Conrad Gargett and Blaklash have established a unique relationship that will transform the way in which projects are delivered and set a new industry benchmark for First Nations community-led design.
Blaklash, a design agency which specialises in First Nations placemaking, is now providing strategic advice across the Conrad Gargett studios, to Indigenise practice and drive processes and protocols, with community engagement at the forefront.
“Collaborating with Conrad Gargett allows for ongoing conversations to build momentum around Designing with Country, working with community and giving First Nations people agency in projects that they’re engaged and involved in,” said Blaklash Director and Kamilaroi man, Troy Casey.
“When building on Country, the requirement to engage with community is not optional – it’s essential. Traditional Owners are responsible for or have authority to talk to Country and need to be involved in these projects and processes,” he added.
Blaklash Principal of Design and Mandandanji woman, Erin McDonald, has experienced a significant gap in the industry in authentic community engagement.
“There is an emphasis on Designing with Country but very few people really know how to do that appropriately and effectively. We want to bridge the gap by making direct impact and driving that change within the industry,” Erin said.
“It feels like the next step, not only for Conrad Gargett, but for the industry more broadly – building the knowledge, capability and capacity to understand the needs of First Nations people and drive the aspirations of community within the built environment,” she added.
According to Conrad Gargett Managing Director, Lawrence Toaldo, and Director, Tony Jemmott, the collaboration represents a momentous shift in the practice.
“Collaborating with Blaklash will be fundamental to reshaping our design processes, leading to outcomes that are built from a deep knowledge and experience of Country and First Nations communities,” Lawrence said.
“It’s about having an authentic First Nations’ response to a design problem. We don’t have that understanding but through this relationship, we have an opportunity to do it right,” added Tony.