Design writings: Dezeen interviews Ex Machina production designer

“Alex Garland’s science-fiction movie Ex Machina features just one location: a tech billionaire’s minimalist hideaway in Alaska. Production designer Mark Digby told Dezeen how architecture was used to create the thriller’s clinical mood and provide a ‘seducing’ backdrop (+ slideshow + transcript).

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“‘It’s a very particular film,’ said Digby. ‘There are only three or four people in it and it’s all set in one house. There’s very little space to escape to somewhere else. So the house had to be important.'”

Dezeen’s Marcus Fairs provides an in depth interview with Mark Digby which covers the role of a production designer and how, at least in the world of film, hard, shiny surfaces are for bad guys.

Read the whole interview at Dezeen here.

Book review: Cloth Bound by Julie Paterson

By Penny Craswell

Well known as a Sydney textile designer, Julie Paterson has been running Cloth since the 1990s, reinterpreting Australiana in a contemporary form that’s hand-made, wonderfully textured and seems to transcend fashion in the best kind of way.

ClothBound by Murdoch Books
ClothBound by Murdoch Books

Published by Murdoch Books, Cloth Bound: Iconic fabric designs: Stories of a handmade process combines personal memoir with the story of a creative process and the development of a business. In order to tell her story, Julie is personal, sharing her passion for the subject and how textiles have intertwined with her life. The business story is also incredible – how many business people take six months for research and development to find their creativity at the beginning of a business? Read more

The design writer’s postcard from Adelaide

By Penny Craswell

Great design and architecture are in abundance in Adelaide which I dicovered during a recent visit. The city is completely new to me – I knew the Jam Factory’s reputation for good design and that some fantastic architecture firms – Woods Bagot, Hassell and Woodhead (now GHD Woodhead) – had begun there, but I was otherwise unsure what to expect. The trip came about when, having commissioned me to write an essay for the catalogue of the Jam Factory’s Glass: Art Design Architecture exhibition, Director Brian Parkes invited me to the opening.

Glass artist Tom Moore's work at Jam Factory Glass exhibition. Photography: Penny Craswell.
Glass artist Tom Moore’s work at Jam Factory Glass exhibition. Photography: Penny Craswell.

The exhibition, the catalogue and the opening did not disappoint. With studios offering an associate program in ceramics, glass, metal and furniture, and some great exhibitions, as well as a retail shop selling design objects, the Jam Factory is an important organisation for design both in Adelaide and nationally. In addition, Brian – an old friend from his Sydney days – has added his love of design, as well as extensive contacts in the field (recent appointments include Jon Goulder and Daniel Emma) and great curatorial skills to the mix. Read more

Design writings: Christopher Boots studio visit

“We visit Boots in his Fitzroy studio. The streets lined by large oaks and restored facades are a far cry from the suburb’s working working-class roots, when Boots’ studio would have been home to one of many factories that formed the beating heart of the area’s industrial past.

via Broadsheet

“From an outsider’s perspective, Boots is living the dream: a studio in a fashionable suburb—which also doubles as his house—and luxury brand Hermes calling to design the Christmas lights in their New York store.

“Inside, Boots’s studio is a flurry of activity flanked by the fixtures that have brought him acclaim the world over. By one wall, there are iterations of Boots’ signature crystal fixtures, the Prometheus series: handmade chandeliers embellished with quartz around a ring of bronze.”

Alan Weedon visits Christopher Boots in his studio for Broadsheet, a well written article that gives in insight into this hard-working, talented designer.

Read the full article here.



Review: Sydney Festival’s Inside There Falls

By Penny Craswell

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.

Dancers and installation as part of Inside There Falls. Photo: Penny Craswell
Dancers and installation as part of Inside There Falls. Photo: Penny Craswell

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. 

Read more

Bruno Munari’s children’s book Circus in the Mist

A couple of years ago, I contributed a number of texts to the Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design which was my first book contribution and an amazing experience. The Phaidon editors selected every example they commissioned from me – from infographics, to fonts, to magazine covers – and as a result, I learnt so much about graphic design. Even though 26 of my entries were published, for some reason, a few stories I wrote on children’s books and toys were not published – they must have decided to leave these out. So, since it is just sitting there, here is one of the stories I wrote, on a beautiful book by Italian designer and artist Bruno Munari.

Circus in the Mist by Bruno Munari. Image via LOG
Circus in the Mist by Bruno Munari. Image via LOG.


Circus in the Mist – or Nella Nebbia di Milano – was created by Italian designer and artist Bruno Munari in 1968. With black illustrations printed on transparent paper, this is not just a children’s book, but an object of play. Read more

Designers & Books .com for all your reading needs

I recently discovered a great website called Designers & Books which includes listings, reviews and original content relating to books on design including architecture, graphic design, interior design, furniture design and plenty more. There are themed book lists, new book releases and contributions by well known designers, such as this book list by Stefan Sagmeister and this interview with Jasper Morrison.

Each book also has a basic synopsis which is really handy. One of my favourite recent books is Iconic Designs: 50 Stories about 50 Things which was released a couple of months ago by British design scholar Grace Lees-Maffei, which has a wonderful examination of the word “iconic” – really questioning what the term means, along with related terms like “genius”.

Another great book that launched last night at Coco Republic is The Tailored Interior, a book on the work of Melbourne-based interior designer Greg Natale with text by Jonathan Adler. Congrats Greg!

Go to Designers & Books
Go to Designers & Books
My article on Storytelling in Design

My article on Storytelling in Design

“While necessities of size, cost, comfort and even aesthetics can be crucial when selecting furniture and lighting, stories are often what make us fall for design.”

Home Design magazine’s latest issue includes a comment piece from me on storytelling in design, including stories on products by Australian designer Trent Jansen, German designer Sebastian Herkner, Knud Eric Hansen from Carl Hansen & Son and UK designer Jay Osgerby from Barber Osgerby.

Knud Eric Hansen of Carl Hansen & Son (supplied by CULT) and Penny Craswell at DesignEX panel discussion. Image: DesignEX
Article on Storytelling Design by Penny Craswell in current issue of Home Design magazine.