Indigenous Design Thinking Conversations: Engaging with cultural design protocols

Assoc. Prof. Meghan Kelly (Deakin University)
2019 Conference

This article will reflect on working with Indigenous knowledges and engaging with Indigenous communities in professional design practice. The author will outline the process of extensive consultation that was undertaken to develop the International Indigenous Design Charter and the consequent academic and industry response. This analysis will draw on the presentation of industry representatives during Melbourne Knowledge Week, May 2019 at the Indigenous Design Thinking Conversations evening. These presentations provide insight into the impact of the International Indigenous Design Charter, a first-of-its-kind guide for practitioners to follow when representing Indigenous culture in commercial design outcomes. Speakers clearly articulated some of the challenges working with the Charter and discussed the difficulty of ensuring ethical and appropriate engagement throughout the design processes. However, each presenter resolved the document’s guiding principles were essential to change current design practices and enhance engagement methods concluding that ongoing discussion will only improve professional practices.

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About the author

Dr Meghan Kelly is a visual communication designer whose experience includes working on large, high profile campaigns and a range of corporate companies during her time as a practicing designer. Kelly is currently serving as the Associate Head of School (Teaching and Learning) and senior lecturer in the Visual Communication Design at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. Her research interests are in exploring issues surrounding identity creation and representation in a cross-cultural context, and the process to achieve a respectful, culturally owned outcomes in professional design practice. Her passion for a global understanding of design extends into her teaching practice and continues to be explored in research projects and design opportunities.

Kelly has worked with Dr Russell Kennedy to co-author the Australian Indigenous Design Charter (winner of the Premier Design Award (Design Strategy) and Award of the Year 2018) and the International Indigenous Design Charter (winner of the Good Design Award (Indigenous Design) 2018). In addition, Kelly co-authored the book Museum development and cultural representation: Developing the Kelabit Highlands Community Museum (2018). This research interrogates the challenges of developing a visual representation from intangible cultural heritage.