Gulnura Collection

Evoking the Lightning Snake

Melbourne, Victoria
Tatijana Plitt & Manapan

Winner/Gold Pin, Best Design Awards 2019, Product/Furniture
High Commendation, The Design Files Award 2020, Furniture
High Commendation, The Design Files Award 2020, Collaboration
Shortlisted, Dezeen Awards 2020, Design/Workplace
Shortlisted, AIDA Awards 2020, Object – Furniture and Lighting (Professional)

The Gulnura Collection is 65,000 years in the making. In an age of technology and fast furniture, the collection exhibits an innovative blend of Indigenous craft practices and progressive design touchpoints.

Imbued with rich narrative by its makers, the Gulnura Collection is a collaborative exercise between our studio and Manapan Furniture — an Indigenous-owned enterprise on Milingimbi Island, East Arnhem Land — whom we worked with to create bespoke, handcrafted furnishings for the executive zone at Melbourne Airport.

Our response to the project’s furniture brief involved regular engagement and consultation with Manapan’s craftspeople. We worked closely with Manapan’s founder, Mark White; senior craftsman, Josiah Baker; and Milingimbi elder, Keith Lapulung, relaying our primary interior concepts of ‘Dynamic Movement’ and ‘Temporal Rhythm’. From these workshops emerged a coherent direction inspired by the mythical tale of ‘Gulnura’, the water-bringing lightning snake that visits Milingimbi every wet season.

“After a long, hot dry season, the Milingimbi people turn their gaze to the sky, waiting for the clouds to morph into the shape of Gulnura. When it points towards the island’s only waterhole, the Milingimbi people know that the rains will come, and fresh water will again be plentiful.”


Gulnura has been immortalised through symbolism. Crafted from Australian spotted gum, each piece uses native materiality as a canvas for Indigenous expression. The rounded footprint of the 16- and 10-seater Gulnura tables are informed by traditional battle and ceremonial shields, with intricate, scale-like carvings adorning their perimeters. A serpentine junction through the sectional top ensures easy transportation, while monolithic legs have been hollowed out to conceal cable management, before being hand-chiselled and stained dark for dramatic contrast.

Complementing these award-winning tables, the Gulnura Credenza is a low storage unit, topped with stunning, locally-quarried Australian marble. A spotted gum interior reveals a place to conceal technology and store serveware, behind a stained tambour frontage.

The result is a scalable family of furniture that can sit happily in any environment, be it boardroom, refined hospitality, or a residential dining setting.

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