ADC’s Artistic Director and CEO, Lisa Cahill talked with guest curator Liane Rossler, about GOOD NATURED: art design architecture produced by and presented at Australian Design Centre from 15 June to 27 July 2023.

They spoke about the inspiration for the exhibition, our responsibility to create better environmental outcomes and living a sustainable creative life.

Liane Rossler, GOOD NATURED design art architecture at ADC, 2023 Photo: Amy Piddington

Lisa Cahill: Liane, when I first thought about doing a project about design for good environmental outcomes you were the first person who came to mind. You have worked tirelessly over many years to raise awareness about the impact of climate change, the beauty in the natural world and personify what it is to live a sustainable creative life.

What was the catalyst for you to focus your creative energy for good?

Liane Rossler: I think I’ve always tried to focus my creative energy for good, but the focus became more urgent in the early 2000s when I started seeing the very dramatic impact that humans were having on the planet. Climate changes that were predicted to happen in the future were happening already, and it became clear that we had to change our way of being to continue a liveable existence into the future. We have become too smart in our growth, development, and technology, and we have progressed with manufacturing and expansion at unsustainable rates. It became clear that working to create better environmental outcomes was the most important thing to do. We all have the power and the responsibility to use our energy to care for the world.

Lisa: What is your core philosophy for living a sustainable creative life?

Liane: Creating something often starts from nothing, so as creators, we all have the ability to imagine the making process and what is involved in bringing something to life. I think about where something comes from and where it will go. I think about and visualise the ingredients and the process of how something is made and where it will end up. I support people and businesses doing good. We can all vote with our dollar. It’s a powerful tool. I ask questions when I buy something and seek out better options when available. Many drops make an ocean, that's how change occurs. A sustainable life includes work and travel and everything you do. It’s all connected.

Lisa: What are you top three recommendations for everyday things that people can do to live better for the planet?

Liane: First, think about the impact of your travel, which is one of the biggest personal carbon emitting and planet damaging activities that can be reduced. Anything that uses fossil fuels for power should be minimised, so if possible, choose more sustainable options and reduce when you can.

Then grow the good and spend your money with people and businesses doing good. Think about where something will end up when you are buying it. Buy products made from natural materials or materials and quality that will endure.

Finally, Plant something. Gardening is the gift that keeps on giving. It has so many benefits and it connects you to nature and the seasons and the cycle of life.

Lisa: Tell me about your favourite creative project in recent years?

Liane: Projects that are considered in their material use and process as well as the outcome, use and life cycle are my favourites. Particularly in material innovation, architecture, and landscape projects there are many great things going on in the world.

Good Natured is a project we have been working on for three years and in that time many things have changed in terms of how we are addressing climate change and sustainable living. People are very active at macro and micro levels advocating for change, eventually modifying their individual habits to help.

Lisa: What do you think are the most impactful changes we have seen in recent time?

Liane: More people are choosing renewable energy for power, and particularly solar powered energy is growing. We’re also seeing a greater uptake in hybrid and electric cars and phasing out of gas in homes. The world likely hit peak fossil fuel power in 2022. People are appreciating nature more and more, and our cities are becoming greener which is important in regenerating our environment. Having new progressive and independent voices in government is also bringing impactful change.

We have selected nine practitioners for the GOOD NATURED exhibition that exemplify how artists, designers and architects are considering the environment in the practice.

Lisa: What are the features of these projects that stand out?

Liane: I selected the practitioners for their approach, practice, method, ethics, social impact and the way their life and their work are intertwined. They are all independent and have a unique voice. They work for the greater good, create beautiful, considered, impactful and enduring work. They are good natured people in their work and in their life.

There are so many people active in creating for good environmental outcomes. Together with the practitioners we've brought together a growing list of about 100 other examples featured within the exhibition space to show that amplification of great work and inspire others to take actions into their own lives. While many people might not immediately see these people as designers or consider their projects as creative, I think they are all doing work that shows how good design can achieve amazing things.

Lisa: Would you agree that design is a democratic skill that harnesses creativity for beneficial and beautiful outcomes? How can we all do this even if we don't consider ourselves to be design experts?

Liane: Absolutely. We are all creators. We can all use our actions to support and create positive outcomes. The exhibition leads the way forward for creative practice that is beautiful and beneficial for the environment.

Read more about GOOD NATURED: design art architecture here.

About Liane Rossler

Liane Rossler is an artist, designer and curator who has worked in creative industries for over thirty years, and has spent the last fifteen years focused on projects that intersect art, design and the environment. 

Alongside her solo creative practice which is focused on beneficial and beautiful sustainable design, she is founder of Superlocalstudio which inspires collaborative, socially engaged cultural and creative projects for diverse audiences.

Liane was co-founder of Dinosaur Designs, and as a director and designer for twenty five years established stand alone stores in Sydney, Melbourne and New York. Works were exhibited in galleries and museums throughout Australia and internationally, and sold through stores worldwide.

She is a member of The City of Sydney Retail Advisory Board, Creative Services Advisory at Sydney Living Museums, Better Places Advisory Group Member at NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Knowledge & Innovation Hub Steering Group at Waverley Council, Public Art Committee at Waverley Council, a Climate Reality Leader, a UNSW Alumni ambassador, a 1 Million Women ambassador, and a member of The Voiceless Council.

Working to create beneficial projects and outcomes across platforms, Liane is engaged across independent and collaborative design, art, creative advisory, business, cultural and educational projects.

Liane Rossler, guest curator of GOOD NATURED: design art architecture 2023 at ADC.

Photo by Amy Piddington.