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Place making and Indigenous Design Narratives in Civic Spaces

Having long been leaders in the commercial carpet and flooring sector, Milliken-Ontera are now paving the way with design-led collaborations that are driven by individual expression in ‘place making’.



BY

December 3rd, 2019


Having long been leaders in the commercial carpet and flooring sector, Milliken-Ontera are now paving the way with design-led collaborations that are driven by individual expression in ‘place making’. With the launch of their new initiative, “Reconciliation through Design”, the brand is celebrating the culture and history of Indigenous Australians through the largest canvas possible: the floor. Through collaborations with Indigenous designers and artists, the initiative is pioneering the integration of Indigenous design perspectives into mainstream spaces.

Water Yuludarla – the first collection to be part of the initiative – is an artful celebration of the people, cultures, communities and landscapes of the New South Wales North Coast. Already being featured in notable projects around the nation, the collection puts Indigenous design centre stage, allowing architects, designers and specifiers to deliver projects that are uniquely Australian.

C.ex Coffs International Stadium, photography by Gethin Coles

Nestled in the coastal town of Coffs Harbour, the C.ex Coffs International Stadium (Epic Stadium) brings international and local events to the New South Wales North Coast. A major infrastructure project for the local council and federal government, the stadium has been designed and constructed to reflect the environment in which it sits. Led by Lipman Pty Ltd in association with the Coffs Harbour City Council and supported by Hassell Sports Architects, DRA Architects and local interior design studio Two Birds design, the venue succeeds in function and purpose, working as both event venue and community destination.

Milliken-Ontera

C.ex Coffs International Stadium, photography by Gethin Coles

More than just a space, the stadium exists as a material conversation between the built, natural and lived environment. Expansive and open-air, it offers a regional alternative to the sprawling stadiums of high-density cities: becoming one with the lush hinterland instead of sitting on top of it. This same connection to the environment is carried indoors, where grandstand entries, meeting rooms and conversation hubs all speak intuitively to their surrounds. In these spaces, connection is established through the flooring, where featured artwork and designs from Milliken-Ontera’s Water Yuludarla collection weave a story about community and country collectively.

C.ex Coffs International Stadium, photography by Gethin Coles

Produced in collaboration with the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance and the National Aboriginal Design Agency, the collection is a contemporary interpretation, based on the artwork created by local Gumbaynggirr artist Brentyn Lugnan and Milliken-Ontera, with designs making specific reference to the surrounding region. Completed in natural hues, the chosen design pieces explore the textures, waterways and rock formations of Coffs Harbour, creating a space that is inherently unique to its context. For the team behind the stadium, the carpet formed as the presiding feature of the project, an ideal solution to creating a sensory and beautiful interior that was practical and timeless.

C.ex Coffs International Stadium, photography by Gethin Coles

While the C.ex Coffs International Stadium used Water Yuludarla as an echo of its immediate surrounds, Melbourne’s Ridley College relied on its colours, textures and symbolism in juxtaposition to its dense city landscape. Situated just minutes from the city’s CBD, the college’s library was recently refurbished and re-energised, with Milliken-Ontera’s latest collection working as an artful centrepiece to the introspective space.

Ridley College, photography by Chalk Studio

One of Australia’s leading colleges in theology, Ridley’s last major upgrade was in 1984 and its growing number of staff, students and resources were beginning to feel the strain. With the library highlighted as a specific area for improvement, the college enlisted the help of ARM Architecture and McCorkell Construction, with a brief to create an expansive space that would facilitate an environment of learning and productivity, while also connecting the college to its wider community and the country.

Ridley College in Melbourne, photography by Chalk Studio

Through the refurbishment, the project team created a multi-functional space that was both comfortable and engaging. Designed for everyday use, it includes areas for reading and studying, with separate zones created for collaborative learning and lessons. In a large, open plan space, the carpet worked to establish zones, with different colours and textures working to create purpose-driven intersections. So too, the carpet provided an opportunity for visual artistry, with the elaborate designs of the collection allowing for creativity to be injected in a space whose walls are covered in books.

Ridley College in Melbourne, photography by Chalk Studio

More than just a practical solution, the Water Yuludarla collection also allowed the project team to meet the client’s brief of an Australian driven design. In putting a spotlight on Indigenous artists, the collection provides an exclusive opportunity to celebrate the history of Australia and its Indigenous peoples. Through the tiles, narratives of community and country are communicated in colours, textures and patterns, creating a visual statement that is wholly unique to the Australian experience. In a space that brings together teachings from around the globe, the carpet creates a grounding effect, anchoring the library in narratives of the collective self.

Ridley College in Melbourne, photography by Chalk Studio

For the communities of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales and Melbourne, these projects represent a celebration of history and locality. As they interact with either library or stadium, visitors become integrated in spaces that exist in symbiosis to their surrounds, where the use of Indigenous led design and place making encourages everything from sports to studies to be understood in relation to community, country and the Indigenous people who call Australia home.


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