Transformative Repair Regional

Guy Keulemans from the University of New South Wales and Niklavs Rubenis from the Australian National University are researchers interested in the power of design-led repair to change the way we think about waste, consumption and the life of objects. 

Guy and Niklavs worked together on Object Therapy in 2016 which became an exhibition that is currently on tour around Australia through the Australian Design Centre’s national exhibition touring program ADC on Tour.

During the tour Guy and Niklavs continued their research working with Design Tasmania and Noosa Regional Gallery to connect the owners of broken objects to designers, craftspersons and makers willing to experiment with creative forms of repair.

These films show the results of this ongoing research project.


Aidan replied to our research invitation with images of his inherited typewriter, a glorious design from the past. The typewriter no longer worked well and had no obvious use in the digital age, but embodied Aidan’s memories of his beloved grandmother. Tasmanian born and internationally renowned designer Anita Dineen took it upon herself to open up and explore the typewriter, in both its physical form and its metaphysical potential for transformation. 

More about Anita Dineen


Cecilija responded to our call for participation with a personally significant stovetop coffeepot. Missing its handle and no longer usable, Cecilija greatly missed her morning coffee. Launceston-based designer and furniture maker Matt Prince took the repair of the coffeepot to the next level: a cleverly engineered fix that exemplifies his ingenuity and fabrication skills. 

More about Matt Prince Design


Domi responded to our invitation to participate with an exquisite, but terribly worn, hand-embroidered shawl. Domi, a migrant from Belgium by way of South Africa, embroidered the shawl many years ago when she had just arrived in Australia and was struggling to make a new life for herself. We passed the shawl, along with our interview with Domi, to the architects Lindy Atkin and Steve Guthrie of Bark Design based in the Noosa hinterlands. Their design expertise, attention to detail and respect for Domi’s story led to a surprising and illuminating, transformative repair.

More about Bark Design


Sam responded to our research invitation with two bags of broken glass - the remains of three colourful, sentimental vases that had been displayed on a cabinet, but smashed to pieces by a falling television. Local inventor, artist and maker Darryl Bartlett aka the BushPunk, dug deep to transform this difficult collection of material into something Sam can happily return to her living room.

More about Darryl Bartlett the Bushpunk


Many years ago, Mignon’s vase was knocked off a bookshelf by her young son. She held onto it’s broken pieces for decades. In this project we at last found its repairer, Peter Bowles. Though Peter was hesitant due to the repair’s complexity and the vase’s unusual kind of glass, he rose to the challenge and made use of every single shard. The once stunning Lalique crystal is now transformed into a stunning and unique pair of display glasses and earrings.

More about Glass Manifesto


The march of time makes waste of many things, even toys once loved by children. With the permission of his grown up son, David offered us such a toy, a skeleton dinosaur from the ‘He-Man’ cartoon universe. Its repairer, John Semmens, is a professional prosthetics designer with a side gig making masks, costumes, guitars and art. He channelled his own childhood memories and applied his technical skills to transform the toy into an entirely new character, a character with a back story thats fully fleshed out (though lacking actual flesh). 


The little red china cup was a gift to Denise from her daughter. Denise described the moment in which she held its smashed remnants as precious –a moment in which an object was broken, but love remained. Local ceramacist Sophy Blake was inspired to express this event in a remarkable sculptural repair, capturing the story of three generations of women and evoking the bonds of family. 

More about Sophy Blake


Wendy developed her love of Asian antiques from a life of travel, yoga, and adventuring around the world. Her little Japanese altar was much loved, but deteriorating rapidly by the time we passed it to Noosa artist Nathalie Bastier. Repair and reuse are central to Nathalie’s art as a means to explore material cultures and vitalise the experience of crafted objects. She used these influences to propel a rich transformative restoration.

More about Nathalie Bastier


Funded by the University of New South Wales Faculty of Art & Design and the Australian National University College of Arts & Social Sciences School of Art & Design.

Facilitated with the support of the Australian Design Centre, Noosa Regional Gallery and Design Tasmania.

Chief Investigator: Guy Keulemans
Co-Investigator: Niklavs Rubenis
Filming, Editing & Photography: Kit Baker
Music: Oli Chang
Additional transcript editing: Tammy Brennan

Our thanks to our repairers Bark Design, Darryl Bartlett, Matt Prince, Anita Dineen, Peter Bowles, Nathalie Bastier, John Semmens and Sophy Blake, and to our research participants Domi, Sam, Cecelija, Aidan, Mignon, Wendy, David and Denise.

Object Therapy is part of ADC On Tour, the Australian Design Centre's national touring program. Object Therapy is a project by Hotel Hotel. Developed in partnership with UNSW Art & Design and ANU School of Art and Design. 

Explore more about Transformative Repair here

Image: Transformative Repair - Aidan's grandmother's broken typewriter (detail). Photo: Kit Baker. Below:  Transformative Repair - Aidan's grandmother's broken typewriter, banner. Photo: Kit Baker

Aiden's grandmothers typewriter