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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26 Original Fakes for Melbourne Design Week

This exhibition text was originally written by Penny Craswell for 26 Original Fakes, an exhibition curated by Dale Hardiman and Tom Skeehan of Friends & Associates as part of Melbourne Design Week.

26 Original Fakes, Melbourne Design Week

Fake furniture takes the original design and perverts it. The image in the magazine might look the same, but the object is fundamentally different – not just in quality, longevity, function and aesthetics, but also in its very essence. What makes the original authentic is stripped away and all you are left with is an empty simulation. Read more

Review: Crochet, performance and silly hats with Chili Philly

By Penny Craswell

 

The first solo exhibition of Phil Ferguson AKA Chili Philly at the Australian Design Centre crosses traditional boundaries of art, design, craft and performance.

Pizza by Chili Philly. Read more on The Design Writer blog
Pizza by Chili Philly. Image: courtesy the artist

A series of crochet hats made in bright colours (often in the shape of food or other recognisable fun shapes), the work is simple in some respects, but understanding it as just that would be to sell it short. Ferguson does not make crochet hats as artworks, or even to sell. Instead, he makes the hat, wears the hat and posts an image of himself wearing the hat onto social media. 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

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

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: Macadamia wood design by Quench

By Penny Craswell

Quench is a group of Queensland-based designers who have been coming together each year for five years to exhibit their work both in Australia and overseas. In 2015, for the first time, the designers of Quench decided to take a more unified approach, deciding on one material – macadamia wood – and one theme – objects relating to food. The result is a series of objects that are handcrafted and beautiful, creating a truly Australian collection that tells a story. The name of the exhibition, which was shown at Tokyo Designers Week in 2015, is “Table Stories”.

Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied
Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied

For Table Stories, each designer has created a different story to tell. Marc Harrison, known for his Husque tablewares made of processed macadamia shell, has designed a macadamia nut cracker called Dr Crunch. Alexander Lotersztain, an Argentinian-born multi-disciplinary designer working under his brand Derlot, handcrafted Sclpt, a series of four spoons; Jason Bird, who sells furniture and objects under his brand Luxxbox, designed three objects called Vessel; Surya Graf, whose work spans architecture and industrial design, created Hex, a mortal and pestle grinder for fresh spices; and David Shaw, who designs furniture and is founder / director of the Street and Garden Furniture Co, created Prop, a sculptural object for holding hot food as well as a tea candle. Read more

Review: Scented Intoxication exhibition by Lyn and Tony

By Penny Craswell

Lyn Balzer and Tony Perkins are a Sydney-based photography and designer/maker duo with an international sensibility, whose works are nevertheless deeply rooted in Australia. Their new exhibition at Sydney’s Australian Design Centre, called Scented Intoxication, features works made from a range of materials in two simple colours: black and white. But it is scent that is the most extraordinary feature of this exhibition.

Gallery view, Scented Intoxication. Photo: Australian Design Centre
Gallery view, Scented Intoxication. Photo: Supplied by Australian Design Centre

When you enter the exhibition space, it hits you right away, a beautiful, heady perfume that is not sweet or perfume-like in the traditional sense, but is reminiscent of burnt wood or native Australian vegetation or both. Lyn and Tony worked with French-born Australian-based Elise Pioch Balzac of Maison Balzac to create two scents for two scented candles: L’Obscurite (darkness) is a black candle with a scent inspired by one of Lyn and Tony’s photographs of a sea cave in Kiama NSW. Elise interpreted the image in a scent inspired by volcanic rocks using tree resin, birch tar and red cedar. The other scent is L’Etrangete (strangeness), a white candle with a scent inspired by another photograph by Lyn and Tony, this time of a waterfall in a lush rainforest. Elise interpreted this image of sunlight in greenery as a scent with lemon myrtle, native ginger and hemp. Read more

Profile: Li Edelkoort and Fetishism in Fashion

By Penny Craswell

I wrote this article following an interview with Li Edelkoort, one of the world’s leading trend futurists. The interview was conducted over a garden breakfast during the Milan Furniture Fair 2014, was commissioned by Kobe Johns (now of JP Finsbury) and was first published in the DesignEX catalogue 2014.

Left: an image from Fetishism in Fashion exhibition, Right: Li Edelkoort
Left: an image from Fetishism in Fashion exhibition, Right: Li Edelkoort

“My job is to anticipate what will be coming.” Lidewij Edelkoort, or Li for short, is one of the best known and most respected trend forecasters in the world. The list of brands she has worked with reads like a who’s who, including Coca-Cola, Lacoste, Disney, Siemens, GAP, L’Oreal. She regularly releases trend books that are sold to top brands all over the world, she started a number of magazines, including Bloom, which presents fashion, design, perfume and more inspired by horticulture. She directed the Design Academy Eindhoven from 1998 to 2008 and established a new design school in Poland in 2011 that merges design with humanities subjects like psychology or anthropology called the School of Form. Read more