Koskela believes in a Reconciled Australia
The gap has loomed too large for too long and Koskela is determined to help bridge it. Using our design and production skills we collaborate with First Nations peoples to create contemporary design ideas and products that celebrate First Nations histories and cultures.
Australians live on ancient lands that have born witness to the world’s oldest continuing culture. Our nation’s recent history is full of trauma, and in front of us lies a long and complex road towards healing. Koskela is deeply committed to journeying along that road, and we encourage others to join us.
Koskela was founded in 2000. In 2009 the company had a solid foundation to realise the founding vision of Sasha Titchkosky and Russel Koskela: design as a vessel for social change.
This idea put into practice involves designing products that showcase the creativity and artistry of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Products that support self-determination by providing an income independent of Government welfare. Products that are beautiful and sought-after, which introduce the cultural stories and practices of First Nations peoples into physical spaces around the country.
We started with the Yuta Badayala (In A New Light) pendant lampshades, woven by the Yolngu weavers of Elcho Island Arts, and we have not stopped collaborating with First Nations owned and operated organisations since.
As of 2023 we have returned $1.4 million to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Not a bad feat for a small Australian furniture and design company.
Designer: Geyer / Photographer: Benjamin Ward
How we fund social impact
1% of all Koskela product sales go towards the realization of our projects and collaborations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres and artists.
This 1% is derived from the sale of other Koskela items such as furniture and our work on corporate projects, equating to 10% of our profits.
First Nations Woven Lighting
Three years in development, the Yuta Badayala (In A New Light) pendant lighting collaboration with Elcho Island Arts was launched in 2009. Happily, today, collaborations with First Nations owned and operated Art Centre’s are part of the zeitgeist, but back then it was an unprecedented partnership.
The concept is simple: Koskela designs the frames but doesn’t interfere in the artists’ interpretation of them. The Yolngu weavers harvest pandanus and kurrajong fibre, which are dried and dyed to create the woven materials. Koskela’s frames become the weavers’ canvases and each one is uniquely interpreted. When they arrive back in Sydney, they are wired as pendants and available for Koskela customers to purchase in store or online.
The phenomenal success of this collaboration cemented Koskela’s commitment to working with First Nations communities and has led to several more woven lighting collaborations with Art Centres including:
- Bula’Bula Arts
- Ngarrindjeri Weavers
- Elcho Island Arts
- Milingimbi Arts and Culture
- Moa Arts
- Tjanpi Desert Weavers
- Yinarr Maramali
- Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini
These lights can be seen in homes and workplaces nationally and internationally, welcoming the textures of Australia’s bush, and talents of First Nations peoples.
Project: Iuk at EY / Designer: Gensler / Collaborator: Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini / Photographer: Little Rocket
Project: Maker's Dozen dining precinct / Collaborator: Centre for Appropriate Technologies (CfAT) / Developer: LendLease
Project: The Reflection Pods at Westpac / Designer: Gaawaa Miyay Designs / Photographer: Maree Homer
First Nations Design Facilitation
Koskela’s success collaborating with Art Centres has created the opportunity to develop large-scale and ambitious First Nation design projects. These are the centrepoint of fitouts for some of the biggest organisations in the country. Koskela acts as the facilitator, working with clients, designers, consultants, coordinators, manufacturers, and artists to meaningfully embed First Nations spirit in spaces where it has never been seen before.
The Koskela Gallery
The Koskela Gallery is a dedicated space for work from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and community art centres. The Gallery's aim is to increase the visibility and accessibility of First Nations arts and cultures, and raise awareness of the role that artists and community art centres play in keeping Culture strong.
The Gallery presents six curated exhibitions throughout the year, focused on emerging art for new collectors.
All of our exhibitions spotlight an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist or art centre. Koskela has developed strong relationships with artists and art centres through our social impact work, and we are proud to also support their art making practices. The talent of contemporary First Nations artists is immense, and their work is available at price points which are accessible to most people.