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Inaugural Swayn Senior Fellow in Australian Design appointed

23 August 2019

The Alastair Swayn Foundation and the National Museum of Australia today announced the appointment of Ms Adrienne Erickson as the inaugural Swayn Senior Fellow in Australian Design.

In an appointment that will showcase Australian design in all its forms, Ms Erickson will lead the creation of a new National Museum curatorial centre: the Swayn Centre for Australian Design.

Developed over the next two years, the new centre will focus on all aspects of design, including architecture, landscape architecture, fashion, graphic design, furniture as well as product and digital design. The goal of the new centre will be to increase public connection to and appreciation of Australian design, through collections, collaborations, exhibitions, events and research.

The Senior Fellow appointment was made possible with the generous financial support of the Alastair Swayn Foundation — the legacy of eminent Canberra architect, the late Alastair Swayn AO. The appointment of the Swayn Senior Fellow in Australian Design is the first major initiative for the Foundation since its establishment.

Alastair Swayn Foundation chairman, Tim Ryan, welcomed the appointment, saying the charity’s mission is to support research into influences on Australian architecture and design and to promote education in architecture, design and technology.

‘This is a significant step for the Foundation as custodian of the legacy of Alastair Swayn. Increasing public awareness and appreciation of every aspect of Australian design through funding exhibitions, events and research is the core objective of the Foundation,’ said Mr Ryan.

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said Australian design deserves to be elevated in the public consciousness.

‘Design is central to the everyday lives of all Australians. From architecture and industrial design to fashion and the virtual design world, Australian design is having an impact on the global stage. I am delighted to announce Adrienne Erickson as the Swayn Senior Fellow in Australian Design.'

‘The appointment of Ms Erickson is possible through the generous support of the Alastair Swayn Foundation. Partnerships are integral to achieving the Museum’s vision and I am grateful for the Foundation’s generosity,’ said Dr Trinca.

Ms Erickson said she was excited to accept the role.

‘Leading the development of the Swayn Centre for Australian Design is an incredible opportunity to stimulate creativity, promote dialogue and support the development of Australian design. The Centre will encourage all Australians to value the creativity and diversity of Australian design and its critical role in helping us to adapt to the challenges of the future,’ said Ms Erickson.

Ms Erickson will work to appoint an advisory board of eminent Australians from the design field to inform and guide the development of the new centre.

Ms Erickson was selected from an outstanding field of applicants. She was instrumental in the growth of Australian participation in Beijing Design Week, the leading international platform for design in China. She was a lecturer in design for many years at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing and a landscape architectural consultant in China for 15 years.

Alastair Swayn was a committed member of the Canberra design community for more than 40 years and was a founding partner of Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn (DJAS), a renowned architecture firm in Canberra. In 2010, he was appointed as a Professorial Fellow at the University of Canberra and as the first ACT Government Architect.

Adrienne Erickson

Adrienne Erickson is a landscape architect with extensive experience and networks in design having worked in a diversity of roles including design professional, educator, strategy consultant, exhibition creative producer, and as a manager of cultural diplomacy initiatives. She has lived in Beijing for the past 15 years teaching design for many years at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, and most recently commissioning and producing Australian design events and exhibitions at Beijing Design Week and across China for the Australian Embassy in China.

Media contact: Tracy Sutherland, 02 6208 5338,  0438 620 710 or

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