Founder of Design Tasmania Gary Cleveland dies

Tasmanian designer Gary Ogle Cleveland has passed away following a short illness.

Born in 1930, Cleveland was a key player in the formation and development of design culture and community in Tasmania, including founding Design Tasmania in 1976. Originally from St Louis, Missouri, Cleveland founded the organization to showcase the work of Tasmanian designers and promote the growth of the industry in the state. He also founded the Tasmanian Wood Design Collection in 1991.

On behalf of Design Tasmania, former chair and personal friend of Cleveland’s, Pippa Dickson, wrote that Cleveland’s “intellect and curiosity” gave him “enduring energy.”

“He leapt across conceptual fences unscalable for most of us but, he would be there to lend a hand, and to pull us up. He was always challenging the shape of our beliefs and knowledges. His unerring questioning and expanded perspective provided space to consider additional ways to understand, he continually pushed to generate awareness and to shine light into dark places and on persistent problems.

“His idealism signalled hope and eternal optimism towards positive transformation. He gave us pause to consider the wonder of our world, our relationships, to be eternally curious and to find inspiration in simplicity.

“Gary involved his friends in his pursuit to create a more stable, caring, fair, balanced and sustainable world. He founded an organisation, ‘Budgets for Care’, as an exceptionally progressive governance strategy ‘…to assist an organization’s ethics…as a tool for… continuing prosperity as it responds to contemporary societal and ecological anxieties.’ At one time he wrote to me that he had ‘…just become plain sad that our species can ignore its responsibility for others, either human or non-human. That is, until something (like climate change) threatens oneself (me).’

“Gary’s death is timely right now, bringing into sharp relief his principles and the importance of community, family, friendships and connecting.”

Design Tasmania will honour Cleveland with a memorial once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

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