Bob Hawke College, image by Douglas Mark Black

A Leading Light in Design

  •   1 October 2012

Designer, artist and researcher Penelope Forlano has taken out the coveted spot as The Luminary in this year’s INDE.Awards. The Luminary is the INDE.Awards category that recognises the ongoing contribution of an industry icon, whether they’re someone who excels, ahead of the pack, or makes a distinctive mark on their discipline.

The Luminary award is made possible by Wilkhahn, the leading German manufacturer of dynamic and ergonomic office furniture. Wilkhahn is committed to shining a spotlight on the individuals making a difference in the world of design just as it is a bright star within its own realm.

Penny Forlano, image by David Broadway

Blair Coventry, Director of Sales, Wilkhahn remarked, “The INDE.Awards provide recognition but more importantly they provide inspiration by showcasing and celebrating not only the projects from the last year but also the people that create them.”

Forlano is a multidisciplinary powerhouse, with interests spanning design anthropology, community engagement through public art, material experimentation and the reinterpretation of notions of ‘women’s work’. These perspectives have shaped her similarly multifaceted design career, which encompasses installations, exhibitions, art, furniture and teaching.

Shield of Voices, image by Douglas Mark Black

“I’m truly grateful and honoured to be recognised by my peers and the jury for this award,” Forlano said in her acceptance speech at the 2021 INDE.Awards. 

“I really wanted to express my gratitude to my colleagues and also thanks to my clients who have enabled me to take on these creative opportunities,” she added.

Significantly, Forlano’s projects include creating Shield of Voices during her residence at the Parliament of Western Australia and designing From the Skies with Aboriginal Elder Doolann Leisha Eatts for Perth’s International Airport terminal.

Coventry commented, “At Wilkhahn we believe in good design, as do the Luminaries. As exemplar practitioners, the Luminaries strive to design spaces that are well executed with fine aesthetics, atmosphere and function. These experts draw on their experience and utilise their learnings, both good and bad, to create spaces that are long lasting, and emulating our products, they want their spaces to be used, to maintain relevance and be long lasting.” 

From the Skies, image by Rob Frith

Forlano is a well-recognised researcher in her field, having been awarded the Humanities Research of the Year Award from Curtin University in 2011. Her 2018 thesis ‘Making Custodians; A Design Anthropology approach to designing emotionally enduring built environment artefacts’ explores emotional and psychological consumption practices.

Throughout her established career in designing and making, Forlano has recorded myriad accolades, including the prestigious Australian Good Design Award, setting a precedent for research-based designers in the Australian community.