Review: Connecting creators at Factory Design District

By Penny Craswell

It was bad luck that the worst storm to hit Sydney in decades happened to coincide with the most exciting new design event to make its debut in the city this year. Factory Design District is the brainchild of Kobe Johns who brought her previous experience on DesignEX and London Design Festival to the event, which ran over three days as part of Vivid Ideas.

Johns now runs joinery workshop JP Finsbury with her partner (in work and in life) Adam Price and envisaged Factory Design District as a way for manufacturers and makers to connect with the design industry and the design-loving public.

Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto
Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto

The mission of the event, which included stands by some 30 exhibitors, was to start a dialogue between those people who work in timber, metal, fabric etc. and those who are curious about the process of making, or who may want bespoke or off-the-shelf Australian-made and designed goods. Read more

Design for good: Wildlife conservation with Egg Picnic

By Penny Craswell

Egg Picnic is a Sydney-based design duo devoted to wildlife conservation. A mutual love of both design and the natural world was the starting point of the partnership which began when Chilean graphic designer and illustrator Camila De Gregorio met Australian industrial designer Christopher Macaluso in Milan in 2009. They found inspiration in each other’s work, collaborating across 2D and 3D to create illustrations, characters, prints, objects and art toys – at first in Milan, then in Santiago.

Galah by Egg Picnic. Image: supplied


Now based in Sydney, the pair sell illustrations, art toys and objects depicting birds and wild animals, using simple lines and shapes to create characters that tread a fine line between art, design and cartoon, but also exude a serene stateliness that is utterly contemporary. Prints of individual species include the Hooded Plover, Australian Magpie, Galah and Spotted Eagle Ray (to name just a few), while larger prints such as Marsupials of Australia or Birds of Australia feature a line up of creatures. All prints are signed and include information about the species with the purchase. Read more

Milan 2016: Ex.t thinks beyond the bathroom

By Penny Craswell

Based in Florence, Italy, ex.t has always pushed boundaries when it comes to bathroom design, striving for simplicity and elegance while thinking outside the basics of bath, basin and bowl. This year, they launched two new ranges, in both cases commissioning a non-bathroom designer to create something different to go alongside their bathroom products.

Plateau and Raso designed by Sebastian Herkner for ex.t. Image: supplied
Plateau and Raso designed by Sebastian Herkner for ex.t. Image: supplied

In the case of the new Plataeu and Raso collection, German furniture designer Sebastian Herkner was approached to design a range that includes mirrors and pendant lights in addition to washbasin, console and bathtub. An architectural language is created through the use of a shelf that sits just behind and below the rim of the basin, console and bath, creating a functional space to rest bathroom items, while also adding the illusion of a shadow or extra dimension. The mirror features the same shadow, an extension to the oval shape by way of a transparent frame on one side only. Meanwhile, the Raso lighting pendants in pink, grey, white and transparent glass offer a complementary design object that softens the bathroom interior. Read more

Review: Connect(us) light installation by Warren Langley

By Penny Craswell

A ribbon of light twists and turns above a pedestrian street in Perth’s latest urban renewal project, Kings Square, this is Connect(us), the latest light installation by Sydney-based artist Warren Langley.

Connect(us) by Warren Langley, Perth, by night. Photo: Trent Baker
Connect(us) by Warren Langley, Perth, by night. Photo: Trent Baker


Warren has been working with the medium of light and glass for over 30 years, creating individual light installations for the Shanghai World Expo in 2011, as well as more permanent lighting displays and public artworks such as a tower made of glass and light at the Canberra Glassworks and Aspire, a forest of sculptural trees in light under the underpass in Sydney’s Pyrmont, as well as major project for Parliament House Canberra, the Maison de la Opera, Amiens, France and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, USA.  Read more

Studio profile: Industrial designer Andrew Simpson of Vert

By Penny Craswell

Visiting his studio in Sydney, Andrew Simpson’s approach to design is instantly made clear. His studio and design house, called Vert, is packed full of prototypes, design objects and machines. As well as being a place where the design team gets on with their computer-based design work, the space is full of objects at every stage of making.

The VM Case being hand finished by Andrew Simpson of Vert. Photo: supplied
The VM Case being hand finished by Andrew Simpson of Vert. Photo: supplied

This is emblematic of Andrew’s approach to design. He wants to know how things are made, and to improve on that process himself by making something new, by “experimenting at the process edge of making” as he phrases it. Read more

Object stories: Hoshi lounge by Tom Skeehan

By Penny Craswell

The new Hoshi range, including lounge, armchair and bench, is the latest work by emerging Canberra-based designer Tom Skeehan, working with furniture supplier Stylecraft. Loosely translating as “star” in Japanese, Hoshi is inspired by the designer’s travels in Japan: “I have personally experienced their deep attraction to materials and process, combined with a rich understanding of how an object is made and the purpose / life cycle of the work.”

Hoshi lounge designed by Tom Skeehan for Stylecraft. Image: supplied
Hoshi lounge designed by Tom Skeehan for Stylecraft. Image: supplied

“Aesthetically, I admire the restraint and often minimal approach to many aspects of Japanese culture,  placing a strong emphasis on the overall process and individual daily ritual,” he adds. Read more

Five designs from Milan (from afar)

By Penny Craswell

This year I’m reporting on the fair from home in Sydney, but thanks to email and social media (hello Instagram), there is plenty filtering through already from the world’s largest furniture design event, the Milan Furniture Fair. Here’s five designs that have instantly caught my attention, from designers near and afar, even before the fair begins.

1. Ross Gardam’s Polar Desk Lamp

Since launching his studio in Melbourne in 2007, Ross Gardam has launched several furniture and lighting pieces and his Polar desk lamp is being shown at Ventura Lambrate in Milan this year. These photos by Haydn Cattach show a variety of colours and backdrops – it will be interesting to see how these translate to different environments.

Polar desk lamp by Ross Gardam. Photo: Haydn Cattach
Polar desk lamp by Ross Gardam. Photo: Haydn Cattach

Read more

Review: Green Ladder pavilion by Vo Trong Nghia

By Penny Craswell

The latest Fugitive Structures pavilion to be commissioned by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) is a bamboo structure called “Green Ladder” designed by architect du jour Vo Trong Nghia whose mission is to bring back greenery into the city via architecture, especially in his home country of Vietnam.

Green Ladder designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects for the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: Dianna Snape
Green Ladder designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects for the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: Dianna Snape


In my role as media consultant of the Fugitive Structures architecture pavilion series for SCAF, I was able to meet Nghia and also speak to him about the structure, as well as hear some behind-the-scenes details of the bamboo treatment process used on the installation. Read more

Sydney house, with Hawaiian verandah

By Penny Craswell

A Hawaiian-style verandah that opens completely to the outdoors has transformed an introverted Federation Queen Anne era 1900s house in Sydney’s North Shore, with design by Luigi Rosselli Architects. The architecture team were inspired by the Hawaiian ‘lanai’ verandah which is usually furnished – more like an open-sided living room that the traditional verandah.

Custom shutters, design by Luigi Rosselli Architects. Photo: Justin Alexander
Custom shutters, design by Luigi Rosselli Architects. Photo: Justin Alexander


In order to create a true ‘lanai’ verandah, the architects designed custom shutters that are tall and able to slide, as well as being supported column-free over the long span of the verandah, with options for various levels of shading according to the sun, wind and other environmental factors. Read more

Object stories: Carafe Table by Charles Wilson

By Penny Craswell

The Carafe table has a visual and structural complexity to it that is characteristic of the work of Charles Wilson, a Sydney-based designer who worked in close collaboration with Herman Miller over a period of years to complete the project.

Living Edge_Carafe table designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller_009-5
Carafe table with drawer designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller


The underside features a series of compartments in moulded plywood including open shelves as well as a closed, sliding drawer that opens both ways, sloping inwards to create a geometry that is tucked in under the tabletop. The leg structure spans to the corners of the table, supporting the shelves but visually forming a third layer underneath that is drawn together at the centre in a distinctive T cross-section which Wilson says references industrial structures. Read more