Object stories: Etched memories by Penelope Forlano

By Penny Craswell

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.

Hong Kong pattern by Penelope Forlano engraved on timber. Read more on The Design Writer blog
Hong Kong pattern by Penelope Forlano engraved on timber. Image: supplied

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

Review: Women and Modern Australian printmaking

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.

Ethel L Spowers Special edition 1936 colour linocut on thin ivory laid tissue 28.2 x 22.4 cm image; 35.4 x 25.7 cm sheet (irreg.) Art Gallery of New South Wales Purchased 1977

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

Melbourne house, with cloister

By Penny Craswell

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.

Carlton Cloister House by MRTN Architects. Photo:
Connecting old and new at Carlton Cloister House by MRTN Architects. Photo: Shannon McGrath

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

Object stories: Paper series ceramics by Hayden Youlley

By Penny Craswell

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.

Paper series in colour by Hayden Youlley. Photography: Amanda Prior
Paper series in colour by Hayden Youlley. Photography: Amanda Prior


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

Winners: Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award

By Penny Craswell

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.

Ripples by Joseph Turin, winner of the Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award 2016. Image: supplied
Ripples by Joseph Turrin, winner of the Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award 2016. Image: supplied
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

Notes from a design writer in residence

By Penny Craswell

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.

Australian Design Centre office, designed by Those Architects
Australian Design Centre office, designed by Those Architects

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

Top 10: Ethical design gift guide

By Penny Craswell

Design isn’t just about aesthetics, and to prove it, this ethical gift guide lists a few of the many designers and brands now donating to charity or committed to ethical practices. So, read on, this is your chance to give back this holiday season – not just to families and friends, but also to those in need.

The Pretty Fly pin by Annie Hamilton. Photo: supplied

1. Increasingly, community-minded makers and sellers are donating a portion of their profits to charities. Sydney-based multi-disciplinary designer Annie Hamilton donates 10% of sales from her pins and art prints to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre to help support and empower people seeking asylum in Australia. With a focus on insects and patterns inspired by plants, including the Pretty Fly enamel pin set consisting of venus fly trap and matching fly, Hamilton’s work also includes clothing and scarves, made locally and ethically in Sydney by a small team of makers in Redfern. Read more

Review: Out of Hand exhibition

By Penny Craswell

‘Out of Hand’ is a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum that explores how digital technology is enabling new materials, processes and objects. It features more than 60 works by architects, designers, fashion designers and artists from around the world, with many focusing on new uses for cutting-edge digital design, scanning and printing technologies.

Exhibition design by LAVA. Photo: Peter Bennetts
‘Who This Am’ by Kijin Park (left). Exhibition design by LAVA. Photo: Peter Bennetts

One of the most impressive aspects of ‘Out of Hand’ is the exhibition design by LAVA. The architecture studio won a competition to design the space, which consists of a series of curving pure white forms in vertical bands that flow through the space, creating walls, plinths and sculptural forms.  Read more

Marlu (kangaroo) furniture by Nicole Monks

By Penny Craswell

Marlu (kangaroo) is a new range of furniture by Indigenous Australian designer Nicole Monks that draws on her rich cultural heritage in a highly crafted, bespoke series of design furniture pieces that are profoundly Australian. (See my previous article on Lucy Simpson and Nicole Monks)

Nyinajimanha (sitting together) stool and table with kangaroo skin by Nicole Monks. Photo: Boaz Nothman
Nyinajimanha (sitting together) stool and table with kangaroo skin by Nicole Monks. Photo: Boaz Nothman

Launched at the Australian Design Centre in Sydney last week, the range features three seating elements: ‘wabarn-wabarn’ (bounce) inspired by the movement of a kangaroo, ‘walarnu’ (boomerang) inspired by the shape of the boomerang used to hunt the kangaroo and ‘nyinajimanha’ (Sitting Together) inspired by the gathering around a table or camp fire to eat kangaroo tail stew. Read more

Memphis: Avant-garde and the celebrity designer

By Penny Craswell

The news that David Bowie was a big collector of Memphis (over 100 items will go on auction at Sotheby’s in London on 11 November) makes sense – both were on the cutting edge of style in the 1980s and there is a little something of Ziggy Stardust in many of the designs.

Metropole clock, Memphis, designed by George J. Sowden, 1982
Metropole clock, Memphis, designed by George J. Sowden, 1982

Reflecting on Memphis, the Milan-based collective led by Ettore Sottsass that launched onto the international design stage in 1981, it is interesting to note its place in design history.  Read more