Australian Volunteers International

For more than 60 years the Australian Government has been supporting international volunteering as a means of fostering cultural understanding and development. Since its launch, Australian Volunteers International has enabled more than 15,000 volunteers to respond to challenges across the Indo-Pacific region as part of the government’s international aid program.

Diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability are at the heart of Australian Volunteers program—so when the organisation needed to relocate its headquarters to Melbourne’s Fitzroy, these values became the key design drivers for interior architects, Dasch Associates, and design team, Jonik.

As a charitable organisation, Australian Volunteers International needed to meet the needs of its 50 office-based staff on a minimal budget—but was also keen to convey its key values throughout its new offices. While Dasch Associates mapped out the office design—a natural palette consisting almost entirely of sustainably sourced or recycled materials—Jonik was tasked with creating custom furniture and a giant, six-metre-wide map of the world to represent the many regions within which the charity operates.

For Jono Klein, director of Jonik, the task presented an exciting creative opportunity. “The map sits inside a booth seat in an open plan kitchen that doubles as an informal meeting space, and the entire office has high ceilings—so there was a lot to consider”, reveals Klein. “The only thing we knew for sure was that the map needed to be three dimensional. While acoustics are always important, the mural is the main visual feature in the office and our main concern became finding a solution that would enable us to create the desired 3D effect that the architect was looking for”.

Acoustic challenges

Having worked with Autex on many previous projects, Klein was already aware of one of its newest innovations, Etch™—a decorative wall fabric that comes in more than 30 different colour options, custom cut in-house to any design specifications. The Jonik team selected a warm, muted orange for the Etch overlay—which the map design was laser-cut into—and Autex’s Cube™ acoustic panel for the backing. The result was a stunning engraved mural map of the world with high-performing acoustic properties, which also acts as a practical pinboard for meetings.

“We work with Autex a lot and consider them a partner”, explains Klein. “We love their ability to provide such a wide variety of custom options, their innovative products, their creativity and willingness to come up with crazy ideas. On top of all that, they’re a local business and their product ticks all the boxes for speed, price and sustainability”, he enthuses. “The client loves the results, the texture of the wall and the level of sharpness and detail we’ve been able to achieve on the map. It looks great!”.

“We work with Autex a lot and consider them a partner”, explains Klein. “We love their ability to provide such a wide variety of custom options, their innovative products, their creativity and willingness to come up with crazy ideas.”