Dr Rohan Nicol

PhD (CSU), BA Honours (ANU), Grad Dip (ACU)
Lecturer, Head of Gold and Silversmithing and Design Arts degree coordinator
College Arts & 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.


I am Deputy Head of School at the Australian National University, School of Art and Design (ANU, SOA&D) and Head of the School’s internationally recognised, Jewellery and Object workshop where am Senior Lecturer.
My research has identified the role and impact of Studio Craft and Design in the Australian innovation system, specifically in partnership with Australian manufacturers and brands to provide broad forms of social, cultural and economic wealth. Other research evaluates the impact of craft and critical design on ethical consumption at home as a scalable strategy to address the various crises we face as individuals, families, communities and nations. My research and teaching have been recognised through nationally competitive awards, via acquisition in national collections and through publication in world class forums. I was recipient of the prestigious nationally competitive Bombay Sapphire Design Award for my lighting range and I have been recognised by a Vice Chancellor’s award for tutoring.
I have established standing and esteem from my discipline nationally, appointed as a consultant to the National Contemporary Jewellery Award and as Chair of the forthcoming Jewellers and Metalsmiths group of Australia (JMGA) conference. I am also a board member of the ACTs peak craft and design body, Craft ACT. I am regularly asked to examine HDR candidates nationally and internationally in craft and design related areas.


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:  10 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers