Video: Christmas with One Two Tree

This is such a nice design story. Lucy and Ant McNamara were looking for a sustainable, Australian option for a Christmas tree when they decided to just go ahead and make their own. It was such a success that they created One Two Tree – trees that are not only beautiful, but also eco-friendly and long lasting, making them an excellent alternative to other Christmas tree options. Please enjoy their story in the video below.

One Two Tree with spots
One Two Tree with spots
One Two Tree comes in two sizes: 85cm tall and 150cm tall
One Two Tree comes in two sizes: 85cm tall and 150cm tall
Ant and Lucy McNamara of One Two Tree
Ant and Lucy McNamara of One Two Tree

Shelter Hacks event as part of Fugitive Structures

This post is really more of a thank you note for the Shelter Hacks event I curated on Wednesday – to the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation‘s Gene Sherman who is a continual inspiration, and to Danielle, Sophie and the rest of the team for being great to work with. Also thanks to the speakers: Fenella Kernebone for being a wonderful moderator, NSW Architects Registrar Timothy Horton for giving his time and expertise (as well as a good dose of humour) and Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline of MAPAA, the artist/architecture duo behind Owner Occupy at SCAF for sharing their ideas which were the inspiration for the evening’s discussion.

Tim Horton, Hugo Moline, Heidi Axelsen and Fenella Kernebone at Shelter Hacks. Photo: Penny Craswell
Tim Horton, Hugo Moline, Heidi Axelsen and Fenella Kernebone at Shelter Hacks. Photo: Penny Craswell

The panel discussion turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to throw around ideas about shelter, new housing models, how cities grow, the role of architects and policy-makers in creating human-centred dwellings. Read more

Video: Alphabeta by Luca Nichetto at London Design Festival

Alphabeta is a new lamp designed by Italian Luca Nichetto for Hem, a brand that only launched last September 2014 at the London Design Festival. Hem’s first UK retail store opens this Saturday 19 September as part of this year’s festival, and an installation celebrating Alphabeta will come to life from 21 September at Somerset House.

More about Hem

Try the Alphabeta online configurator

Sydney Architecture Festival rejuvenated

By Penny Craswell

I had the pleasure of being on the Sydney Architecture Festival committee in 2012, although I ended up spending more time on the sub-project Super Sydney than I did on the festival proper. At the time, the festival needed a complete overhaul, but this was never achieved – until now.

Sydney Architecture Festival
Sydney Architecture Festival’s new logo designed by Nowhere Famous

The appointment of Timothy Horton as NSW Architects Registrar and a new committee, including architecture writer and editor Peter Salhani, is responsible for the change. “The festival is completely transformed, as nine-year-old festivals should be!” says Peter. “Tim has spearheaded a return to its roots as the torchbearer for World Architecture Day, which kicks off on the Final day of SAF’15. The four-day program (2–5 Oct) is short, sharp and rich – engaging both allied design professions and the public.” Read more

Invitation: Shelter Hacks art and architecture discussion

By Penny Craswell

I’m pleased to announce that, as part of The Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation’s Fugitive Structures series, I am curating a series of art and architecture forums, exploring some of the ideas relating to the Fugitive Structures pavilions and installations. The first is on Wednesday 16 September at SCAF in Sydney and is called Shelter Hacks. This discussion is based on Owner Occupy by Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen currently showing at SCAF.

Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen: Owner Occupy, 2015, Timber dowel, Downee pipe fixings, copper saddles, cotton duck fabric. Prototype installation view, commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation.
Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen: Owner Occupy, 2015, Timber dowel, Downee pipe fixings, copper saddles, cotton duck fabric. Prototype installation view, commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation.

This “conversation curated by Penny Craswell” is moderated by TV and radio presenter Fenella Kernebone and includes four speakers: Tarsha Finney, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, UTS; Timothy Horton, Registrar, NSW Architects Registration Board; and Hugo Moline & Heidi Axelsen of MAPAA, architecture-artist duo, creators of Owner Occupy. Read more

Stash desk: Furniture design by Blu Dot

By Penny Craswell

I discovered Blu Dot while searching for a new desk for my home office. Using that most basic of tools – Google shopping search – I found many ugly pieces of furniture and many prohibitively expensive pieces of furniture. But I also some beautiful and more affordable options around – and the best for my room size and aesthetic was Blu Dot.

Stash desk by Blu Dot
Stash desk by Blu Dot


Designed in Minnesota, the brand was founded in 1997 by John Christakos, Maurice Blanks, and Charlie Lazor in response to their own need for affordable design furniture (read more of their origin story here). Perhaps because they were designing for a practical need, that’s what they created – practical furniture; while it looks great, I get the feeling that the aesthetics are secondary to the function, which is as it should be. What’s also interesting about their furniture is the small scale of it – it suits inner city living. Read more

Australian lighting innovation in Milan

By Penny Craswell

It’s that time of the year again, when all the major designers and design brands turn their attention to Milan for the annual Furniture Fair, happening in the second week of April. While I won’t be heading there myself this year, Ben Baxter of McDermott Baxter will be writing up some of the innovative lighting designs he sees there, while showing the Nimbus light.

Nimbus by McDermott Baxter
Nimbus by McDermott Baxter

Ruth McDermott and Ben Baxter will be showing Nimbus as part of Ventura Lambrate Station, one of four Australian studios showing work in this new part of the exhibition for emerging designers. Nimbus is a continuation of McDermott Baxter’s experiments into lighting, using new technology and a low energy philosophy to create innovation artworks and design pieces. Read more

National Gallery of Victoria announces Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture

By Penny Craswell

Some excellent news for those in the design and architecture community came from Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) last week – the establishment of a Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture. Institutional support of design in Australia has been patchy at best over the years, with excellent initiatives such as the State of Design (also Victoria), scrapped, while ideas for a Museum of Design a la London have never gained the critical government or institutional support needed to get them off the ground.

"I Dips Me Lid" by John Wardle Architects is the first NGV Commission for Ephemeral Architecture
“I Dips Me Lid” by John Wardle Architects is the first NGV Commission for Ephemeral Architecture

Design and architecture inhabit an unusual space. In many ways, the showing of work in a gallery or museum (or even festival) setting is not required, especially when you consider the strength of the actual industries themselves – Cochlear bringing the latest design innovation to the world, global architecture firms like Woods Bagot competing on the world stage and firms from Europe and North America turning to Australia during dark economic times. Read more

Review: Sydney design shop Urban Couture

By Penny Craswell

Natural materials, Scandinavian design style and a muted palette with a splash of pastel are the signature design markers of Sydney furniture and homewares store Urban Couture. The store is based in Sydney’s Ultimo and was started by stylist Katriarna and her partner Thomas but also sells online and has a pop up in Moore Park’s SupaCenta.

The Lisa Sofa from Urban Couture.
The Lisa Sofa from Urban Couture.

Katriarna and Thomas’s team of creatives is responsible for creating original designs, as well as selecting pieces from Scandinavian and Australian brands, while the website offers a Moodboard function, allowing users to combine various pieces to create a signature look for their interiors project.

Read more

Kayak design is elegant, lightweight and assembled by you

By Penny Craswell

Innovation lead at M&C Saatchi Ben Cooper and industrial designer Andrew Simpson from Vert have created the O Six Hundred kayak as a flat pack, with timber frame construction that slots together like a model aeroplane and a translucent skin that glows in the light.

The O Six Hundred Kayak with and without skin
The O Six Hundred Kayak with and without skin

The Sydney pair was inspired by 4000-year-old Inuit design, with a skin on frame construction – the first kayaks stretched animal skins over a wood or whalebone-skeleton frame. In this reimagining of the traditional design, the hoop pine plywood frame with 30 marine-ply ribs is encased in a lightweight translucent carbon fabric in one piece that laces up like a pair of sneakers on the bow. The O Six Hundred comes in 30 pieces and weighs less than 10 kg which means “if you’re strong enough to lift it, you’re smart enough to build it”. Read more