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

 

Read more

Review: M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong

By Penny Craswell

The first permanent exhibition venue in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District has been completed – the M+ Pavilion, designed by three Hong Kong design teams: VPANG architects ltd, JET Architecture Inc and Lisa Cheung. The leaders of each team, Vincent Pang, Tynnon Chow and Lisa Cheung, first met in New York in 1999 and, despite their careers developing separately to this point, took this opportunity to come together, winning the competition entry to design the building.

Cantilievering over the grass, M+ Pavilion Hong Kong. Image: Courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and M+, Hong Kong
Cantilievering over the grass, M+ Pavilion Hong Kong. Image: Courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and M+, Hong Kong

 

The pavilion is set within the Art Park and offers a tranquil escape from the busy city centre, with gleaming facades that mirror the surrounding greenery of the park. The building is situated on a grassy slope with the upper level exhibition space cantilevering over the lawn below and offering views of the city and the harbour. Read more

Review: Green Ladder pavilion by Vo Trong Nghia

By Penny Craswell

The latest Fugitive Structures pavilion to be commissioned by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) is a bamboo structure called “Green Ladder” designed by architect du jour Vo Trong Nghia whose mission is to bring back greenery into the city via architecture, especially in his home country of Vietnam.

Green Ladder designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects for the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: Dianna Snape
Green Ladder designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects for the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: Dianna Snape


In my role as media consultant of the Fugitive Structures architecture pavilion series for SCAF, I was able to meet Nghia and also speak to him about the structure, as well as hear some behind-the-scenes details of the bamboo treatment process used on the installation. Read more

Review: Fugitive Structures architecture pavilion

By Penny Craswell

I have been a long admirer of Gene Sherman, one of the most important figures in Sydney’s art scene. She was well known for Sherman Galleries when she shifted gears to open the not-for-profit Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (or SCAF) around eight years ago. More recently, Gene has turned her interest to the architecture pavilion, commissioning architects and artists to create garden pavilions and installations as part of the Fugitive Structures program. In this, the third year of the series, SCAF presents two works: Sway, a garden pavilion by Israeli architecture collective SRMZ (Matanya Sack, Uri Reicher, Liat Muller and Eyal Zur); and Owner-Occupy, an installation by Sydney-based architecture/artist duo Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen.

Sway from above
Sway from above

Gene’s connection to Israel (where her daughter lives) was the catalyst to commissioning SRMZ, who were selected from a pool of architects, briefed to create a pavilion inspired by Sukkot, an annual festival where families erect a sukkah – a temporary shelter commemorating the Old Testament story of the Israelites sheltering in the wilderness en route to ‘The Promised Land’ . Their response, Sway, is an ephemeral structure whose shape references the tents of the nomadic Bedouins, built with steel, an agricultural fabric and stitched with red string. The pavilion leads the visitor through the garden under a series of arches that balance fine stitching with a sense of being incomplete and mobile. Read more

MPavilion temporary architecture in Melbourne

By Penny Craswell

2014 was a good year for Melbourne-based architect Sean Godsell. His RMIT Design Hub building won a number of awards, including the AIA’s National Award for Public Architecture, and rightly so.

This year, he is the first architect to be selected to design MPavilion, a temporary architectural structure that will be built in Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne, this spring and summer from 7 October – 1 February. Commissioned by Naomi Milgrom, a business leader in the fashion industry and one of Australia’s wealthiest women, this is the first of a new inaugural program, which supports architecture and design in Australia.

Naomi Milgrom and Sean Godsell. Photo: Earl Carter.
Naomi Milgrom and Sean Godsell. Photo: Earl Carter.

MPavilion takes its inspiration from the Serpentine Pavilion program of temporary structures in London’s Hyde Park which has been running every summer since 2000, with designs by well-known architects such as Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, Rem Koolhaus, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel. Read more