New application deadline > Thursday 10 June, 2021
Due to the challenges posed by the current lockdown in Victoria,
we have extended the deadline for applications.

Melbourne Fringe and Linden New Art are reinvigorating the Fringe Furniture exhibition and bringing the newly named Design Fringe exhibition to the Southside of Melbourne. To celebrate this important step, we will commission a significant new work by a mid-career First Nations designer. This work will form the centrepiece of the exhibition at Linden New Art, which will be hosted at the gallery from 4 September to 21 November 2021.

The successful applicant will receive a total fee of $10,000 plus GST.

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Linden New Art

Linden New Art supports brave new art by mid-career artists and engages visitors through inspiring, thought-provoking exhibitions of new work. We exhibit quality new contemporary art by mid-career artists, support and mentor artists and connect with our community by providing exhibitions, education and public programs.

Melbourne Fringe

Melbourne Fringe democratises the arts. Our vision is cultural democracy – empowering anyone to realise their right to creative expression. We support the development and presentation of artworks by, with and for the people of Melbourne, running the annual festival, the year-round venue Fringe Common Rooms at Trades Hall, and a range of arts sector leadership programs.

IMAGE > Robert Fielding, Routes / Roots [installation view], 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Mimili Maku Arts. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.

IMAGE > Border Lines, 2017, [installation view]. Image courtesy of Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Photograph: David Marks.

Be bold


From 2021, Melbourne Fringe will launch Design Fringe, a program that evolves the 34-year history of Fringe Furniture to create a stunning new design exhibition and events program to reach design loving audiences across Melbourne. Design Fringe will be an exhibition with a bold curatorial theme to which artists must respond. This year’s theme is Home.

The exhibition will be presented at Linden New Art as well as other satellite spaces in St Kilda. This marks the beginning of an ongoing partnership between Melbourne Fringe and Linden New Art, in presenting the Design Fringe exhibition.

The commission will support the production of significant, new, high-quality design work(s) by a mid-career First Nations artist, designer or collective living in Australia. The commission recognises the vital contribution of First Nations artists to the field of design in Australia and internationally. This commission aims to allow the recipient to extend their practice and produce ambitious new work.


A keynote work responding to the theme of Home will be commissioned as a centrepiece to the Design Fringe exhibition.

Australia has the longest continuous living civilisation in the world and our nation has been home to our First Nations people for millennia. Ideas about what makes a home, connections to country, place and people are important for all  and we see this theme as both a provocation to create work that might be a political act and an opportunity for learning and connection.

The commissioned work must represent contemporary design practice, including, but not limited to architecture, fashion, textiles, furniture, homewares, jewellery.

Expressions of interest will be accepted from individual artists and designers or collectives whose practices may be cross-disciplinary.

Proposed work should explore new terrain conceptually, materially, experientially or formally. Applicants are encouraged to consider current social or political issues relating to the theme of Home. We hope to see proposals that are thought-provoking, that will instigate dialogue, debate and reflection.

The commissioned artist, designer or collective will receive an all-inclusive fee of $10,000 excluding GST.

This will cover:

  • Artist fees
  • Costs directly arising from the involvement of the recipient(s) in the development, fabrication including all materials and equipment, installation and realisation of the commissioned work
  • Documentation of the work for pre-publicity
  • Transport to Linden New Art for installation
  • Travel
  • Site visits and project meetings
  • Research
  • Insurance (public liability at a minimum)
  • Engineering fees (if applicable)
  • Other certifications (if applicable)
  • Sub-contractors and consultant fees
  • Maintenance manual

IMAGE > Robert Fielding, Routes / Roots [installation view], 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Mimili Maku Arts. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.

IMAGE > Robert Fielding, Routes / Roots [installation view], 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Mimili Maku Arts. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.


The home is a primary space for design practice. From architecture and furniture to fabric and fixtures; from the smallest functional items used every day, to the most lavish, decorative or occasional luxuries. Homes often provide the inspiration and context for great design.

A home is somewhere that we can find belonging, acceptance, protection and safety. This can be grounded on geographical location or formed by the presence of loved ones and family. Our home can anchor our identity and help us remember who we are. We create homes of all kinds with care and creativity, in a way that embodies our spiritual and emotional needs and values.

The commissioned work will be displayed at Linden New Art, a heritage listed building in St Kilda. The gallery is located on the lands of the Yalukit Willam Clan of the Boon Wurrung people.

Built in 1871 the Linden mansion was the home of the Michaelis family and their fourteen children, until 1957 when it was sold and became a private hotel. Linden’s domestically scaled gallery spaces and Victorian architecture offer a unique space to which artists can respond. The history of the Linden building, as a former family home may also thematically inform proposed work(s). 

This commission will support work that thoughtfully engages with the theme of Home. Applicants must clearly articulate the connection between their work and this theme.


The commissioned work must take into consideration the size and installation limitations of the Linden building.

These include:

  • Doorways: H200cm x W85cm
  • Ceilings: H370cm
  • Works can be hung with screws from the ceiling and the walls, though certain areas of the ceiling and walls cannot bear any weight, and this will dictate where certain works can be placed.
  • The floorboards must not be damaged and cannot be screwed into
  • The weight of the work must be discussed with Linden New Art prior to install to ensure that the load is appropriate. Very heavy works may not be suitable. The weight bearing limit is 170KG, when spread over an area of 150 x 150cm.
  • Most of the galleries are exposed to natural light
  • Each gallery space is equipped with domestic power point (specify voltage?)

Linden New Art will provide two installation crew members and the work must be able to be installed in under three days.

Any hardware needed to display the work including any relevant technology such as TV monitors, projectors and media players must be supplied by the commissioned designer(s).

If the proposed work has moving parts, lights or sound components, these must be all tested and tagged by a qualified electrician before coming to the gallery. These components must be discussed also with the Linden Curator to ensure that they are suitable for being presented in a public space and no not pose any health and safety risks for visitors before installation. In some instances, an engineering report may be required, and this cost must be met by the commission fee.

A maintenance manual must be provided with instructions on how to clean and safely exhibit the work. This document must include details of any potential safety concerns for the work.

Designs must not involve any hazardous materials, open flames or uncontained water.

If the design is meant to have any interactive elements, the safety of these must be considered and detailed instructions for use provided.

Accessibility must be considered, and enough space left around the work for visitors to easily move through and around the work on display. 

IMAGE > Lisa Waup, carry me softly, 2019 [installation view]. Image courtesy of the artists and Baluk Arts. Photograph > Theresa Harrison Photography.

IMAGE > Gillian Garvie, Aboriginal Pride (Cloak 2), 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and Baluk Arts. Photograph > Theresa Harrison Photography.


To be eligible for the First Nations Design Commission you must:

  • Identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • Be a mid-career artist/ designer with at least ten years’ professional experience
  • Live in Australia
  • The commission may be given to an individual, a collective or an organisation such as an Art Centre working with a community of artists.


EOI Open: Thursday 29 April 2021
EOI Deadline: Thursday 10 June 2021
Assessments: 11 - 17 June 2021
Notification date: by Friday 18 June 2021

Installation dates: 24 August – 1 September 2021
Exhibition dates: 4 September – 21 November 2021
Opening: Friday 3 September 2021 – likely to be an online event
Fringe Festival dates: 30 September – 17 October 2021
Deinstallation: 22-24 November 2021 

Payment of commission fee:

  • 50% payment on signing of contract
  • 50% once installed in the gallery.

This payment schedule can be negotiated with the successful applicant to ensure that development costs are covered as needed.


Expressions of interest will be reviewed by a panel of industry professionals and representatives from the commissioning partners. 

The panel will be responsible for selecting from the EOIs the artist or collective who will be awarded the commission, as well as providing feedback and advice where needed for both successful and unsuccessful applicants. The decision of the assessment panel will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.


  • The success of your design will be judged using the following criteria:
  • Your consideration of the exhibition theme – Home – and your design’s capacity to raise important and relevant issues relating to this theme.
  • Your contribution to the exhibition in the form of a bold, innovative exhibition centrepiece.
  • Your consideration of the limitations and specifications of Linden New Art’s heritage gallery spaces.
  • Your previous experience as a designer and your demonstrated commitment to your field of design.

IMAGE > Robert Fielding, Routes / Roots [installation view], 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Mimili Maku Arts. Photograph: Theresa Harrison Photography.


All intellectual property and copyright ownership relating to the work will remain with the designer(s). A formal agreement outlining roles and responsibilities will be signed with the successful applicant.


Linden New Art
Juliette Hanson 
T > 03 9534 0099
E > 

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