Reading List


Co-creating the Praxis of Teaching Decolonial, Intersectional and Pluriversal Design and Histories: an InterDesigning Symposium

The InterDesigning Network Team

Higher Education Institutions in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have a high number of culturally diverse students from the neighbouring regions who learn alongside local settler-migrant and Indigenous students. All learning and teaching, however, happens on Indigenous lands. Additionally, design and design history courses taught in the region remain entrenched in Anglo- and euro-centric narratives that omit place-specific contexts, local histories and knowledges, and diverse ways of designing, including those by the various Indigenous peoples in Oceania. To address these gaps in design education and counter the alienation and disengagement experienced by a student body who seldomly see their cultures represented in design courses, the InterDesigning Network was formed in 2022. The research collective behind the network is Dr Livia Rezende (UNSW), Dr Nicola St John (RMIT), Dr Fanny Suhendra (Swinburne University) and Dr Diana Albarrán González (University of Auckland).

Thanks to the generous support of the DHS Day Symposium Grant, in late 2023 the InterDesigning Network organized its first free-to-attend, in-person symposium held over two day at the RMIT University in Naarm/Melbourne. Then, we also launched a bespoke online platform ( to archive and disseminate our work and build a wider community of educators invested in overcoming key issues in design and design history education.

Titled ‘Co-creating the Praxis of Teaching Decolonial, Intersectional and Pluriversal Design and Histories’, the symposium gathered over 40 design educators from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, postgraduate students, and design practitioners in a frank dialogue to facilitate the sharing of experiences and challenges in the classroom, and the development of strategies to advance the decolonization of design education. The upholding of Indigenous sovereignty—a premise of the network—was reflected in privileging Indigenous voices and following appropriate cultural and local Indigenous protocols.

The symposium included circles of conversation led by guest speakers and two co-creating workshops facilitated by Dr Dion Tuckwell (Monash University) and Andrés Ortega, a PhD candidate at RMIT. These workshops, resulted in a series of material outcomes, including meaningful reflections and feedback from participants, which are displayed here:

The first circle of conversation, ‘Connecting to Place’, brought together Ayla Hoeta, a design lecturer from Waikato Tainui iwi (tribe) from Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr. Cecelia Faumuina, an Auckland-born design lecturer from Samoa and Tonga, Emrhan Tjapanangka Sultan, an artist who belongs to the Luritja and Western Arrernte Nations in Central Australia and Kokatha Nation in South Australia, and Jesse Wright (JESWRI) a Gadigal artist. They discussed Indigenous design history and practice, the implementation of local cultural protocols, and emphasised how their struggles and achievements in integrating Indigenous knowledges in design practice, teaching and learning are underpinned by an ongoing and ever-evolving connection to place and land.

The second circle of conversation, ‘Connecting as a Teaching Community’, included speakers with diverse experiences in design education: Nicole Crouch, a textile print designer for commercial fashion and industry, a sessional educator and a PhD candidate at UNSW; Bridie Moran, a sessional educator curator, editor, cultural development and policy consultant, and a PhD candidate at UNSW; Shivani Tyagi, a lecturer and researcher at Swinburne's School of Design and Architecture, and Peter West, a senior lecturer in RMIT's School of Design. As Crouch summarises, this circle proposed that “the role of design education goes beyond that of developing technical design skills. We are committed to supporting students formulate worldviews, establish design practices that are an expression of such worldviews, values, and ethical approaches. We are expected to challenge the systems around us to contribute to a more equitable society through creativity.”

The DHS Day Symposium Grant directly supported Dr Rezende’s travel costs and the organization of the two workshops, which promoted the co-creative and community building dimensions of the symposium. Indirectly, but no less significantly, the DHS grant enabled the InterDesigning Network team to allocate other funds to support the attendance of PhD candidates and sessional educators (i.e., on precarious employment contracts), contributing to capacity building among postgraduate and early-career researchers and educators.

As noted by Bridie Moran, “as a sessional educator and PhD candidate working casually in academia, it can be rare to connect with a community of teaching peers and feel valued as a contributor to sector discussion.” Based on reflections from her PhD research that analyses the history of policy for craft in Australia, Moran notes the significance of historical knowledge when addressing contemporary issues like the decolonization of design education and history:
“In looking to history, we can see that the power of networks is evident. When craftspeople organised and connected with others, their abilities to influence change increased as a craft policy network was formed in the early 1970s. Through the formation of new networks like the InterDesigning Network, there is positive potential to navigate and advocate as a community toward a better-designed and more inclusive future.”

— The InterDesigning Network team

InterDesigning pays our respect to Elders, Ancestors and Traditional Custodians of the lands where this network was conceived; Wurundjeri, Woi Wurrung, Boon Wurrung language groups of the Kulin Nations, Bidjigal and Gadigal peoples of the Eora nation, and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki iwi (tribes). We also pay respects to our own ancestors and acknowledge how they have shaped the stories and knowledges we share here.