The topic of her PhD, "Exploring culturally sensitive design in Aboriginal Australia"Indigenous communities, cultural identity and design is detailed below:
Industrial Design is about creating manufactured objects for people. These objects, commonly called products, are most of the time mass-produced and target Western World environments and users. Before industrial design existed, the concept of ‘product’ wasn’t known, and tribes made objects with their hands to hunt, fish and protect themselves from the elements. With the invention of the wheel tribes settled, gathered in communities, villages. They started growing their food instead on relying on hunting or fishing for survival, and developed a whole universe of tools and objects to ease their lives and add comfort to their existences.
The Aboriginal people are amongst the oldest human groups ever known. Before the arrival of Captain Cook in Australia (1770), the Aborigines had been living according to their own traditions. They were hunter gatherers, lived in basic settlements and crafted a whole range of traditional objects linked to ceremonial life, hunting and fishing or stone tools.
The arrival of British colonies made new materials available, which the Aborigines used and transformed to make new objects suited to their needs and millenary traditions.
All over Australia the Aboriginal way of life has been severely affected by the effects of colonization, however many traditions have survived and this study proposes to observe the way the not always smooth blending of two cultures (Western world with Aboriginal) has meant a deep evolution and redefining of the Aboriginal’s material culture. Indeed, objects from the Western World have been adopted, adapted or rejected by Aboriginal people over the past two centuries. In this beginning of 21st century, globalisation has invited itself even in the most remote Aboriginal communities, forcing manufactured items into traditional behaviours and environments. How has this evolution happened and how did Aboriginal communities cope with this rapid change in material culture? This question is central to Fanny's study, which aims not only at analysing this evolution but also at measuring the impact of western world objects and built environment on traditions and the everyday life. This thesis identifies areas where objects or housing may not be well accepted because they may not be relevant to the Aboriginal culture and way of life. The conclusions of the thesis will lead to propose guidelines for the design of specific culturally sensitive objects and housing relevant to the needs and wants of Aboriginal people in Australia, with a focus on the West Kimberley in a specific case study.
About my work:
Faculty of Design and Creative Practice
University of Canberra
Phone: +61 (0)2 6201 2307