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The Australian National University

Dr Rohan Nicol

PhD (CSU), BA Honours (ANU), Grad Dip (ACU)
Lecturer, Head of Gold and Silversmithing and Design Arts degree coordinator
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 61 2 61256529

Research interests

Research activities


My research makes strategic enquiry through creative practice and curatorial projects that are related to fields of art, craft and design. The two distinct streams of enquiry outlined below provide complex ‘problem sets’ that reveal new and significant findings. My findings are informed through the development of creative works including; Jewellery, accessories, functional objects and lighting. This is a practice-led approach to both problem definition and solution, which is adept in responding to situated, complex and networked problems. The creative works, through which the findings are generated, are disseminated through commercial markets and the cultural sector via exhibitions, through digital platforms and peer-reviewed publication.

Viable creative practice

One area of research interest specifically focuses on strategies to achieve financially viable studio based craft and design practice. This work is in response to research that has established the poor relative economic status of Artists (Throsby 2010). My work utilizes collaborative engagements with Australian manufacturing firms, new enterprising approaches to practice, and emerging technologies for creative and commercial benefit. In addition it has been a useful tool for evaluating state and federal government policy related to creative enterprises and the role of the arts in the Australian innovation system.  My research proposes a range of measures to address the relatively low economic status of professional craftspeople and designers in the Australian context. This provides valuable research-led currency to my teaching at ANU, in particular to students enrolled in the design arts degree.

Domestic Renewal

Domestic renewal is a ongoing international research project positioned at the intersection of art craft and design. This profound project asks what more our respective disciplines are capable of bringing to the table when its clearly alreay full.

DomRen, a speculative curatorial project culminated in an exhibition that has toured through 3 Australian states. A team of 17 participants was assembled from across Australia the U.S and U.K. The participants include Architects, Artists, Craftspeople and Independent Designers; convened with the objective to coproduce a table setting. The participants used a blog-based platform as the locus and conduit for collaboration.

The participants were simply asked to make work/ objects for a table setting and in the process to reflect on several themes that are universally significant. Key elements included the idea of urban renewal and the impact of increasingly rampant digital flows of ideas, information and capital in a globalised world and the impact of this fact on our individual and collective experience and identity.

While not intended to produce a conventional dining setting, the project nevertheless provides a clearly defined ‘setting’, which operates as a ‘safe place’, or ‘low risk’ environment in which cross-disciplinary dialogue can test ideas that contribute to new understanding of how we understand and orchestrate the domestic and by extension our wider man made urban environments.


Rohan Nicol is an artist, academic and curator with interests encompassing jewellery, silversmithing and design. He holds Qualifications from the Australian National University and Charles Sturt University where he was awarded a PhD.  His awards include the prestigious Bombay Sapphire design award and funding to conduct research from the Australia Council and Australian Universities. He regularly exhibits at peak venues in Australia and internationally. His work is held in collections including the Powerhouse Museum and the National Gallery of Australia.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  19 December 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers