Trent Jansen is a designer based in Thirroul, Australia, and Lecturer at the University of New South Wales Art & Design, Sydney Australia. Jansen gained his PhD from the University of Wollongong under renowned Australian art historian Ian McLean, and his Bachelor of Design from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in Sydney. He spent part of his undergraduate degree in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

After a period working under Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam, Trent returned to Australia to set up a design studio in Sydney, before moving his practice to Thirroul on the New South Wales South Coast.

Jansen applies his method of Design Anthropology to the design of limited edition and one-off pieces for clients including the Molonglo Group, Charter Hall and Mirvac. This approach is also applied to the design of products and furniture for manufacturers Moooi, DesignByThem and Tait. Jansen was one of the co-founders of Broached Commissions and is represented by Broached Commissions for Broached in-house commissions.

“Trent has a great deal of respect for cultural heritage and is extraordinarily thorough in incorporating cultural identity and history into his works … his collaboration with Broached Commissions has the same kind of take on defining the Australian design identity as Droog has done for the Dutch design identity” – Marcel Wanders – Mezzanine, 2015.

Trent Jansen is represented by Gallery All in the USA and China and Galleria Rossana Orlandi in Europe.

Jansen’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: Venice Design Biennial 2023; National Gallery of Victoria 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2017 and 2013; Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Australia 2022, 2020 and 2019; JingArt, Beijing 2021; ART021, Shanghai 2021; Galleria Rossana Orlandi, Milan 2024, 2020 and 2019; Design Miami, Miami and Basel 2018 and 2015; Salon Art+Design, New York City 2017; Art Gallery of South Australia 2017; XX1T – the 21st International Exhibition at the Triennale Di Milano 2016; Design Days Dubai 2015; The Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing 2014; Broached Colonial, Sydney and Melbourne 2011; London Design Museum 2009 and Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Italy 2008.

Jansen’s awards include: Vogue Living VL50, Product Designer of the Year Award 2024; Creative Australia ‘International Touring and Presentation Funding’ 2023; Venice Design Biennial Residency 2022; Australia Council for the Arts ‘Project Funding’ 2021, 2019 and 2017; Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2021; the Space+Edra Design Residency with Massimo Morozzi 2010; the Bombay Sapphire ‘Design Discovery’ Award 2008; the Spiral ‘Rendez-vous’ Japanese Manufacturing Residency 2006; the Australia Council for the Arts ‘New Work’ Award 2005 and the Object ‘New Design’ National Graduate Award 2004.

Trent Jansen’s new work is available in Asia and the USA through Gallery All, Europe and the UK through Galleria Rossana Orlandi and Australia through Trent Jansen Studio.

Image Credit – Marcus Piper

Selected Exhibitions and Recognition

~ 2024 ~ Winner ~ Vogue Living VL50, Product Designer of the Year Award, Australia.

~ 2023 ~ Venice Design Biennial, Venice, Italy.

~ 2023 ~ Kurunpa Kunpu | Strong Spirit Exhibitions ~ Artbank, Melbourne, Australia and Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, Australia.

~ 2021 – 2022 ~ We Change the World ~ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

~ 2021 – 2022 ~ History in the Making ~ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

~ 2021 ~ Winner ~ Design Files + Laminex Design Awards, Furniture Design and Collaboration categories, Australia.

~ 2020 – 2021 ~ Hybrid: Objects for Future Homes ~ Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia.

~ 2019 ~ Rossana Orlandi ~ Salone del Mobile, Milan, Italy.

~ 2018 ~ Design Storytellers : The Work of Broached Commissions ~ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

~ 2017 – 2018 ~ In Cahoots : Artists Collaborate Across Country ~ Fremantle Arts Centre, Australia.

~ 2017 ~ Broached Monsters Exhibition ~ Salon Art+Design, New York City, USA and Criteria, Melbourne, Australia.

~ 2017 ~ Finalist ~ Ramsay Art Prize ~ Art Gallery of South Australia.

~ 2017 ~ Creating the Contemporary Chair Exhibition ~ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

~ 2016 ~ XX1T – 21st International Exhibition ~ Triennale Di Milano, Italy.

~ 2016 ~ Porosity Kabari, Studio X, Mumbai, India.

~ 2015 ~ Gallery All Exhibition ~ Design Miami, USA.

~ 2014 ~ Broached Retreat Exhibition ~ Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China.

~ 2011 ~ Inclusion in Sydney’s 100 most influential people of 2010 ~ Sydney Morning Herald.

~ 2010 ~ Winner ~ Space Furniture+Edra Design Residency with Massimo Morozzi, Perignano, Italy.

~ 2009 ~ Finalist ~ London Design Museum ~ Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award, United Kingdom.

~ 2008 ~ Winner ~ Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award, Australia.

~ 2007 ~ Inclusion in & Fork ~ 100 of the world’s most interesting product designers ~ Phaidon Press.



Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit is the outcome of a 3-year, cross-cultural design collaboration between Tanya Singer, Errol Evans and Trent Jansen that began when Tanya, Errol and Maruku Arts invited Trent to their homelands at Railway Bore in remote South Australia. The designers Yarned while they worked in Railway Bore and in Thirroul on the New South Wales South Coast, learning from, and about, each other’s unique relationships with Country, family and community. By engaging with their respective cultural practices and traditions, the designers have realised a collection of works that speak to the resilience of both First Nations People and ngura (Country), celebrating the potential for inter-cultural collaboration to embody diverse cultural values and lived experiences.

Engaging processes of Deep Listening to each other and Country, the collection is in part a response to climate change experienced by the designers’ communities in remote South Australia and a poignant reminder of the need for environmental responsibility and action. The rapidly warming, drying landscape threatens the lives of community members and the ecosystem and, in turn, connection to Country and culture. Employing motifs of drying, cracked earth and protection, the collection is a powerful visual representation of the critical thresholds in the Earth’s system and the consequences of pushing against those boundaries. Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit invites reflection on the distribution of environmental burdens and benefits and the importance of reengaging in Relationality between community, culture and Country.

The material choice of American hardwood species provides not only a visual contrast between the more temperate and arid regions of the planet but also an opportunity to investigate the scientific underpinning of claims of sustainability and environmental responsibility. The analysis of the collection’s impact on the environment, including its contribution to global warming, is presented to emphasise the significance of considering environmental factors when choosing materials and the practice of good design.

Manta Pilti | Dry Sand
Manta Pilti (Dry Sand) has been designed by Tanya Singer and Trent Jansen to communicate the time critical catastrophic effects human induced climate change is inflicting on Country around Indulkana in remote South Australia.

For countless generations, Relational correlations between seasonal patterns of plants and animals have supported life in Indulkana, governing food collection, hunting, totemic relationships, and Law on Country. As the climate changes, these age-old relationships are thrown out of alignment.

Tanya’s references include the Parakeelya flower, a personally significant, seasonal, and small purple bloom, which was her mother’s favourite. It once blanketed the Indulkana hills and is now seen far less frequently. This once plentiful bloom is now only found in hard-to-spot patches far from the road, because of the increased heat, reduced rainfall and dry, sandy soil caused by climate change.

This fading bloom and the dry sand in which it grows are emblematic of hotter, dryer Country and tangible examples of ecosystem degradation in this region. They form the conceptual focus for the collaboration. Tanya and Trent have used the motif of cracking sand and Tanya’s interpretation of her mother’s favourite flower to inform the design of a furniture collection that can communicate this complex and troubling narrative.

Kutitji | Shield
Kutitji Chair (Shield), designed by Errol Evans and Trent Jansen, results from Errol’s passion for carving large objects. Errol is a highly skilled wood (punu) artist, known for embodying sophisticated cultural narratives in large carved forms including spears, nyura, tjutinypa and shields. In carving these large objects, Errol usually begins with a chainsaw to rough out the form before using other mechanised and manual tools to painstakingly shape these highly refined artefacts.

This project began as a sketch exchange between Errol and Trent, a process that began with a drawing by Errol, incorporating traditional weapons and shields as components of a chair. Through several iterations of call and response, Errol and Trent refined this idea to mimic Errol’s beautifully refined, large shield forms, generating a simple chair structure that draws on the idiosyncratic lines and surfaces of these artefacts. Kutitji Chair (Shield) is an expression of Errol’s concerns about the impacts of climate change and the drying out of Country. He sees these shields as a defence against changing times.

In addition to The American Hardwood Export Council, this project has been supported by:

The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, Arts South Australia, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the University of New South Wales Art & Design, Maruku Arts, The National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Design Week, Artbank and Fremantle Arts Centre.

Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit was originally supported and presented by Fremantle Arts Centre, 2021-23.

Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit is presented in association with Maruku Arts, a non-for-profit arts and crafts organisation, supporting Aṉangu throughout the Western and Central Deserts. Tanya Singer and Errol Evans are represented by Maruku Arts.

Makers – Chris Nicholson and Mast Furniture

Graphic Design – Marcus Piper

Artbank Melbourne,
18/24 Down Street,
Collingwood VIC

Fremantle Arts Centre,
1 Finnerty Street,
Fremantle WA

Exhibition dates
23 May – 14 July 2023

5 May – 23 July 2023

Image Credit – Fiona Susanto and Beck Mansell



Magistrato Al Sal Nero was the result of the Venice Design Biennial Residency 2022 and exhibited as part of the Venice Design Biennial 2023 in Venice, Italy. This work was crafted  by Venitian artisans at Vetralia Collectible and is made from a combination of granulated Murano glass and hand-carved, cirmolo timber.

Historically, Venice is known for its role as a trading port, connecting the centres of Northern Europe, including France and England with Eastern markets in Byzantium and Persia, but one of the earliest commodities to be farmed and traded in the Venetian Lagoon was salt.

Salt works were operating in the Lagoon as early as the first half of the 6th Century, consisting of rudimentary dams constructed from logs and branches, and large evaporation pools where the water would crystallise to form sodium chloride. Salt was used as a sort of currency in these early years of life on the Lagoon (Preziuso et al).

The preindustrial importance of salt cannot be overstated. Salt was the easiest and most reliable way to preserve food, and those who possessed salt were far less impacted by the earth’s natural cycles dictating food procurement. A large catch, for example, could be preserved and used to nourish a community for many months, instead of spoiling within days. Salt was essential to survival (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022).

The Venetians understood this and were known to use military force to maintain their advantage, in 932 and 1578 they destroyed rival salt producing communities Camacchio and Trieste to further their control (Warren, 2015). From the 12th Century Venice actively set about creating a monopoly of this crucial commodity. They began to import salt from the Adriatic and Mediterranean in 1240. In 1281 all Venetian merchants were ordered by the ‘ordo salis’ (the salt rule) to bring home a load of salt when returning to Venice. An administrative body known as the ‘Magistrate Al Sal’ (Magistrate of Salt) was established to manage this monopolisation and soon the Venetians had gained control over so much salt that they were supplying the entire Po Valley, Tuscany, the Puglia coast, Sicily, Sardinia, Crete and Cyprus (Preziuso et al.) – salt became ‘il vero fondamento del nostro stato’ (the true foundation of our state) (Beinart, 2011).

In the 1400s the Venetians built monumental ‘Magazzini del Sale’ (salt warehouses) called ‘Saloni’, with structures strong enough to hold 4500 tons of salt at any one time. They hoarded salt in their vast stores to create shortages and then increased the price to feed the demand and maximise profits. By 1590 they were making an 81% mark-up on salt sold inland. Some of these profits were used by the state to build sculpture and architecture, attracting many Renaissance artists to profit from this booming commodity (Warren, 2015). Venice is often introduced as one of the birthplaces of capitalism. The history of salt in this region is a clear demonstration of early capitalist values in action.

Today in Venice, salt plays a very different role. Due to the rising sea-level, the ocean regularly reaches above the limestone foundations used to insulate the city’s brick walls from the sea. These bricks are porous and when they come into contact with the canals capillary action draws the sea water upward as high as 8 meters inside the bricks and mortar (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022). When the tide drops again and the walls dry out the water evaporates, but it leaves the salt behind, captured within the walls of the city. Within a cubic meter of wall in Venice there is likely to be 70-80kg of salt (Piana, 2021).

When the salt dries it crystallises and expands, resulting in countless tiny explosions inside the ancient bricks and mortar and causing these walls to disintegrate from the inside (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022). Evidence of this can be seen throughout the city, from salt secretions leaking out through the brickwork to crumbling facades disintegrating into the canals and alleyways.

In an ultimate piece of dark irony, it is the uncontrollable acceleration of capitalist practices, beginning in part with salt in Venice, that have contributed substantially to the burning of fossil fuels, to produce and transport energy and products that might satisfy our insatiable taste for consumption. Emissions from these fossil fuels have warmed the globe, begun to melt our ice sheets and glaciers, and caused the water in our oceans to expand. These rising oceans and seas are now flowing into the Venetian lagoon, impregnating the walls of the city with salt – the substance at the foundation of Venetian prosperity now works to undermine the literal foundations of this ancient civilisation, threatening to return it to the salty Lagoon that it rose from centuries ago.

SPARC – Spazio Arte Contemporanea,
Campo Santo Stefano, Venezia.

Exhibition dates
19 May – 18 June 2023

Create NSW
University of NSW Art & Design
Noventa Di Piave Designer Outlet

Image Credit – Vetralia Collectible, Giacomo Gandola and Veronika Mutulko



Trent Jansen was selected from a field of international designers to be the recipient of the 2022 Venice Design Biennial Residency. Trent spent a month in Venice, researching and designing a new body of work with Vetralia and some of the best artisans and makers in Venice, for exhibition at the Venice Design Biennial 2023.

During this period Trent was introduced to expert artisan boat builders, glass blowers, velvet weavers and others, learning about these thriving traditional crafts and considering ways in which these practices might be employed in contemporary design works.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Venice Design Biennial, Trent met with lagoon scientist Giovanni Cecconi, one of the designers of the controversial MOSE flood barriers that help with tidal regulation in the Venetian lagoon. Giovanni introduced Trent to the history and science of the lagoon and instigated a research project focused on the impact of rising sea levels in the lagoon and the role of salt in Venice’s prosperous history and threatened future.

This research will culminate in a collection of design work, embodying the significance of salt in Venice throughout history. These works will be produced by the extremely talented artisans at Vetralia, for exhibition as part of the Venice Design Biennial, in May 2023.

This project was supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Venice Design Biennial
Create NSW
UNSW Art & Design



The Jangarra Armchair, designed for Fremantle Art Centre’s ‘In Cahoots’, is on show at the National Gallery of Victoria, as part of the ‘We Change the World’ exhibition.

‘We Change the World’ shares the work of prominent contemporary Australian and international artists and designers drawn from the NGV Collection, including works new to the Collection and on display for the first time. It considers issues such as the climate emergency, entrenched inequalities and humanitarian injustices, while also foregrounding the importance of identity, culture and expression to the wellbeing of communities and individuals.

“I like the armchair, it’s a proper Jangarra ngurra, the Jangarra could hide behind that one. It’s ok that someone might have that in their home as furniture, it’s an easy story they can understand, don’t you think?”

– Rita Minga, artist at Mangkaja Arts.

The Jangarra Armchair was designed by Rita Minga, Johnny Nargoodah, Trent Jansen, and Wes Maselli, and made by these artists as well as Gene Tighe, Elsie Dickens, Duane Shaw, Illiam Nargoodah, Mayarn Lawford, Eva Nargoodah and Yangkarni Penny K-Lyons. It has been created in two locations very far apart; Fitzroy Crossing in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, and the Wollongong region on the east coast of New South Wales.

According to Rita’s accounts, Jangarra is known colloquially as the ‘man killer’. A large, hairy man who carries a boomerang and a shield, Jangarra (or, ‘that Jangarra-bloke’) is known to crouch down and hide behind large rocks and anthills, observing his prey from this hidden position in the landscape. She recalls being told the story of Jangarra as a child by the old people at night, around the campfire: “They told us not to go close to the big mungku, the big anthills, because it was Jangarra ngurra, the home of that big man, Jangarra. As kids we’d go a long way hunting for a goanna, we’d dig under the small anthills but not the large ones, afraid of this man who might hurt us.” Rita is adamant that Jangarra is a real person, a real man.

A group of dedicated Mangkaja artists, including Johnny Nargoodah, Illiam Nargoodah, Gene Tighe, Eva Nargoodah and Elsie Dickens, along with Rita Minga and Trent Jansen, began to carve coolamon-like forms from locally felled Jartalu trees. The basic forms were given shape by Rita, Gene, Eva and Elsie, who hand-carved these organic objects using axes. The constant sound of axe-chipping was calming, yet over time become the soundtrack of hard work. The forms were further refined by Johnny, Illiam and Trent using an angle grinder fitted with a wood carving head. Wearing goggles and soon covered in wood chunks and dust they resembled creatures themselves.

Once the coolamons were formed, Johnny, Wes and Trent took them to the river, driving straight branches into the sand to generate an armature on which to position the coolamons as components of the chair. This armature allowed the Jangarra Armchair to be designed in three-dimensions and in real-time, placing the coolamons upside down and adjusting and rearranging them with the aim of generating an overall form that referenced both the anthill and the Jangarra ngurra.

Another important aspect of the Jangarra was the addition of traditional human hair string making. Myarn and Penny, the last two remaining people in Fitzroy Crossing who still have the skill to practice, teach and make human hair string in the traditional way. This is culturally significant to the Jangarra story given the now rare hair string creation skills and the subsequent reinvigoration of these skills for the project.

Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia,
Federation Square,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
8 May – 19 September 2021

National Gallery of Victoria
Fremantle Arts Centre
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts

Image Credits
Installation views of We Change the World at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 7 May – 19 September 2021.

Photography – Eugene Hyland



Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen have been collaborating in the design and making of designed objects since Fremantle Art Centre’s ‘In Cahoots’ project, which launched in November 2017. During this period they have operated in the place where their disparate cultures collide, developing work that is born out of cultural exchange – coming to know each other’s lived and material culture through the process of working together and sharing their values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions.

In pivoting from their work on ‘Partu (Skin)’ for Melbourne Design Week 2020, to the Powerhouse Museum Hybrid Commission, Trent Jansen began by asking Johnny Nargoodah about his understanding of climate change, as a key theme in the briefing for this project. From his answer it was clear that this was a term that Johnny had heard before, but it was not a concept that he was familiar with. Johnny’s daily life is governed by his responsibilities as a key patriarch in his community. Johnny is depended upon by many and gives his time generously to those who need it, doing his best to ensure that his nine children and count-less grand-children are well looked after, children from remote outstations surrounding Fitzroy Crossing get to school every day, and artists working in the art center have every opportunity to create and show their work. Understandably climate change is not high on this list of critical, family and community focused priorities.

Trent Jansen did his best to talk Johnny Nargoodah through his understanding of the current scientific consensus surrounding climate change, and Johnny immediately began to draw parallels between this science and phenomena he and his community have begun to observe on Country. Johnny has been noticing changes in the natural order of things on his land, changes in the systems that have governed life on Country for millennia, but Johnny and his community had no clear understanding why these changes were occurring. Climate change seems to offer a logical explanation to many of these troubling changes, and so began Johnny and Trent’s latest collaboration, a project that aims to embody the environmental changes observed by Johnny Nargoodah and his community from the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, as a result of climate change.

This community are the custodians of law and knowledge, pertaining to the natural order of Country in this region, passed down for count-less generations and supporting life in this place for millennia. This project for the Powerhouse Museum Hybrid Commission hopes to act as a vessel for some of this knowledge, communicating it to audiences outside of Johnny Nargoodah’s community, and once again issuing a warning of the devastation that climate change will continue to inflict, even in our most remote communities, if change does not come quickly and broadly.

Many of the changes that Johnny Nargoodah has noticed around Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia are linked to the Fitzroy River. The river is a site of local significance, with the ‘Warlu Gnari’ song-line running along the river, describing the waterholes that punctuate its flow and the many animals that live in and around the river.

As climate change begins to affect the weather patterns acting on this region, Johnny Nargoodah and his community have noticed that the climate is shifting from a tropical system that brought regular, manageable rainfalls to the region, to one that delivers rain less frequently, but in immense quantities, with longer periods of dry weather in between. According to Martin Prichard of Environs Kimberley, the region used to expect roughly six medium sized rain events each year, but this has shifted to an average of two very large monsoons annually. The region is now experiencing extreme monsoonal rain-fall during the summer months, followed by longer periods of dry weather over winter.

This may not seem like a large problem, but this shift in weather is affecting the Fitzroy River in drastic ways. It is now more common for the river to flood during summer, with people being stranded on communities or in town more frequently. Even more concerning is the affect that these dryer winters are having on the river. Johnny and older community members remember a time when the deep sections of the river would not dry up during the dry season. These sections of the river always brought fresh water to the community, no matter the time of year, and always provided shelter for the many fish species living in the river, including Johnny Nargoodah’s totem – the saw fish. Now the Fitzroy river regularly runs dry, and recently Johnny tragically witnessed saw fish beached on the dry riverbed.

The salinity of the river also seems to be changing. Johnny Nargoodah regularly notices salt crystals on the dry riverbed. According to Glenn A. Harrington of Innovative Groundwater Solutions, when the Fitzroy River is dryer it draws more water from a subterranean aquifer. This aquifer is many times more saline than rainwater run-off, and this may be the cause of an increase in salt content noticed by Johnny Nargoodah in this stretch of the Fitzroy. This growing salinity seems to be attracting new marine animals to Fitzroy Crossing, a town on the Fitzroy River roughly three hundred kilometers from the ocean. Johnny says that bull sharks are now common, as are salt water crocodiles, two more changes that are incongruous with Johnny’s memory of this place.

The design process adopted by Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen began with observations of the physical environment of the Fitzroy River, in an endeavor to understand the material quality, texture, form, tonality etc. of the river. Given the significance of the dry riverbed to the narrative of increasing salinity, they focused on the characteristics of the river when dry or while transitioning to a dry state. As the river begins to dry in sections, the final trickles of water flow across the sandy riverbed, tracing their path. The very last remnants are left to sit in sandy depressions, deepening these indentations and recording, in great ephemeral detail, the final movement of seasonal water flow across this vast riverbed.

It is this organic texture that Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen have chosen to adopt as the prevailing physical characteristic of a drying riverbed, and their conversation, sketch exchange, 3d modeling and material experimentation focused on recreating this textural surface as a symbol of a changing river. Johnny’s observations of dry salt crystals on the undulating riverbed have also become an important motif in the communication of this complex narrative. They have used rough Glen Innes black spinel gem stones as a subtle adornment in sections of the undulating surface to reference the significance of increasing salinity in this important and fragile ecosystem. The final chaise longue is upholstered in leather as an extension of the experimentation developed by Johnny and Trent as part of their Partu (Skin) collaboration, while the side tables are painstakingly crafted from solid walnut.

Exhibition curators
Stephen Todd and Keinton Butler

Powerhouse Museum,
500 Harris Street,
Ultimo, NSW

Exhibition dates
12 September 2020 – 28 February 2021

Powerhouse Museum
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
UNSW Art & Design

Image credit – Zan Wimberley



For the National Gallery of Victoria‘s Melbourne Design Week 2o20, Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen launched their latest collaboration with Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert and Arc One Gallery. This body of work was entitled Partu (Skin) and represents a coming together of their disparate knowledge and skill in working with animal pelts.

Johnny Nargoodah is a Nyikina man who has spent much of his life working with leather as a saddler on remote cattle stations, and Trent Jansen is an avant-garde object designer from Thirroul in New South Wales, who regularly experiments with leather and animal pelts in his collectable design work. Partu (2020), the Walmajarri word for ‘skin’, is their collaborative project experimenting with the combination of these disparate sensibilities. This body of work is designed by Trent and Johnny and both designers have their own lens through which to view the processes and inspirations governing these works:

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Saddle gains its name from the first sketch that Johnny made for this collection, an elongated saddle that led to experiments in stretching supple Scandinavian upholstery leather between geometric timber and steel forms to generate new, complex transitioning forms. Sketch exchanges over an 18-month period eventually yielded an entire collection built on this beautiful capability of leather to stretch between forms and give shape to the space in-between objects.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah

Arc One Gallery,
45 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne, VIC

Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert,
20 McLachlan Avenue,
Rushcutters Bay, NSW

Exhibition dates
12 March – 11 April 2020

11 June – 26 July 2020

National Gallery of Victoria
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Arc One Gallery
Mangkaja Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Image Credit – Tobias Titz and Tom Ross

This project was assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣



For the Salone del Mobile in 2019, the Pankalangu Wardrobe from the Broached Monsters Collection was exhibited with Galleria Rossana Orlandi in Milano, Italy.

Australia was England’s last great conquest. With colonial possession came the right to imagine, in anticipation of populating the country, what amazing creatures resided there. Fabulous creatures of incredible proportions and improbable anatomy filled the void of knowledge.

Fear of imaginary creatures gained fuel when early British colonists had sustained contact with Indigenous Australians and learned of local folkloric creatures. In Australia’s unforgiving natural environment these monster stories served a purpose, to warn that the wilderness is not benign.

Early monster stories represent a point of cultural confluence for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This is what attracts Trent Jansen to them, as the intersection of indigenous and non-indigenous narrative is a focal point of a design practice that aims to foster a new Australian culture of hybrid stories, informed by both Indigenous Australian and European traditions. Broached Commissions, Australia’s leading narrative driven design studio, has a long standing relationship with Trent Jansen and supported this show as it epitomised a shared interest in how the past informs the present.

Two creatures are represented in Broached MONSTERS: The Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay and the Pankalangu: Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay is an English myth formed after Captain Cook reported back to England of his brief experience of the Australian eastern coast, prior to British colonisation in 1788. Just as many convicts thought it was possible to walk from Sydney to China, and died trying, so too many arrived thinking a giant of nine feet tall, with a broad face, deathly eyes and a coat of long, sparse wiry hair was a real creature to be feared.

This Big Foot of the antipodes probably occupied the minds of many early settlers who tried to rest, surrounded by the sounds of animal stirrings in the pitch dark bush, on their first nights spent in the new colony.

Pankalangucomes from Arrernte Country in the Northern Territory of Australia. Trent Jansen was introduced to the story by Baden Williams, an Arrernte elder who assisted Trent in his research on Indigenous Australian mythical creatures. Pankalanguis one of three groups of creatures whom frequent Western Arrernte Country. He is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangumoves with the rain, and is made visible when the water droplets falling over his body are caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette. Our Hairy Wild Man born from afar and the rain gliding Pankalanguare the two protagonist creatures of this Broached MONSTERS Collection, embraced to make sense of a hugely jarring collision between two cultures.

Words by Lou Weis.

Galleria Rossana Orlandi,
Via Matteo Bandello 14,
Milano, Italy.

Exhibition dates
9 – 14 April 2019

Galleria Rossana Orlandi
UNSW Art & Design
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Michael Corridore



Founded in Melbourne in 2010, Broached Commissions is Australia’s most noted limited-edition design studio and leading international exponent of narrative based object design. The studio collaborates with Australian and international designers to produce furniture and objects that respond to context, history and mythology.

Since 2010 a broad array of projects have been developed for international exhibition or through direct commissions for leading architectural projects. In its own way, each project follows a research-led process – fusing cultural narrative and historical research with contemporary design. The outcome is work that combines legacy (political, social, industrial, material and formal) with contemporary functional and material expectations.

Comprising of works by Australian and international designers, including Trent Jansen, MAD Architects, Lucy McRae and Adam Goodrum, this exhibition, as the first Broached Commissions retrospective, brought together the most celebrated pieces across the studio’s output in addition to presenting newly realised commissions.

The exhibition, presented in the Design Studio at NGV Australia, offered a rich journey into the ideas and inspiration behind the works, providing a unique insight into a coming of age for Australian design, while examining the contemporary phenomena of collectable design-art realised through rich collaborations between contemporary designers, industry and craftspeople.

Broached Commissions was co-founded by Lou Weis & Vincent Aiello.

Included Works
Briggs Family Tea Service – 2011
Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair – 2013
Pankalangu Collection – 2017
Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay Collection – 2017
Jangarra Armchair – 2017 – Designed in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah and Rita Minga for Mangkaja Arts Centre and Fremantle Arts Centre

NGV Australia
Federation Square, Ground Level,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
17 August 2018 – 15 February 2019

National Gallery of Victoria
Broached Commissions
UNSW Art&Design

Image Credit – Michael Corridore, Scotty Cameron and Bo Wong



In Cahoots: artists collaborate across Country was an expansive exhibition of new work taking over the Fremantle Arts Centre galleries. The works were the result of 18 months of artists’ residencies in remote and regional Aboriginal art centres across Australia.

Artists from six key Aboriginal art centres invited leading independent artists – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – from around the country to work with them. The resulting collaborative artworks were significant, striking and bold in their inventive use of materials.

Featuring sculptural works, installations and films drawing together the ideas of artists from diverse backgrounds, In Cahoots presented a range of
fascinating, potent collaborations happening across Country today.

For In Cahoots, I was invited by Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing, remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, to spend six weeks over 18 months working with artists on community in the development of a significant body of collaborative new work.

Over this period I worked with Elsie Dickens, Yangkarni Penny K-Lyons, Myarn Lawford, Rita Minga, Eva Nargoodah, Illiam Nargoodah, Johnny Nargoodah, Duane Shaw and Gene Tighe at Magkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing, and Illiam Nargoodah and Johnny Nargoodah in my studio in Thirroul on the NSW South Coast, designing and making four new pieces of limited edition furniture, inspired by the geographical and cultural beauty of Fitzroy Crossing and surrounding country.

This project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Fremantle Arts Centre,
1 Finnerty Street,
Fremantle, Western Australia

Exhibition dates
25 November 2017 – 28 January 2018

Fremantle Arts Centre
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts

Image Credit – Tony Albert, Kieran Lawson and David C. Collins, and Erin Coates



At Salon Art+Design 2017 in New York City, Broached Monsters was on show with Broached Commissions and Gallery All.

Prior to colonisation Australia was imagined, in the northern hemisphere, as a vast southern landmass … and little else was factually known. Fabulous creatures, of incredible proportions and improbable anatomy, filled the void of knowledge.

Fear of these creatures was legitimised when early British colonists started to learn of the frightful monsters in Aboriginal folklore. This fear of what lurked in the unknown fathoms of Australian bush land soon became a point of cultural confluence for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Over 5 years of research and design investigation Trent Jansen recreated two creatures that represent both Indigenous and non-Indigenous vernaculars – Pankalangu and the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay – suggesting these conflating myths as central figures for a national mythology that is inclusive of both cultures.

Both the Pankalangu and Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Collections were on show in New York City at Salon Art+Design.

Broached Commissions was co-founded by Lou Weis & Vincent Aiello.

Gallery All – Booth D7,
Salon Art+Design,
Park Avenue Armory,
643 Park Avenue,
New York City

Exhibition dates
9 – 13 November 2017

Salon Art+Design
Gallery All
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Salon Art+Design and Gallery All



During Melbourne Design Week 2017, the Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair, designed for Broached Commissions, was on show at the National Gallery of Victoria, as part of the ‘Creating the Contemporary Chair’ exhibition, curated by the NGV‘s Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture.

Chinaman’s File is a rocking chair designed for the roughly 16500 Chinese gold diggers who walked from Robe in South Australia to the Victorian gold fields during the mid 19th Century.

“To reach the gold fields, they would load the heavier equipment onto drays, for the trek could be several hundred kilometers. The Chinese men would travel on foot in single file, each carrying supplies in two baskets hanging from the ends of a long pole over their shoulders. Each man could carry up to 78 kilograms – more than their average body weight” (Hill, 2010, Page 116)

Because of these unusual processions, ‘single file’ became known as ‘Chinaman’s File’ during this period.

These men were economic nomads, moving from digging to digging in the search of their fortune. During these grueling journeys across a forbidding and alien countryside it is likely that these men would have longed for the comforts of home – familiar food, familiar domesticity, the welcoming embrace of a mother, or the irreplaceable touch of a lover.

Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair was designed to simulate the rock experienced by a baby while being walked by its mother: each rock of the chair is designed to subject the user to the same arc and cadence that a baby experiences during its mother’s single step. In theory this action will produce a feeling of contentment that we have not felt since our infancy.

Creating the Contemporary Chair presented arresting and provocative chair designs by some of the most interesting Australian and international designers practising in recent decades. Comprising thirty-five new acquisitions supported by Gordon Moffatt AM, this exhibition explored the significance of chairs as markers of design evolution and as objects embedded with meaning, expression, experimentation and utility. Works on display ranged in date from 1980 to 2016 and included examples of both mass-produced and studio-created chairs sourced from around the globe.

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
17 March – 15 October 2017

National Gallery of Victoria
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – National Gallery of Victoria



The Pankalangu Wardrobe for Broached Commissions was one of the twenty-one finalists of the inaugural Ramsay Art Prize.

Designed to ‘change the way we view artists under 40 and value their work in the canon of contemporary art’ and supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation, this $100,000 prize was announced at the Art Gallery of South Australia on Friday 26 May 2017.

According to Western Arrernte story telling, pankalangu is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangu can only move with the rain, and is made visible when the rain that falls on him is caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette.

The Pankalangu Wardrobe is a designed interpretations of pankalangu – this animals is adorned with scales which camouflage as they move, but when the light catches these copper scales the form is defined by a glistening silhouette.

Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace,
Adelaide, SA

Exhibition dates
26 May – 27 August 2017

Art Gallery of South Australia
Broached Commissions
Criteria Collection

Image Credit – Saul Steed and Michael Corridore



Prior to colonisation Australia was imagined, in the northern hemisphere, as a vast southern landmass…and little else was factually known. Fabulous creatures, of incredible proportions and improbable anatomy, filled the void of knowledge.

Fear of these creatures was legitimised when early British colonists started to learn of the frightful monsters in Aboriginal folklore. This fear of what lurked in the unknown fathoms of Australian bush land soon became a point of cultural confluence for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Over 5 years of research and design investigation Trent Jansen has recreated two creatures that represent both Indigenous and non-Indigenous vernaculars – Pankalangu and the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay – suggesting these conflating myths as central figures for a national mythology that is inclusive of both cultures.

Broached Commissions was co-founded by Lou Weis & Vincent Aiello.

Criteria Collection
66 Gwynne Street,
Cremorne, VIC

Exhibition dates
17 February – 19 March 2017

Criteria Collection
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Dan Hocking



At Home is curated by Australian design expert David Clark to showcase objects from some of Australia’s leading contemporary designers alongside the significant Georgian furniture collection of Old Government House.

At Home celebrates the uniqueness of Australian design. Spanning almost 200 years, the objects on display throughout the House invite visitors to consider the past, present and future of Australian furniture and interior design.

Works on Show – Pregnant Chair, Jugaad With Car Parts, Sign Stool Limited Edition, Jugaad With Pottery Vessels, Sign Stool 450 and Briggs Family Tea Service.

Curated by David Clark.

Old Government House
Pitt Street,
Parramatta, NSW

Exhibition dates
11 November 2016 – 22 January 2017

National Trust

Image Credit – Michael Wee



The Briggs Family Tea Service, design for Broached Commissions, was selected for presentation as part of XX1T – 21st International Exhibition curated by the Triennale Di Milano. The exhibition ran for six months, opening at various important sites throughout Milan on April 2nd, running through the Salone Internazionale Del Mobile, and closing on September 12th, 2016.

XX1T focused on ‘21st Century – Design After Design’ ~ “collecting, mapping and selecting the most original and innovative actions carried out in architecture, design, crafts, visual and performing arts, film, music, fashion by all creative individuals, groups, ‘tribes’, schools” born after 1980.

It was a privilege to be a part of this exhibition and to have the Briggs Family Tea Service recognised as part of a global shift in the way we create.

Triennale Di Milano
Viale Emilio Alemagna,
Milano, Italy

Exhibition dates
2 April – 12 September 2016

La Triennale Di Milano
University of Wollongong
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Triennale Di Milano and Scottie Cameron



Porosity Kabari was an interdisciplinary,
cross-cultural, collaborative project whereby
Australian object designer Trent Jansen, and
architect/artist Professor Richard Goodwin, worked with Indian creative thinker Ishan Khosla.

The project challenged these three designers to collaborate in Mumbai’s ‘Chor Bazaar’ (thieves market) and Studio X, using the bazaar as their only source of materials and making processes. In the bazaar, the designers learned from spontaneous conversation and experimentation with the vendors and crafts people working in this manic market place. Conversely, Studio X afforded the designers a space for considered discussion and precise prototyping, in the development of refined ideas to be taken back into the bazaar.

Porosity Kabari ~ Creative Rationale:

How can something become something else? This is the essence of sustainable design in a contingent society such as India – a society without the common social safeguards of developed nations, one where the survival of each individual is determined by their unique ability to be creative and resourceful. While the rest of the world struggles with the environmental implications of designed obsolescence and disposable consumption, India is a place where resourcefulness is part of the everyday. Found throughout India, ‘Kabari Bazaars’ (junk markets) and ‘Chor Bazaars’ (thieves markets) are the neighbourhoods where many of India’s useful things end up at the end of their long lives. It is in these bazaars that many useful objects are given a second life – car panels are transformed into ad-hock cookers and old clothing is quilted into rugs for snake charmers. Radical transformation at its best.

One core principal of the Chor Bazaar is the ad-libbed nature of making, where time spent agonising over a design decision is income lost. The short period of time allocated to the designers (3 weeks) and the ad-hock making methods adopted by bazaar workers meant that design decisions were made quickly. The designers made decision in the moment, as the maker with whom they worked gave shape to those decisions with an immediacy that is seldom experienced in the Australian context. The complete novelty of these work practices, combined with the exotic material palette found in the Chor Bazaar, forced the designers to adopt an entirely new method of designing, changing their practices and providing the potential for a series of outcomes that are unique within their portfolios.

The sculptural furniture objects created in
Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar and Studio X formed the Porosity Kabari Exhibition. This exhibition was presented by Mumbai’s Studio X in February 2016.

Studio X, Columbia University
192, 4th Floor, Kitab Mahal, Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Fort, Mumbai

Exhibition dates
19 – 26 February 2016

Studio X, Columbia University
Parsons University Mumbai
University of Wollongong

Image Credit – Neville Sukhia, Studio X and Trent Jansen



On Friday the 23rd of May the Broached Commissions opened Broached Retreat, a retrospective of our first two collections at the prestigious Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing. Broached was invited by Gallery Director Philip Tinari to be the first ever design exhibition, and the first Australian representatives to exhibit at the UCCA.

Located in Beijing’s 798 Art District, the UCCA was founded by influential art collectors Baron and Baroness Guy and Myriam Ullens de Schooten and has grown to become a leading museum of contemporary art in the People’s Republic of China.

Broached Retreat was produced by Broached Commissions Creative Director Lou Weis and the exhibition was designed by long-term collaborator Chen Lu.

The exhibition included work from Broached Colonial and Broached East by Adam Goodrum, Charles Wilson, Keiji Ashizawa, Azuma Makoto, Chen Lu, Naihan Li, and Trent Jansen, as well as recent work by Max Lamb, Dzek, Susan Dimasi and U-P.

The Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair, Briggs Family Tea Service and the MaterialByProduct Weaving Frame were three of the pieces exhibited at Broached Retreat.

Exhibition Designed by Chen Lu.

4 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang Qu,
Beijing, China

Exhibition dates
24 May – 29 August 2014

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Broached Commissions
Australia Council for the Arts
College of Fine Arts

Image Credit – Yvette Tang and Maozhenyu



Broached East was the second Broached Commissions exhibition, opening in Melbourne in 2013.

For this exhibition, creative director Lou Weis invited six designers from Australia, Japan and China to respond to the link between Australia and Asia that shaped Australia during the first half of the 19th Century. The six designers invited to develop work for Broached East were Azuma Makoto, Adam Goodrum, Keiji Ashizawa, Charles Wilson, Naihan Li and Trent Jansen.

Trent Jansen designed the Chinaman’s File Rocking Chair for this collection.

Broached Gallery
Level 7, 388 Bourke Street,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
6 March – 20 April 2013

Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Broached Commissions and Scottie Cameron



Broached Colonial was the inaugural Broached Commissions exhibition, opening in both Melbourne and Sydney in 2011.

For this exhibition, creative director Lou Weis invited six designers from Australia and the United Kingdom to respond to Australia’s colonial period through the medium of limited edition designed objects. The six designers invited to develop work for Broached Colonial were Max Lamb, Adam Goodrum, Lucy McRae, Charles Wilson, Chen Lu and Trent Jansen.

Trent Jansen designed the Briggs Family Tea Service for this collection.

Paramount Building
80 Commonwealth Street,
Surry Hills, NSW

Exhibition dates
10 November – 20 November 2011

Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Broached Commissions



In 2010 Trent Jansen was awarded the inaugural Space+Edra Design Residency. The residency was awarded by Edra’s creative director Massimo Morozzi and saw Trent spend two months working with Massimo and the product development team at the head quarters of Edra in Perignano, Italy.

Image Credit – Edra and Trent Jansen

Space Furniture



In October 2008, Trent Jansen was awarded the Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award. This is one of the most prestigious design awards in Australia, presented once a year to a promising, establishing Australian designer.

This year Massimo Morozzi (creative director of Edra) as well as Humberto and Fernando Campana were flown to Australia to present the award.

Image Credit – Bombay Sapphire



In 2008 the Pregnant Chair was launched with Moooi at Super Studio in Zona Tortona, Milano during the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile.

Image Credit – Moooi