Broached Commissions

Prison, wooden spikes and bedrock in an Australian design collective's first history-based collection

broached-colonial1.jpg broached-colonial2.jpg

When it came time for a concept to drive new design consortium Broached Commissions, rather than turn to exotic, far-flung influences, the firm looked to much more provincial sources—literally their backyard. Founded by Creative Director Lou Weis, the Melbourne-based collective includes three permanent designers, Trent Jansen, Adam Goodrum and Charles Wilson, who collaborate with an annually rotating cast of contributors on products related to Australian history. For this year’s project, Broached focused their sights on the Australian industrial revolution spanning 1788-1840.

broached-colonial6.jpg broached-colonial7.jpg

Broached Colonial, as it’s called, draws on the expertise of curator John McPhee, chosen to guide the group, offering insight on how the time period’s “make do” sensibility remains a vital part of Australian design today. McPhee’s extensive knowledge, coupled with the designers’ two years of research and development, led to a five-piece collection that elegantly interprets this tumultuous moment.

broached-colonial3.jpg broached-colonial4.jpg

One of the more striking pieces from the collection, Lucy McRae’s Prickly Light takes on the country’s infamous prisons. A “body architect,” McRae studies textures to create “skins.” After investigating the living conditions of female convicts at Parramatta Female Factory, she come up with the idea of an armor of wooden spikes to ward off potential predators, painstakingly dying each wooden piece before attaching it to the tripod and light.


Cool Hunting favorite Max Lamb developed a beautifully polished furniture collection made of sandstone from Sydney’s Gosford Quarry, an area explored by Governor Arthur Phillip during the first year of settlement. Not only is the Hawkesbury Sandstone Collection made from the country’s bedrock, but the stools are similar to what people would sit on in colonial period paintings, while the tables reference the exposed sandstone rock faces found along the shoreline of Sydney Bay.

broached-colonial8.jpg broached-colonial9.jpg

With four detachable shades, Lucy Chen’s glowing Dream Lantern (at top) nicely rounds out the other designers’ works. Chen tapped Australian graphic design studio Coöp to complete the pattern work, inspired by Mary Bryant and her famous escape from an Australian penal colony. The cordless light works as both hanging and table lamp.


Goodrum’s Birdsmouth Table, Jansen’s Briggs Family Tea Service set and Wilson’s Tall Boy table complete the collection. The Melbourne-based practice will exhibit the pieces through pop-up galleries and all are available for purchase. Broached Colonial will be on display through 5 November in Melbourne before moving on to Sydney, where it will remain through 17 November 2011. Check the Broached Commissions site for location details.