Finalist 2022

Woods Furniture - Indigenous Fabric Range

Woods Furniture / Bundjalung Dreaming / Belgotex Fabrics

Our Indigenous fabrics are painting reproductions from Aboriginal Artist Steven Bekue.

Woods Furniture was the first educational furniture manufacturer in conjunction with Aboriginal Artist Steven Bekue to develop and introduce an Indigenous fabric range.

Design Brief:

Aboriginal history is a story over 50,000 years in the making, but unfortunately, many Australians are not aware as this has generally been excluded from Australia's education system. We identified that by acknowledging and paying respect to the First Peoples of Australia through the education system, will assist our children in deepening their knowledge of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. Although there were Indigenous fabric options already available, most were generic. We didn't just want dots on a canvas that looked good, we wanted to have artwork with substance that tells a story and educates. Our intention was to develop and introduce a range of fabrics that assisted students to have a better understanding of Aboriginal history.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The first step was to identify our responsibility to ensure cultural protocol is endorsed, and Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property is protected. We then engaged with the Indigenous community to establish an understanding of the sensitivities of cultural material, heritage and practices. Following this, we identified an up an coming Indigenous artist to work with. Our aim was to provide the artist with greater exposure and showcase his work on a national, even international level. During the process, Woods provided the artist with the 7 main colours that we were wanting to use.

This allowed the artist to provide a theme for each colour, that could be turned into original artwork that conveys knowledge of the land, waterways, events and beliefs of the Aboriginal people. Once the original artwork was completed, the artwork was the sent to a local textile manufacturer for reproduction on to fabric. During this process, our supplier had to create a repeatable pattern to allow for the production of a 50 meter continuous role of fabric.

The design team has exceeded the brief as the product is now being supplied to schools across Australia as both practical furniture for the learning environment and assisting education children on Aboriginal culture.

Design Excellence

Our Indigenous range meets all criteria for good design. It's a hard wearing high quality Australian manufactured fabric that is suitable for a robust environment such as a classroom or breakout learning area. The artwork is aesthetically appealing and fulfils the customers requirements. The fabric is produced in an environmentally sustainable Australian manufacturing facility. As a manufacturer of furniture for the education sector, all our products need to be safe, durable, practical and of high quality.

In the case of our Indigenous Fabric range, in addition to being fit for purpose, we have incorporated the ability for this product to be used in educating students on the First Peoples of Australia. We believe this products sets a new benchmark due to its originality and the way it changes learning within schools. It's not just a piece of furniture, the fabric design encourages conversation relating to Aboriginal history and culture.

Design Innovation

Unfortunately, as Aboriginal history has been excluded from Australia's school education system, there is both a lack of knowledge and respect for the First Peoples of Australia. Our Indigenous fabric range provides the opportunity to introduce Aboriginal history into schools that currently do not have it as part of their curriculum, and for school that do, assists in providing even greater knowledge. The products is unique in that it is not just a fabric with an Aboriginal design. Each individual fabric is a reproduction of an original painting and there is a story for each one.

From the outset, we identified the users of our products and how to best incorporate to achieve the best outcomes. Breakout areas and collaborative learning environments within schools provide and encourage an opportunity for open dialogue. By furnishing these areas with products that create conversation around Aboriginal history, not only broadens the knowledge of both teachers and students, but assists in creating greater awareness around Indigenous communities.

Design Impact

The project provides a social positive impact by acknowledging and paying respect to the First Peoples of Australia through the education system, and assists teachers and students in deepening their knowledge of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. The product is produced from raw materials that are independently tested and certified to be free from environmentally harmful substances in a sustainable manufacturing facility.

Woods Furniture, is a Victorian based manufacturer that is renowned for leading the way in designing and manufacturing innovative high quality furniture for the Australian and New Zealand education sector. We proudly market and promote ourselves as a Victorian business, and this contributes to the reputation of Victoria's design and creative culture.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Both Woods Furniture and Belgotex Fabrics, the supplier we worked with in developing our Indigenous Fabric range, operate within sustainable manufacturing facilities. In addition to being ISO 14001 Certified, below is further information confirming Woods Furniture's committed to reducing the impact of industry on the environment. As part of our goal to reduce our manufacturing footprint, we have adapted to waste emission minimisation, resource conservation, recycling and sustainable development through the manufacturing process and selection of raw material.

Our 100kW solar panel system contributes to approximately one third of our production facility’s daily power requirements, as well as exporting power back into the grid on weekends and days when production is not operating. To reduce the impact on domestic water resources, we have installed 4 x 10,000 litre water tanks to harvest rainwater and utilise within our factory. Below is a link to Belgotex Fabrics environmental page on their website outlining their commitment sustainability

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