Welcome to Newcastle, with Zookraft

Published:  June 18, 2013
Welcome to Newcastle, with Zookraft

This week we’re travelling around the country, visiting a few select regional cities, and having a local studio be our guide. Today we’re in Newcastle with Carl Morgan and Lara Shubert from illustration and design studio, Zookraft.

What do you love about Newcastle?
There’s an amazing sense of cultural, social and geographical diversity here in Newcastle. It’s a microcosm of society with eruptions of energy and creativity everywhere – it keeps us on our toes, though not to breaking point. If something isn’t happening here, it’s just about to.

What would you like to see done to improve it?
The flip side to having an abundance of creative energy in a smaller town can often mean a lack of resources to support it. If we could improve the understanding and appreciation of art and design, we may also be able to develop methods and actions to increase the opportunities for art and design based projects. Another possible improvement would obviously be a beachside rollercoaster.

What role does the place where you live play in your design practice?
In some ways, living in a smaller community can broaden design opportunities. If we had decided to live in a more metropolitan area, we may not have seen the need to establish the Look Hear Art & Design Festival, something that actively creates a sense of purpose in the design community. Although the internet can be Satan’s ultimate tool of distraction, it can also help to dissolve the barriers of communication and expansion within our industry. The existing myth of small towns being less likely to be involved with or being aware of contemporary design movements is bananas – it thrives everywhere.

What can you tell us about the local design community?
The design community here is fantastic. We’ve been able to meet and stay in touch with some really innovative, proactive and intelligent people – many of whom volunteered their skill and their time to Look Hear – and I’m not sure we could’ve maintained these relationships quite as effectively in a larger city. There is a strong supportive nature among designers here, where a lot of us will help each other out through collaboration or advice, which inturn strengthens the relationships designers have with one another. It doesn’t hurt having a university here either, as it helps to keep enthusiasm and energy levels high, which is fed directly back into the design community.

The Australian design industry is largely centred around our major capital cities of Sydney & Melbourne. How do you think we can strengthen the ties between these cities and the rest of the country, as well as the presence of regional Australian studios on the world stage?
Stop thinking locally and start thinking globally. The best Australian studios have already recognised this and no longer treat distance as a disability, but more so an opportunity to engage with a wider audience.

What is one thing a visitor must do when they visit your town?
I’d recommend visitors to check out the Renew Newcastle initiated projects. RN has had a big role in rejuvenating the Newcastle CBD by supporting a diverse range of skilled local designers and innovators through allocating shopfronts and workspaces. It’s a great idea and its worked. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, I could show you where to get wicked smoothies that’ll knock your socks off.

Take a look at Zookraft’s work here.
For more information about Newcastle, visit this site.

Go far west to Fremantle with Hoop Studio.
Make your way south to Canberra with New Best Friend.
Pop up north to the tropics with Zann St Pierre.

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