold, colorful and dynamic patterns that are applied to textiles amongst other things. Once Jackson had completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons.) in Textiles at the ANU School of Art, she quickly established a name for herself as a producer of a wide range of hand screen printed designs on natural fabrics. Applying her designs to fashion textiles, furniture, home ware and interiors, Jackson has partaken in a number of exhibitions in Canberra, most recently in early 2013.

Paper Tiger

An award-winning sustainable design company, Paper Tiger offers cardboard furniture that is made in Australia using recycled materials. These products, which include tables, stools and room partition blocks, are well-designed as well as being a sustainable choice for homes, work spaces, exhibitions and events. Additionally, the cardboard material of the products means that a range of colors and printed graphics can be applied to the surface to create individual style for the client. Founded by Anthony Dann, the construction of the furniture was inspired by folded forms and seamless construction. Their flat-pack nature increases their environmental sustainability by making it easier and cheaper to transport.


Established in 2003, ecodesign® Pty Ltd has grown continually as a company through increasing amounts of referrals from past clients. Made up of a highly multidisciplinary team of experts, the company offers a range of services from landscape design and arboriculture consultancy, but also vegetation management and natural area rehabilitation. The team incorporates graphic design, architectural drafting and landscape design to regenerate outdoor areas, and their breadth of practical experience and knowledge does them credit as a company. Taking pride in the work that the company produces, ecodesign looks to enhance the natural environment, thus benefiting communities as well as wildlife, something that is high in Australia’s collective consciousness.

Moth Design

A design consultancy that works across a range of design disciplines, Moth Design specializes in display design and has a broad spectrum of clients including fashion designers and brands, arts festivals, trade-shows, hospitality venues and a number of self-initiated projects. Infusing critical thinking, sustainable practice and unfailing energy into all their projects, Moth works closely with builders and manufacturers, as well as their clients. This ensures that they obtain the best solutions for the clients, creating exciting and innovative interior and exterior spaces. As a result, Moth have become well known for working collectively with other creative professionals on both public installations and commercial projects.


Beginning in 1995, furniture design company Zuster is made up of sisters Wilhelmina McCarroll and Fleur Sibbel. The sisters had a strong design heritage of design to draw upon; their father Meyer Sibbel was a home builder in 1950s Australia. Wilhelmina decided to study Furniture Technology at RMIT, inspired by both her Dutch design heritage and Australian environment. Using her father’s cabinet-making factory to create a range of bedroom furniture, it occurred to the sisters to form their own company. Designing and producing furniture that is contemporary, beautifully crafted and entirely Australian, Zuster pieces are an investment that will stand the test of time.

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