Design Canberra 2021 logo

Shine Dome, photo: Adam McGrath H Creations
Shine Dome, photo: Adam McGrath H Creations
Past event

Object Subject - Inaugural National Design Writing Conference

Inaugural National Design Writing Conference

Exploring the way design speaks to us, and the way we speak about design, the inaugural national design writing conference will be held at Roy Grounds’ iconic 1959 Shine Dome as a signature DESIGN Canberra event. For the first time, designers, writers, critics, bloggers, researchers, collectors, makers, curators and design lovers will come together to explore the creative and important ways that writing has become essential to the future of design.


Alice Rawsthorn, London-based, award-winning design critic for the New York Times, and author of the critically acclaimed book Hello World: Where Design Meets Life.

Dana Tomic Hughes, award-winning interior designer and founder of Yellowtrace, one of the world’s most influential online design publications about interiors, architecture, art, travel and design culture.

Stay on for the weekend and experience everything that DESIGN Canberra has to offer, including events, exhibitions, talks, tours, activations, markets, collaborations, artist studios and open homes. Throughout November 2017, the festival celebrates and promotes Canberra as a global city of design, transforming the nation’s capital into a new platform for design and experimentation.




6:00pm – 7:30pm Opening Reception, Vibe Hotel

Jane Caro, author, novelist, journalist, broadcaster, columnist, advertising writer and social commentator, will speak at the opening reception and MC the main session of Object Subject, the inaugural national design writing conference.


8:30am – 5:00pm Conference (Day 1)


Keynote lecture (40-45 minutes)

Alice Rawsthorn: Design Rewritten

Design has adopted many different meanings at different times, and is still prone to muddles, misunderstandings and clichés. Alice Rawsthorn considers the part that writing has played in this process, and how it could help to foster a more enlightened and nuanced understanding of design in the future.

Panel discussion

Design for social inclusion: makers making a difference

Chaired by Minister for the Arts and Community Events, Gordon Ramsay MLA, with Emily McCulloch Childs (Indigenous Jewellery Project), Tasman Monroe (Tapestry Couch), and Niklavs Rubenis (Object Therapy).


Keynote lecture (40-45 minutes)

Dana Tomic Hughes: Design Meets Digital Media, A New Way of Storytelling

Design has been democratised by the digital media revolution, this has presented its own set of challenges for designers, writers, makers and the media. We live in a visually cluttered and noisy world where we are constantly bombarded with items that demand our immediate attention. There is an overwhelming amount of information pumped through the internet every single second – it is no wonder that we find ourselves unfocused and distracted.

With an increasingly lower attention span, capturing and sustaining the attention of an audience can be tricky. In her keynote, Dana will explore best practice in the digital space and share her experiences around the areas of; delivering value; creating engagement; cultivating trust; and building an ongoing relationship with a design audience that’s becoming more fickle in a digital space that’s constantly changing.

Panel discussion

Object narratives: storytelling as a tool used by designers in the design process

Chaired by Penny Craswell (The Design Writer), with Nicole Monks (trans-disciplinary artist of Yamatji Wajarri, Dutch and English heritage), Lou Weis (Broached Commissions) and Sarah Rice (Ekphrastic poetry).


Paper presentations

Ewan McEoin, inaugural Hugh D.T Williams Senior Curator of Contemporary Design & Architecture at the National Gallery of Victoria. The role of the provocation: writing to set the scene and commission new work

Grace Blakeley-Carroll, emerging art historian and curator. Designing for the library: Fred Ward and the National Library of Australia

Suzie Attiwill, Associate Professor, Interior Design, Deputy Dean, Learning & Teaching, School of Architecture & Design, RMIT University. Experiments in the middle

Panel discussion

Designing Responsibilities: How media and design writers can support and promote original design

Chaired by Anne-Maree Sargeant (Authentic Design Alliance) with leading design magazine editors Lisa Green, David Clark and Heidi Dokulil, with interior designer Angela Ferguson, and industrial designer Tom Skeehan (Skeehan studio). Presented in association with the Authentic Design Alliance


Panel discussion

Where do we go from here? Vision and wisdom projects in design and design writing

Chaired by Jane Caro, with Alice Rawsthorn, Dana Tomic Hughes, Ewan McEoin and Penny Craswell.


9:30am – 1:00pm Research forum (Day 2)

Session 1

Paper 1: Lisa Scharoun, University of Canberra. Design for social good inspired by Singapore design for healthy ageing

Paper 2: Tom Lee and Berto Pandolfo, University of Technology, Sydney. Atmo-Sphere: space surrounding objects

Paper 3: Gene Bawden and Alli Edwards, Monash University. Pride of Place: design thinking tools, play-based community engagement, and the Victorian Pride Centre

Paper 4: Faith Kane and Jo Bailey, Massey University School of Design (NZ). Articulating Materials: Catalyzing Change

Session 2

Paper 1: Gyungju Chyon, Parsons School of Design (NY). Embodying Betweenness: designing lively artefacts through imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness

Paper 2: Janice Rieger, QUT School of Design. Doing dis/ordered Mappings: Embodied and Material Explorations of Design

Paper 3: Rahmatollah Amirjani, Ph.D. student in Architecture at University of Canberra, Australia. The Object and Subject in Critical Regionalism

Paper 4: Bryan Harris, Ph.D. student at The Australian National University School of Art and Design. Designing the Boundary Layer: Unpacking the Box, the Basket, and the Cupboard



Early bird: $190.00 (until Thursday 31 August 2017) Full registration: $290.00 Student: $120.00

Vibe Hotel Canberra is the official accommodation partner of DESIGN Canberra. Participants of the Object/Subject Conference can access a discounted accommodation rate* for the duration of the conference (9-12 November 2017). Click here to book (login: TH9104663).

The conference will be followed by a Research Forum, presented in partnership with the University of Canberra on Saturday 11 November.

DESIGN Canberra acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding areas. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. We aim to respect cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.