Articles Written / Objects to Inspire

The Good Weekend, The Age Magazine. 17 June, 2006

When we speak of designer items, we often mean familiar 20th-century icons such as Bauhaus furniture or domestic products by Alessi - everyone wants the Alessi kettle – but design also offers us a more personal promise.

The products that really mean something to us trigger memories and are signposts in our personal journeys. This raised, hollow - ware silver brooch was designed and made by Eugenie Keefer Bell and given to me by the Crafts Council of Australia at the end of my presidency. She is a jeweller, originally from California, who now teaches in the architecture department at
the University of Canberra, and I think she may have made it especially for me. It's beautiful in its own right but it also comforts and liberates in ways that go beyond its design and technical success. It comforts because it is a reminder of the extraordinary people I'm connected to: the person who made it, those who gave it to me and, more broadly, all the creative people I interacted with in many countries over the period of my association with the council and since.

It is one of the objects in my life that helps to liberate me from the fear of failure and disassociation that is at the heart of the human condition. It reminds me that I have belonged. This may be the true promise of design: a material culture, which allows us to stake a claim both as individuals and as a community. It's a brooch, yes, but it's also a prop in my story about myself.