Designing for Country

There’s a 60,000 year gap in the Australian design scene. 

A glance at any Australian town or city shows one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures is largely absent. A side note, rarely the headline. And is it any wonder, with only around 20 Indigenous Australian architects practising in 2019? 

It’s not just an Australian story. There’s a lot to be learned from other experiences too. In the first episode of our Hassell Talks podcast, we hear from Elisapeta Heta, Māori Design Leader from New Zealand’s Jasmax. She tells us about her journey in embedding a Māori perspective into New Zealand’s design industry – and the long game of helping designers and communities create the kind of cultural safety that supports indigenous engagement.

Yakeen by Tom Day

Yakeen’ is a Gunditjmara word for vision’ or dream’.

The central design is a scar tree, representing Aboriginal peoples’ tangible marks on the landscape, reminders of our heritage and identity. The background design represents countless generations of Aboriginal peoples’ that have lived on the landscape.

Living in harmony and balance, participating in ceremony, hunting and just being and importantly representing our connection to place – the cultural footprint of Country. The animals represent the coming generations, a reminder to us to think not of ourselves but seven generations coming. The important teachings of passing on knowledge for the benefit of those who will inherit decisions made today.


Hassell Talks: Episode 1


Matt Watson, Hassell


Elisapeta Heta, Jasmax
Kyle Vander Kuyp, Schiavello
Nick Pearson, Hassell
Sarah Lynn Rees, Jackson Clements Burrows


Yakeen’ by Tom Day


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You need to build trust with indigenous communities. And you need to get your team comfortable with the idea that trust takes time.”

Elisapeta Heta Maori Design Leader, Jasmax

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