In 2016 the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust invited Deakin University to undertake a design research project to create a brandmark for the newly formed entity. Chaired by former Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks the board of trustees requested a design that represented community, stability and excitement.
The Deakin design team was made up of alumni, students and academic researchers. As with all practice based design research at Deakin the question was asked, “Is there an Indigenous story to tell in this project?”. The answer from the trust was, “We don’t know but are happy for you to investigate if there is”. It did not take long to find out that kardinia means morning sun or rising sun in the local Wadawurrung language. This discovery immediately provided a metaphor of a new dawn and new beginning. The final design by Todd Murphy cleverly linked the symbolism of a rising sun with the iconic visual elements of the Kardinia Park stadium lights.
Another interesting story that emerged from the process was a design that came close to being selected. This design by Amy McKay and Corrina O’Toole featured a Waderwarung symbol for meeting place. The process behind this design turned out to be an interesting case study for the ongoing research of the Australian Indigenous Design Charter.
While researching a solution Amy McKay discovered a Wadawurrung cultural symbol for meeting place that inspired her. At this point Amy was asked to put her design on hold while an appropriate way forward was investigated. The Wadawurrung owned this symbol so it required a different process of development, which fortunately the client was happy for us to pursue. The next step was to contact Deakin’s Institute for Koorie Education to see if they could introduce us to the appropriate Wadawurrung representative.
Corrina O’Toole (Wadawurrung Woman) was identified as the right person and the introduction was made. After a detailed conversation Corrina agreed to work with Amy McKay to produce, what turned out to be an effective solution involving the contemporary interpretation of traditional culture.
Working in collaboration Amy and Corrina were able to maintain the cultural integrity of the meeting place narrative in a design that communicated on multiple levels.
Interestingly the research for this project also revealed other Indigenous connections to Geelong such as Thomas Wills. Wills, the originator of Australian Rules Football was allegedly inspired by his first hand experience playing the local Aboriginal game of Marngrook as a child.
The important aspect of the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust case study is that it demonstrates what can happen if designers asks one simple question of every brief they undertake, “Is there an Indigenous story within this project?” It was also an effective test for the Australian Indigenous Design Charter.