This year’s Melbourne Design Week centred on the topic “design values”, covering furniture, objects, installations, publishing and architecture. Apart from the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the other key venue for exhibitions and events was Watchmakers, a temporary exhibition space in Collingwood donated by the owner of Piccolina Gelateria, who will be building their kitchen and gelateria in the space following the event. Folk Architects was responsible for its transformation, stripping back the space to its original patina and applying subtle use of mirrored Laminex to provide an ideal site for the experimental exhibitions within. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s event.
1. 26 Original Fakes
This exhibition at the Watchmakers venue by young designer/curators Dale Hardiman and Tom Skeehan of Friends & Associates challenged 26 designers to modify a fake Jasper Morrison Hal chair as a statement on Australia’s replica industry. The resulting show explored a huge range of issues, from authenticity, to ethics, to material concerns, with a dose of humour thrown in. I was very pleased to write the accompanying exhibition text myself – see my separate post. More on 26 Original Fakes.
This exhibition text was originally written by Penny Craswell for 26 Original Fakes, an exhibition curated by Dale Hardiman and Tom Skeehan of Friends & Associates as part of Melbourne Design Week.
Fake furniture takes the original design and perverts it. The image in the magazine might look the same, but the object is fundamentally different – not just in quality, longevity, function and aesthetics, but also in its very essence. What makes the original authentic is stripped away and all you are left with is an empty simulation. Read more →
The first solo exhibition of Phil Ferguson AKA Chili Philly at the Australian Design Centre crosses traditional boundaries of art, design, craft and performance.
A series of crochet hats made in bright colours (often in the shape of food or other recognisable fun shapes), the work is simple in some respects, but understanding it as just that would be to sell it short. Ferguson does not make crochet hats as artworks, or even to sell. Instead, he makes the hat, wears the hat and posts an image of himself wearing the hat onto social media. Read more →
Australia’s relaxed outdoor lifestyle, unique natural beauty, history and culture are reflected in our approach to architecture. Seven architects and interior designers reflect on the character of Australian design.
Australian architects are influenced, like all architects, by the context of their project – whether that’s a bush setting, an ocean view or an urban laneway. In Australia, this sometimes means taking account of proximity to the bush, potential floods and fires, access to fresh water. Our tendency to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors has also had a huge influence on our design choices. Architect Peter Stutchbury believes this has an impact on our architecture: “Recreation permeates our thinking. Verandahs, gardens, courtyards, swimming pools, ponds, clothes lines, tree swings and vegetable gardens were all, until recently, integral to the design brief.” Read more →
The work of Perth-based designer Penelope Forlano explores memories, heirlooms and intergenerational meaning. En_Case (Engraved Casegoods) is a modular furniture piece with a series of patterns laser engraved to form texture on timber. These patterns act as visual snippets of memory; new combinations can be selected from a wide range of patterns to create a personal, customised version.
For this particular piece, Forlano conducted an interview with a family about their personal and ancestral past, going back as many generations as they knew about. Recurring or overlapping themes and stories, including significant places and experiences, were then translated into patterns. Read more →
Guest contributor Belinda Hungerford visits the Art Gallery of NSW exhibition Modern Impressions: Australian Prints from the Collection.
Modernism arrived in Australia at about the same time as other parts of the world and reached all aspects of Australian culture, with its crowning glory arguably the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Modernism was especially embraced by women with its designs quickly adopted in the domestic sphere through soft furnishings, glassware, crockery, furniture, lighting and women’s clothing. Publications such as the Home magazine were also instrumental in promoting the modernist aesthetic. Modern art began to appear on the walls with women not just admirers but practitioners too.
During the 1920s and 1930s women dominated the modern art movement with various speculations relating to social change as to why. In conjunction with the loss of many men during WWI, the profitability of art-making had declined between the wars resulting in a lessening number of male artists. This, in tandem with the growth of social freedom, a development particularly beneficial for women, meant that more and more women were able to pursue careers with many choosing an artistic life. Those with independent means also took the opportunity to travel and study abroad. Read more →
While the word “cloister” evokes images of monks roaming crumbling monasteries, in fact the term merely refers to a covered walkway, usually with garden connections. Melbourne-based practice MRTN Architects has used the architectural device in a new alteration of a Victorian-era single-fronted terrace house in Carlton.
The addition to the house is placed at the back of the site, with the cloister connecting the two buildings. This layout has a number of benefits, offering an internal link between the two buildings while retaining valuable garden space. By orienting the cloister at the south of the site, the property also gains access to northern sunlight. Read more →
Sydney-based ceramicist Hayden Youlley’s Paper Series translates the random creases from a crumpled piece of paper into an imprint that offers the perfect balance of chaos and control. “I cast this form by hand in porcelain, transforming the often-discarded flawed object, fragile and temporary, into something robust and permanent,” he says.
Youlley works from his studio in Sydney’s Marrickville, using a slip casting process for his Paper Series as well as his other ranges, Tessalate and I.M Light. Read more →
I was delighted to be asked to judge the Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award last month, in which students re-imagined Royal Doulton’s future in a collection of homeware and interior objects. The work was fantastically varied, with some students focusing on ceramics, some on metal, graphic design, textiles and other specialisations. The collections were inspired by the geometry found in nature, with prototypes supported by designs for retail display and point of sale, product packaging and Royal Doulton brand identity collateral. Each student also made a video about their entry, and there were some really creative responses – we almost wished we could give awards just for the videos.
The winner was Ripples by Joseph Turrin, a series of ceramic pieces with patterns from nature created by painting, then sponging off the clay around it. The other three finalists were Phase by Annie Kuang, a teapot and cup set with a simple and clever geometry based on the atoms in a H2O molecule, Vessels for Change by Tulla Carson, a set of vases that featured markings based on the points of a map of Sydney, and River by Sherli Liu, a tea set with shapes reminiscent of architecture set on a timber board with moving elements inspired by the motion of water in a river. Read more →
An opportunity to work three days a week from the Australian Design Centre as a writer in residence has given me insight into the organisation’s role in Sydney’s craft and design community, and made me think in new ways about my own role in this community.
The Australian Design Centre has been around for decades, first called Craft NSW then Object, before being rebranded last year as part of a move to new premises in William Street. Primarily known for exhibiting a range of work by Australian designers and craft practitioners across a range of themes, some of which go on to tour around Australia, the ADC also holds regular talks and other events, sells work by local makers in their shop, produces educational resources and has a vital role connecting the design community and advocating for design. Read more →