The Red Room by Hiromi Tango at Sydney Contemporary

By Penny Craswell

Multi-media artist Hiromi Tango invited reflection on our emotional responses to the colour red in a striking installation for kids (and adults) at Sydney Contemporary recently. Called The Red Room, the work lived up to its name, built as a small room filled with red, within the large expanse of the art fair at Carriageworks in Sydney.

Hiromi Tango in The Red Room at Sydney Contemporary. Image courtesy Hiromi Tango

As well as featuring red walls, the space was filled with red objects made by Hiromi and her team, as well as by visitors to the space who were provided with red materials, paper and crocheted flowers to add to the artwork. Larger items in the space included red light sculptures that illuminated the surrounds and a red hanging chair, encouraging you to climb over and into the installation itself and rest for a moment. Read more

Women in Design at Design Tasmania

By Penny Craswell

This is the third year of Women in Design, a conference with an all-female line-up of speakers held in Launceston by Design Tasmania. Attending for the first time this year, my expectations were high – those I’d spoken to who attended previous years had given glowing reports. And I was not disappointed – this conference is inspirational and empowering in a profound way. This year’s theme – design for social engagement – may have added to the overall sense that this group of women are not only inspirational, but also highly authentic, hard-working and intelligent. Each shared her research, design practice, business or personal experience with a level of truth and dedication to the subject that was outstanding.

Women in Design was held in Launceston. Photo: Bruce Moyle, Joffre Street Productions

The whole event began with a beautiful welcome to country by Tasmanian Aboriginal Elder Aunty Patsy Cameron who led a smoking ceremony – the coals from the fire warmed the cold Tasmanian air and sent up clouds of smoke from the burnt eucalyptus leaves. Cameron then prepared a bowl of ochre, painting a moon and two stars on the hand of each woman present, while the men were asked to dip their thumb in the ochre. After moving back inside and a presentation on local produce from Kim Seagram from Fermentasmania and Harvest Market Tastings, a panel discussion was led by Karina Clark, CEO of Design Tasmania and mastermind of this year’s Women in Design event. Clark interviewed two of the makers who worked with Kirsha Kaechele on the Pro Paradox exhibition currently on show in Design Tasmania’s gallery. Sabrina Evans (Sabia) discussed her textile and fashion work including the kimonos she made for the project, while Nana Bayer shared the story of her ceramics, including a series with shapes inspired by the vulva. Kirsha Kaechele, artist and art curator, wife of David Walsh of MONA fame and larger-than-life personality around Tassie, was on hand to describe how the pieces fit into the puzzle – a performative feast-as-installation that evolved from her fertility-themed wedding feast. Read more

Highlights from Melbourne Design Week

By Penny Craswell

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.

Tom Skeehan (left) and Dale Hardiman (right), curators of 26 Original Fakes at Watchmakers, part of Melbourne Design Week. Image: supplied
Exhibition view of 26 Original Fakes. Photo: Wayne Taylor

 

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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

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

Object stories: Softly sofa by Nick Rennie

By Penny Craswell

Melbourne designer Nick Rennie was recently in Paris where French design brand Ligne Roset launched his latest design at Maison & Objet – the Softly sofa. For Nick, the sofa is really about comfort, creating a compact shape with high cushions that provide effective support while being extremely comfortable.

Softly sofa by Melbourne designer Nick Rennie for Ligne Roset. Photo: supplied
Softly sofa by Melbourne designer Nick Rennie for Ligne Roset. Photo: supplied

“The idea came from placing a number of cushions together vertically to form the sides and the back of the sofa,” says Rennie. “It has quite a high seat level as well, so its super easy to get up from. And the higher back and sides also have a little flex to them and yet retain their stiffness, which allows great support.” Because of its compact size, the sofa is much more flexible than many other options. Read more

Review: Faye Toogood installations at London Design Festival

By Penny Craswell

The London Design Festival is a museum-focused design event, rather than a commercial fair, and this is evident in the number of installations, talks and object exhibitions included. Two of the most amazing installations this year were by London-based designer Faye Toogood: The Cloakroom at the V&A Museum and The Drawing Room at Somerset House.

Coats are made of Kvadrat fabric at The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood. Photo: supplied
Coats are made of Kvadrat fabric at The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood. Photo: supplied
I first met Faye when she visited Sydney for The Blocks, a multi-sensory installation she created for Penfolds Wine at Sydney’s Walsh Bay in 2012 (read my article here). At The Blocks, Faye reinterpreted five flavours of wine grapes using the sommelier’s notes, working with sculptors, perfumiers and artists to create the installation inspired by the description of the scent. This is typical of her approach, which is not only focused on making objects, but also includes a conceptual and curatorial element. Read more

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

Review: Vivid lights make Sydney shine

By Penny Craswell

One of the most famous and widely visited parts of the annual Vivid Festival of Light, Music and Ideas, is the array of light installations and projections that turn freezing Sydney in nearly-winter into a playground of light and fun (and crowds, the less good bit).

The Museum of Contemporary Art with projection, Vivid Light 2015. Photo: Penny Craswell
The Museum of Contemporary Art with projection, Vivid Light 2015. Photo: Penny Craswell

This year I thought I would do a proper post on the lights so that you can all see it for yourselves without having to fly to Sydney, or if you are already here, go out in the cold and brave the masses. This year, the best part was probably the projections on the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) called “Mechanised Light Assemblage” by Australian artist Rebecca Baumann who worked in collaboration with multidisciplinary French team Danny Rose. It had moments of Tron, and also a whole section that brought to vivid life Baumann’s own 2011 artwork “Automated Colour Field” which is in the collection of the MCA. Read more

Diary: A creative May in Sydney

By Penny Craswell

May is becoming the most inspiring month of the year in Sydney. In addition to the light show at Vivid, which I attended over a number of chilly nights and have reviewed on another post, I have also attended a number of panels and talks this month (in fact within the space of one week) on topics from architecture and design through to writing, gender, television, photography, publishing and business.

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View of Darling Harbour, Sydney from Good Design Forum. Photo: Penny Craswell

Using my tweets as a prompt I thought I would share some of the most inspirational moments in a kind of mini diary of creative inspiration.

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