Australian design seems to be going through a renaissance at present with international recognition for designers such as Flynn Talbot, Jon Goulder and Studio Truly Truly and a avalanche of great new designs hitting the market from Adam Goodrum, Ross Gardam, Design by Them and many others. On top of this our makers are stepping up to the mark, investing in cutting edge equipment and taking on more complex designs with a great deal of enthusiasm.
So it is extremely timely that the latest design fair to hit Australia is a celebration of the designer the maker and the brand in equal measure. The Design-Made inaugural event runs from October 26 - 29, in a venue usually reserved for professional photographers in the heart of central Sydney. Unlike most design fairs it is the brainchild of two women; Kobe Johns and Anne-Maree Sargeant. Both have a large amount of experience working in or for design fairs both in Australia and abroad with Johns working for 100% Design in London before returning to Australia and working for past with DesignEX. Sargeant is a veteran of the Australian design scene having been involved in the design field and international design fairs in various capacities (journalist, PR, buyer) for nearly 30 years.
Ross Gardam's 'Noon' tables were only launched in early October and will be making their first public appearance at Design-Made. Like all of Gardam's work the designs are expertly detailed and beautifully made.
Johns tested the waters for an event like Design-Made in 2016 but her Factory Design District event came a little unstuck due to a weekend which suffered from the unlucky overlap of the worst weather Sydney had experienced in decades and a heavily saturated event calendar due to huge popularity of Vivid Sydney. Rather than be put off, Johns vowed to push ahead with a second instalment of Factory Design District in 2017 but was convinced by a persuasive Sargeant to pool their experience and contacts. The fact that Sargeant heads up the Australian Design Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the intellectual property rights of Australian designers merely adds another string to the already comprehensive Design-Made bow.
Sargeant has curated a show around the brightest up and coming Australian designers for fairs such as Denfair (and the now defunct) DesignEX for several years and has been able to utilise her contacts to ensure that in addition to a number of big Australian furniture and lighting brands, Design-Made will be showcasing Australia's most talented young designers and studios. Combining this with site specific installations sponsored by Design Tasmania and a number of exhibitions focusing on the importance of legitimate design over brainless copying, Design-Made has the elements that might well produce a design show that satisfies both the design fanatic and the politically motivated design radical. One other component that Design-Made is keen to highlight is the role of the maker in an industry which is all too frequently about shiny new objects and marketing hype. The show will include more than 60 Australian design studios, a heap of important brands and a large number of small workshops and manufacturers.
Tom Fereday (whose recent 'Mito' floor lamp for Rakumba shown below left) is involved in a number of installations and products at Design-Made. His new soft seating design for FEBRIK manufactured by SD Elements will be a feature of the foyer area while he has new wallpaper designs with Local Design and a piece in the Original Fakes exhibition where 26 designers reflect on the replica industry by each customising a fake Jasper Morrison 'Hal' chair. Adam Goodrum wrapped his in a garbage bag while others poured concrete over a chair or cut and rearranged its plastic seat. The 'Hal' chair is a good symbol of pure design as Morrison is a designer's designer - creating products that focus on perfecting small details rather than reinventing the wheel. It is therefore doubly offensive to anyone who cares about design to see it ripped off and abused in the Australian market place.
Above right is the 'Polar' light by Ross Gardam, which in the view of Design Daily was an important indicator in a shift towards more complex design products being manufactured in Australia. The light is cleverly engineered to allow for consistent high quality manufacturing without the need to go offshore - something that in the past has often been a problem as designs were dumbed down to fit the limitations of the limited Australian manufacturing landscape. This seems to have changed with a new generation of makers and designs working collaboratively to achieve a common goal. The quality of our Australian made product is now finally able to compete with imported products from Europe and the USA.
A number of new designs will debut at Design-Made including Seaton McKeon's outdoor collection for Stylecraft called 'Paperclip'. The stacking design comes in either metal wire or perforated mesh in a range of exciting colours with Merbau timber armrests on the armchairs. Originally conceived for the 2015 Australian Design Awards, the chair has been developed into a collection of stacking outdoor products including a dining chair, armchair, low stool and bar stool.
Some of Australia's most well known designers will be contributing new work to the Design-Made show including designs by Charles Wilson for new brand Castlery. David Caon's 'Bloc' modular seating / work space systems for Living Edge are just one of several designs that are being showcased as part of an exhibition of recent Good Design Award winners.
Another quite different exhibition that will be on show at Design-Made is 'Undervalued' curated by highly successful Australian designer Nic Rennie. The concept behind this show revolves around exposing the public to the importance of good design in our everyday lives. Rennie has approached 35 prominent Australian design professionals for their personal take on 'good design' but imposed a rather constraining $2, 2 euro ¥200 (yen) price limit on each item. The exhibition therefore showcases 35 objects that can be purchased for less than the price of a coffee yet bring tremendous joy to millions of us every day - these include the humble wooden clothes peg, bulldog clip, Kikkoman soya sauce bottle or Staedtler lead pencil. Rennie's aim is to show that good design is not just for the wealthy while also improving the understanding of the role of design in a myriad of everyday objects.
The Design-Made event will also include several site specific installations including a new variation of Stitchfield, an installation originally created in Launceston in 2016 for the Women in Design symposium orchestrated by Design Tasmania. The installation designed by Melbourne architect Claire Scorpo and Alice Springs based designer Elliat Rich is made from thousands of wafer thin brass elements woven together like a giant knitted hammock. The installation will be lowered twice daily to allow the public to examine the artwork more closely and to participate in its creation. Talks by Claire Scorpio about the ideas, material and methodology behind the work will also be part of a number of special presentations during Design-Made. Discover more about presentations and workshops here
One of the most highly anticipated elements of Design-Made for Design daily is INTEPRETATIONS V – PAPER. This bi-annual installation commissioned by Andrew Simpson invites 8 award-winning Australian designers to explore a single material – PAPER. Designers included in this exhibition include Tom Skeehan, Tom Fereday, Sarah King, Harriet Watts, Elliat Rich, Charles Wilson, Benja Harney and the curator himself, Andrew Simpson. There are no pictures available for this show as yet so we will all have to make do with one of Benja Harney's past works with Henry Wilson.
Design-Made will bring together the best that Australia has to offer in terms of brands, design talent and makers. It's an honest attempt to promote inventive original furniture, lighting and interior object design in all its forms and as such should be supported by the general public as much as possible. This is the real deal with less hype and a lot more integrity than your average design fair.
The designer and independent studio line up for Design-Made:
Abalos designs by Dennis Abalos • Adam Cornish • Archer Objects by Tomek Archer • Ash Allen & James Walsh // presented by CATAPULT • Asher Abergel for Dezion Studio • Chris Hardy x WORTHY // presented by OWN WORLD • Christina Bricknell // presented by JP Finsbury Bespoke Joiners • Daniel Barbera // presented by CATAPULT • Dowel Jones // presented by CATAPULT • FRESH PRINCE • Hava Studio • Jonathan West • LOCAL DESIGN // live making installation, curated by Emma Elizabeth • Mr Frag • Porcelume (Colin Hopkins) // presented by Spence & Lyda • Ross Gardam • Tom Fereday • Tom Sheehan • So Watt
Brand line up at Design Made:
AXOLOTL • Castlery • Cult x Nau Design • Dinosaur Designs • FEBRIK • Herman Miller • Hydrowood • Junglefy • Living Edge • Mud Australia • OWN WORLD • Spence & Lyda • StylecraftHOME • The SD Element
Register for Design-Made here. Registration is FREE. Tickets purchased on the day of attendance are $10.
The event is being held at Sun Studios, 42 Maddox Street, Alexandria Sydney.
Dates: 27th to the 29th October 2017. Hours: Friday 27th; 10am - 6pm, Saturday 28th; 10am - 5pm, Sunday 29th; 10am - 4pm.