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Reconciliation through design: Introducing Water Yuludarla by Milliken

Pushing inclusive design and co-creation into new territory, Milliken-Ontera’s new Water Yuludara collection has been designed in collaboration with Gumbaynggirr artist, Brentyn Lugnan.

As the journey for reconciliation with the Indigenous community continues, the power of collaboration through design has become a pivotal mechanism for change. In much the same way that design is paving the way for action on climate change, movements on reconciliation are being led by the industry that best understands the power of individual expression in ‘place making’.

Indigenous communities have much to offer in the way sites and spaces are designed and inhabited. Culture, community and connection to place become integral to the creation of these inclusive environments, which pay respect to Australia’s history and help to write its future. And, through design-led collaboration, Indigenous perspectives are given a voice.

Embracing reconciliation as a core value, Milliken’s “Reconciliation Through Design” initiative provides a platform for collaboration between Indigenous artists and designers and the commercial interiors industry. Recognising the role commercial interiors can play in narratives of reconciliation, Milliken is leading the way – promoting the voices of the Indigenous design community through collaborative projects and shifting the conversation to incorporate the traditions and culture of Indigenous design perspectives into commercial interior design. In doing so, the rich heritage of Indigenous art and their artists are magnified on the largest canvas possible, the floor.  

The initiative created is flexible and customisable, ensuring its relevance and longevity in the market and meeting the clients design requirements. Collaborations are available as project-specific pieces or a collection that can be marketed through Millken-Ontera’s global network. Driven by the same adaptability that defines the company, “Reconciliation Through Design” can offer custom pieces and unique collaborations, with end users invited to explore the richness of our Indigenous culture. Think, feature designs that connect to a project’s landscape, or elements of artworks from local Indigenous artists that are made to cover the entire floor.

Milliken’s collaboration with Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance and the National Aboriginal Design Agency is the beginning of the brand’s “Reconciliation Through Design” initiative resulting in the development of the Water Yuludarla commercial carpet collection – a six-piece compendium by Gumbaynggirr man, Brentyn Lugan.

Hailing from Urunga on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Brentyn’s original work is an ode to the place he calls home, an emotive display of community and country. Having grown up alongside the banks of the Nymbodia River, Brentyn’s art is inspired by his relationship to the water, where the river is both a geographical marker and giver of life.

“In the artwork, you can see the river flowing… and the representations of people; my ancestors and all the people who came before us who were sustained and nourished by the river and everything it had to offer,” Brentyn explains. “It’s all about our connection to country, and how this is integral to Aboriginal people, their culture and their lives.”

For Milliken, the Water Yuludara collection sets a new standard for co-creation and inclusive design. As Shaneel Deo, Managing Director of Milliken notes: “The commercial interiors industry can play a significant role in reconciliation by initiating a positive voice in support of the Indigenous design community to help create change and improve economic opportunities.”

Milliken is also affiliated with Supply Nation-accredited Indigenous companies that can assist with the purchasing requirements for the Australian Government Indigenous Procurement Program and the Business Council of Australia’s Raising the Bar Initiative.

The “Reconciliation Through Design” initiative has formed an avenue for diversity and inclusivity through the creation of commercial carpet products that celebrate the Indigenous experience as uniquely Australian.

The Water Yuludarla Collection

Guunu (Life)

Reconciliation Through Design

Guunu in Ochre

Guunu is a traditional take on the ‘dot paintings’ recognised to many across the globe as what defines Aboriginal artwork. Inspired by the land and the natural environment of the Northern Regions of NSW, Guunu combines the land boundary elements, which have been layered into the background. The dot elements incorporated into the foreground of the collection can be found in Brentyn’s artwork Water Yuludarla.

Yildaan (Dreaming Track)

Reconciliation Through Design Yildaan

Yildaan in Fern

Inspired by photography of the Northern Regions of NSW, Yildaan captures an aerial perspective of the landscape, showcasing the textures and waterways. Yildaan is the reverse to the Guunu design. Both designs can be installed together creating a balancing effect from light to dark tones, with dot elements.

Bindarray (River)

Reconciliation through Design Bindarray

Bindarray in Stream

Bindarray captures the textural elements of the river bank and the symbolic connection between people, water and land. It is inspired by the river found through the centre of Brentyn’s artwork Water Yuludarla. It also captures the movement of the sand when it connects to the water’s edge, and the rippling effect it displays.

Guluuna (Rain)

Reconciliation Through Design Guluuna

Guluuna in Oceanic

Rain falling gently on the river was the inspiration for Guluuna. Through a combination of rain and reflections, this design has captured the movement and essence of the landscape. Guluuna is a technological and contemporary look at the soft ambience that can be found in the movement of water.

Mayala (Moving)

Reconciliation Mayala

Mayala in Blush

Craggy wind-worn rock formations, as seen cracking through the earth from an aerial perspective set the inspiration for Mayala. The organic movement of land and water are blended in this design, creating an abstract and contemporary look.

Jagun (Birthplace)

Reconciliation Through Design Jagun

Jagun in Ash

Jagun is a fusion between the iconic dot elements of Brentyn’s artwork, layered with the Mayala (Moving) design in the background. Jagun is a rich tapestry that communicates the complexity and detail that can be found in Brentyn’s work.

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