Developed in response to the turbulent and complex colonial history of Tasmania, a new bespoke and limited edition design by UNSW Art & Design graduate Trent Jansen has been selected for presentation at the La Triennale di Milano 2016 as part of XX1T – the International Exhibition of 21st Century Design, perhaps the most important annual showcase of contemporary design trends in the world.    

XX1T focuses on ‘21st Century - Design After Design’ and explores the “collecting, mapping and selecting of the most original and innovative actions carried out in architecture, design, crafts, visual and performing arts, film, music, fashion by all creative individuals, groups, ‘tribes’ and schools” born after 1980.  

Trent Jansen’s The Briggs Family Tea Service reflects a number of these thematics.  The concept and design are wholly that of 34-year-old Jansen.  However the commission and execution of the Tea Services are a collaboration of savvy thinkers and specialist crafts people.

The project was originally commissioned by Broached Commissions, a pioneering Melbourne-based company that initiates bespoke and limited edition design collections, all of which respond to different events in Australian history.  To make the particular elements of the Tea Service, Jansen teamed up with Australian ceramicist, Rod Bamford (also a lecturer at UNSW Art & Design), Australian gold and metalsmith, Oliver Smith, and Tasmanian Indigenous crafts woman, Vicki West.

The history of the Briggs family dates back to 1805, when 14-year-old George Briggs arrived at Port Jackson from England to work as a fur seal hunter. The Briggs Family Tea Service represents the marriage of George Briggs, a free settler to Tasmania, to Woretermoeteyenner of the Pairrebeenne people, and the four children they had together. The tea service brings together the materials common for water holding to each culture: porcelain in Britain and bull kelp in Tasmania, representing the beginnings of a hybrid culture. The Briggs Family Tea Service references the lives of George, Woretemoeteryenner, and four of their children, Dolly, Mary, Eliza and John.     

The Briggs Family Tea Service was selected from more than 500 projects from 30 countries to be part of the New Craft exhibition in Milan.  This component of the Triennale aims to display “technological innovation and excellence in manufacturing”.    

Taking more than two years to complete, only five limited edition Tea Sets have been made.

The international exhibition ‘21st Century - Design After Design’ is a key part of the wider XXI Triennale di Milano 2016 which incorporates a vast program of exhibitions, events, competitions, festivals and meetings throughout the city. This edition of the Triennale touches on key questions such as the issue of gender in design; the impact of globalization on design; the transformations brought about by the dawn of the twenty-first century and the crisis of 2008; the relationship between city and design; the relationship between design and the accessibility of new information technologies; and the relationship between design and craftsmanship.