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.
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 →
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.
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)
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 →
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.
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 →
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.
“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 →
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.
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 →
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.
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 →
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).
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 →
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.
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.
Inside There Falls, on at Carriageworks as part of Sydney Festival this month, is the most inter-disciplinary art piece I have ever experienced, combining paper art, installation, sculpture, writing, spoken word, costume design, music and dance. The piece is an installation by UK-based artist Mira Calix, with dancers from the Sydney Dance Company and choreography by Rafaela Bonachela.
As an audience member, the experience begins by being led into a dark room and asked to wear white overalls or coat, and being given a scrunched up paper object to hold. The sound of a woman’s voice starts to emanate from the object, reading poetry on the body and identity, written by Sydney-based writer Brett Clegg and read by actress Hayley Atwell. Already the mood is set.