International Indigenous Design Network
Established in 2007, at the ico-D World Design Congress in La Habana (Cuba), INDIGO—the International Indigenous Design Network—is an open platform that connects designers worldwide in an effort to explore our understanding of indigenous design. INDIGO’s mission is to provide an open and inclusive space for reflection, discussion and action regarding the contemporary interpretation an application of traditionally inspired Indigenous design. To promote, encourage and facilitate relevance while respecting its historic and aboriginal legacy. INDIGO’s vision is to provide an online forum for sharing ideas, information that fosters discourse and understanding about the representation of Indigenous culture in design practice. As more and more designers work within a global context seemingly without borders, INDIGO provides a medium for design practice as it contributes to the formation of national cultural identities. Through its participants and projects, INDIGO will encourage and facilitate research to gain insights into what makes design distinctive to its home, the connections to the place where it is made and for whom it is made.
INDIGO encourages design practitioners to follow best-practice protocols when representing Indigenous culture in their designs. INDIGO supports the use of Indigenous design protocols including the International Indigenous Design Charter. The International Indigenous Design Charter has been created to serve as a living document for ongoing consideration for the best practice protocols when working with Indigenous knowledge in commercial design practice. The International Indigenous Design Charter extends on the Australian Indigenous Design Charter—Communication Design which was co- authored by Dr Russell Kennedy and Dr Meghan Kelly from Deakin University and developed in collaboration with the Deakin University, Institute of Koorie Education (IKE), Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria (IADV) and the Management and Executive Board of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA).
According to (co-author) Russell Kennedy "The International Indigenous Design Charter is a best practice protocols document to assist designers when working on projects involving indigenous representation. It is intended that the Charter be used to help facilitate accurate and respectful representation of indigenous culture in design and associated media. The Charter provides guidance when referencing existing designs but also when creating new work. The 10 point guidelines have been written for use by both non-indigenous and indigenous designers. This charter argues that designers need access to a shared knowledge base but the process by which this occurs must be led and supported by Indigenous communities. The Charter supports the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Human Rights that states the need for it for indigenous peoples to be in control of their own culture. To do otherwise is merely to appropriate their rights, knowledge and status.” (see full interview here)
On 20 November 2016 ico-D Member Deakin University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ico-D as a part of a formal commitment to transfer the management of INDIGO to Deakin University for five years. The agreement included a plan to launch the International Indigenous Design Charter as a flagship project for INDIGO during 10 Days to Change the World in Montréal next year at the World Design Summit. The MOU signing happened at Greenland House, Copenhagen as part of Was.Is.Always event organised by Deakin University and aligned with the 10-year anniversary of the pilot INDIGO project called MIX06 involving Robert L. Peters, former ico-D President and Koopman Distinguished Chair in Visual Arts at the University of Hartford, Connecticut USA.