This was my first time visiting for the Design Week and, as a fairly new addition to the Yellowtrace team, I was over the moon just to be there—to soak up the energy, learn, listen and, honestly, with the weather Sydney and the greater NSW has been experiencing this absolutely haunting summer—soak up some rays.
This year saw the return of many of our favourite shows alongside some pretty special debuts from emerging designers and even a few firsts for the Week. With NGV at its helm, in partnership with MAF, the inaugural Melbourne Design Fair opened with a bang and huge potential for growth and, adding to the critical mass, commercial partners really stepped it up with a small but mighty group seizing the opportunity to exhibit. Presenting very strong showcases in showrooms and even on location, they did not disappoint.
As someone who entered the events with no expectations, what struck me the most was not how effortlessly cool Melbourne is, which, c’mon, is no big secret, but it was more the sense of possibility in the air, bolstered by an overwhelming sense of community. This is something I’ve long heard from friends who have moved down to Melbourne—who I’ve seen blossom from afar, making new friendship groups, breaking into the music scene or starting their own magazine from scratch. But it was something else entirely to experience up close, and while I may have effectively been a tourist, this trip I felt anything but.
As the Week grows so does its representation, with a groundswell of First Nations exhibitors, talks and educators descending upon Melbourne this year, creating space for Indigenous thinking in the world of contemporary design. At RMIT Design Hub, JamFactory presented a selection of creative collaborations between First Nations artists the designers and their resident skilled makers across furniture, ceramics, metal and glass. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander not-for-profit organisation Agency held a series of breakfast conversations around the expertise and ingenuity of Indigenous design in Collingwood Yards. And in the courtyard, Tait opened Recultivate, an exhibition that explored the preservation of indigenous plants through considered biophilic design.
The Melbourne Design Week Award, presented by Mercedes-Benz, was awarded to Revival Projects for Zero Footprint Repurposing, a world-first free hub for repurposing waste from construction and demolition. Stylecraft also presented their biannual Australian Furniture Design Award in partnership with JamFactory, this year awarded to Ashley Eriksmoen.
Ok, now let’s get into it!
Invited to exhibit as part of Melbourne Design Week 2022 by Tolarno Galleries, Perth-raised industrial designer Adam Goodrum and Paris-born straw marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneur, who collaborate as A&A, have designed an asymmetrical cabinet with two columns, four doors—and one delightful surprise when said doors are unlatched. Photo: Andrew Curtis.
With a dynamic lustre and illusion of depth provided by its surface, every square centimetre of which has been meticulously hand-decorated with thousands of sections of rye straw imported from Burgundy, which Arthur dyes in an array of custom hues. The shape-shifting cabinet contains diamond-shaped voids within each of its columns, both of which incline towards each other ever so slightly to underscore the closeness of the maternal bond. Photo: Andrew Curtis.
Complementing Mother and Child is the Continuum table, whose similarly ingenious form comprises an extruded equilateral triangle with slanted sphericons at either end. The unique work’s head-scratching shape means it can be positioned in two different ways, completely changing its appearance in the process. Photo: Andrew Curtis.
Barbera Studio presented a historical design narrative, held within the Bates Smart Gallery, reflecting on the process of sand casting—that hasn’t changed much in the last 5000 years. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
The activation highlighted the studio’s material evolution and production processes, utilising sand with curated cast componentry and its relationship to ceramics in various states of production. They chose old BCE minerals and material exploration including bronze, ceramics, and glass. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Detail shot from the Barbera Studio installation held at Bates Smart Gallery. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Material Culture, presented by Marsha Golemac, was an exhibition that offered a space for artists, and guests alike, to imagine a world where yesterday’s ideologies and tomorrow’s innovations can coexist. The exhibition encouraged participants to embrace traditional and ultra-modern techniques in object design. 16 participants across varying artistic and cultural backgrounds created an object that examines old and new, either via ideas, processes, systems, or materials. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.
‘Grid XI’ wool and cotton on metal mesh by Jacqueline Stojanovic. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.
At Heide Modern,
In Clover Dining Table (2022), designed by John Wardle, made by Bryan Cush. 1100mm x 3200 mm. Tasmanian Leatherwood and Tasmanian Oak supplied by Hydrowood, Tasmania. Photo by Pier Carthew.
In its second year at Volker Haug Studio,
Sydney based designer Olivia Bossy presented her first collection, Objects 2022, comprising four pieces including a standing lamp, wall lamp, side table and daybed. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Olivia alongside her works at Geoffrey Hatty Applied Arts — her pieces comfortably sitting amongst century-old furniture. This layering and rejection of a certain trend-driven interior are becoming concepts that are central to her work. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Daybed by Olivia Bossy. Photo courtesy of Olivia Bossy.
Standing Lamp by Olivia Bossy. Photo courtesy of Olivia Bossy.
First and foremost MDW is a place to share ideas, educate and push the envelope to consider how design can be used as a force for good in an increasingly complex and precarious world. With four days in the city and an excel spreadsheet of our every move, we may not have been able to see everything, but what we did see was pretty sexy—here are some of the highlights of this year’s Melbourne Design Week.
Held at Tolarno Galleries, Mother and Child by Adam Goodrum and Arthur Seigneur (aka
Off the beaten track in the dazzling modernist icon that is Heide Museum by McGlashan and Everist, John Wardle and Simon Lloyd put on
A series of group shows interspersed in and around the trendy inner suburbs really took it to another level this year with a focus on experimentation and multidisciplinary cross-contamination. Following the success of
Melbourne creative powerhouse
Our favourite mavericks, New Assemblage were back on home turf at Oigall Projects on Gertrude Street with a weird and wonderful showcase that saw participants play, grow and experiment with materiality and mediums. The very visual, textural and tactile showcase didn’t take itself too seriously, with each piece finding a playful perspective on their chosen piece.
There was also a rise of fresh faces making their debut throughout the 11-day event. Sydney based
Showcase by NEW ASSEMBLAGE presented emerging and established designers, artists and craftspeople from around Australia exhibiting developed and experimental work. Held at Oigall Projects on Gertrude Street here are just a few of the weird and wonderful creations. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.
Italian Summer 2021 by Jill Stevenson and Moodlight by Belle Thierry. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.
Dimensioned Chair by Livio Tobler. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.
Thomas Maxam presented their inaugural product launch ‘Bricks: A Material Belonging to Place’ also held at Oigall Projects. ‘Bricks’ is a collection of slow poured, pressed glass luminaires that emulate the form of a traditional Australian house brick. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.
‘Improper Structures’ revisits everyday objects within our interior spaces. Eight contemporary makers working across ceramic, textile, furniture and glass disciplines eschew notions of pure functionality to engender connection, play, intimacy, comfort and reward. Works illustrate a fluidity between artistic expression and domestic life; material mutations, simple pleasures, hybrid forms, and narrative disruptions rule our domain. Seen here is Bite Me (2022) by bespoke furniture maker and designer Thomas Lentini. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Caro Pattle’s Home run series features five soft-woven trophies to be awarded to us all for our collective achievements. Over the last two years, the connection between individual and community has been rendered even more explicit. Just like primary school cross-country day, we are all entitled to a participation award during a global pandemic. Each trophy is handwoven using coil basketry and knotting techniques. The vessels themselves are soft and malleable; the perfect domestic object when home comfort is everything. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Alternative Provisions presented by Craft Victoria explored how unexpected and underutilised materials, driven by the notion of reuse, are developed and used in interesting ways by today’s makers. The exhibitors each foraged for their material, whether organic matter or discarded waste product, to create works that offer production alternatives, as well as a means to tell new stories. Photo by Henry Trumble.
Installation view of Remnant Explorations series by Ella Saddington. Photo by Henry Trumble.
Installation view of Anthropic Lamp series by James Walsh. Photo by Henry Trumble.
It was really a week of firsts with commercial brands and retailers adding to the critical mass of the exhibits for the first time. Understanding the potential of MDW, commercial brands embraced the spirit of the event, stepping up with the installations that did not disappoint. With international and local exhibitions on show, some directly from last year’s Milan Design Week, there was an undeniable level of polish not yet seen at the MDWs of the past. And with Milan just around the corner, it was certainly the elephant in the room, from whispers to fearless declarations the question was on everyone’s lips—“Are you going?”
At Spence and Lyda’s presentation Future Collective this was particularly hard to avoid. Held for the first time at Villa Alba in Kew, the event single-handedly put the Italianate mansion on the map with even Melbourne natives confessing that they’d never heard of the venue. Lavishly decorated with hand-painted ceilings, walls and panoramic murals, this was as close to Milan in Melbourne we were going to get. The event brought international designs by Álvaro Catalán de Ocón (who attended the event in person) and Lucy Kurrein, alongside locals Jon Goulder, Broached Commissions, Fiona Lynch, Authentic Design Alliance with Ash Allen, and Otomys Gallery.
Spence and Lyda presented Futures Collective at Villa Alba, a multi-faceted Sustainability narrative for our time. The exhibition brought together award-winning local designers Jon Goulder, Broached Commissions, Fiona Lynch Studios, Authentic Design Alliance, Otomys Gallery, and international juggernauts Álvaro Catalán de Ocón and Lucy Kurrein, elevating the mindful spaces we inhabit while showcasing the creators, makers and stories behind them. All with a distinctive view to the preciousness of time, talent and planet. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
The INNATE collaboration between Adelaide-based furniture designer Jon Goulder, and Sydney design retailer Fiona Lyda, of Spence and Lyda, Innate 2.0 launched as part of Futures Collective at Vill Alba. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Fiona Lynch Office launched their first capsule collection at Futures Collective. Expanding on the studio’s commitment to sustainable materials, the pieces are produced with waste materials and local fabrication. The collection is inspired by the studio’s interior design for the soon-to-open Ace Hotel in Sydney, offering a sneak peek of the upcoming project’s custom-made furniture, textile and joinery elements. Photo by Tess Kelly.
The Innate 2.0 desk by Jon Goulder for Spence and Lyda in blonde wood, launched at Vill Alba. Photo by Tess Kelly.
Álvaro Catalán de Ocón’s Plastic Rivers floor runner and sculptures from Ottomys Gallery seen through the doorway. Photo by Tess Kelly.
Back in town, Space Furniture took a different tact, with an equally disarming offering dubbed
Designed by Nat Turnbull, the concept apartment was an otherworldly look into the brand’s philosophy to engage with furniture and objects that express quality, function, beauty, and overwhelmingly—product longevity.
Featured alongside the installation was a series of dreamlike digital art by Tom Hancock’s inspired by nature that recreates each room of the ‘apartment’ and blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Taking a closer look at their design collections through the lens of ethical and sustainable practices and reviewing their own business systems, the showcase marks the beginning of a journey for the retail brand on the path to becoming carbon neutral. Hear hear!
Space devised a visual feast for their inaugural Melbourne Design Week offering, transforming the front of their Richmond showroom into a fictional apartment with a corresponding digital art series by Tom Hancocks. With three curated rooms the installation hinged on the idea that “the value of design is not only judged through its functional or aesthetic impact but on its environmental and social impact on the planet.” Pictured here is ‘7 pm, Dusk’ render, featuring the following products from the Space Collection: Baxter Milano bed; Giorgetti Summa small table; Glas Italia Simoon coffee table; Gebrüder Thonet Vienna GMBH Around Colours rug; Foscarini Nuée ceiling light; SP01 Royce armchair; Foscarini Tobia floor lamp. Photography by Haydn Cattach. Digital art by Tom Hancocks.
‘Shaping our future’ installation at Space Melbourne. SP01 Royce armchair sits on Gebrüder Thonet Vienna GMBH Around Colours rug.
Night scene render features products from the Space collection as follows: B&B Italia Outdoor Husk armchair; Moooi Obon table and Foscarini Gioia wall light. Photography by Haydn Cattach. Digital art by Tom Hancocks.
‘Shaping our future’ installation at Space Melbourne featuring B&B Italia Outdoor Husk armchair and Foscarini Gioia wall light, looking through to Acerbis Storet drawers.
3 pm Afternoon scene of ‘Shaping our future’ render features products from the Space collection as follows: B&B Italia Camaleonda sofa; Edra Cicladi side tables; Acerbis Storet drawers; Roll & Hill Atlas table lamp; Living Divani Offcut bookshelf; SP01 x Rometti accessories range; Gebrüder Thonet Vienna GMBH Around colours rug. Photography by Haydn Cattach. Digital art by Tom Hancocks.
‘Shaping our future’ installation at Space Melbourne with a front view of the Acerbis Storet drawers and part of the B&B Italia Camaleonda sofa.
‘Shaping our future’ installation at Space Melbourne featuring B&B Italia Outdoor Husk armchair, Moooi Obon table and Foscarini Gioia wall light, looking through to Acerbis Storet drawers.
VBO Australia presented
Transformed into a gallery-like space the exhibition applied light to surfaces, spaces and objects in a breathtaking display that allows us to emotionally connect and attain a sense of wellbeing.
Following Marsha’s vision, VBO’s entire showroom was blacked out with only artworks by nine artists carefully illuminated by Viabizzuno lighting. Team Yellowtrace had the pleasure of walking through the exhibition during our stay and VBO team’s enthusiasm and willingness to educate us on the eight principles of light made for a memorable and infectious showcase. We may have even been nerd-ing out on light ourselves.
VBO Australia presented
Light only where needed versus Untitled, 2021 High purity optical glass 36cm x 12 cm courtesy of Red Moon Contemporary Art Glass Gallery. Photo by Dan Hocking.
Courtesy of Red Moon Contemporary Art Glass Gallery. Photo by Dan Hocking.
Viabizunno’s lighting principle The Thickness of Light demonstrated with an artwork by Helen Redmond, Yumebutai (Ferrugo), Oil on Canvas, Warm Charcoal Shadow Box Frame, 102 x 81 cm. Photo by Dan Hocking.
Melbourne Design Fair
Making its MDW22 debut, The Melbourne Design Fair was a 5-day showcase of the best collectible contemporary design from over 100 Australian designers and makers. The NGV initiative, presented in collaboration with the Melbourne Art Foundation, is a new venture in the presentation, promotion and sale of emerging and established Australian design. Split into two platforms—Present and Select—there was something to explore for everyone across furniture, lighting, object and speculative design.
Present unveiled thirteen of Australia’s leading commercial galleries, design organisations, agencies and studios with dedicated displays by the design creatives they represent.
Meanwhile, Select, curated by NGV’s Simone LaAmon, brought together over thirty-six Australian creatives in a compelling exhibition of pieces available for sale.
Presented as part of Melbourne Design Week, the inaugural Melbourne Design Fair is a commercial showcase of limited edition, rare and one-of-a-kind collectable design by Australia’s leading emerging and established contemporary designers and designer-makers. An initiative of the National Gallery of Victoria in collaboration with the Melbourne Art Foundation, the Fair was split into two platforms, Present dedicated to displays by leading commercial galleries and Select, a curated selection of Australian creatives with all the design works presented available for purchase. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
Scenes from Select section at the inaugural Melbourne Design Fair. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
The Modern Times display at the inaugural Melbourne Design Fair. Photo by Sean Fennessy.
The Luke Storrier Rosewood Series presented by Local Design. Photo Daniel Goode.