Daily Archives: May 19, 2023

Melbourne Design Fair

The Melbourne Design Fair at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (Jeff’s Shed) is part of Melbourne Design Week. Furniture, lamps, jewellery, collectable limited edition or one-of-a-kind pieces. They are grouped into themes of transparency, currency and legacy. Much of it screamed, “I’m a limited edition design piece of conspicuous consumption”.  

There were stalls from individual designers and organisations like Craft Victoria, Jam Factory, Australian Design CentreAustralian Tapestry Workshop and Canberra Glassworks, as well as high-end art galleries in Melbourne that sell in this market: Mars Gallery, Neon Parc, Sophie Gannon Gallery, Oigåll Projects and Sullivan+Strumpf, reminding me that they also sell design.

There were things that I never wanted to see again, like the crystal wings of Christopher Boots; the combination of the cliche, kitsch image made out of stone was contradictory. 

I was interested to see a Meret Oppenheim, Traccia table from 1939 at auction house Leonard Joel’s booth, as I’ve seen so little of her work. Footprints of the bird’s legs are visible on the tabletop.

Burnt wood is in, this was one of several examples in different booths.

I have two questions suitable for almost all these occasions: What is being done to decolonise the event? And What is being done to make the event carbon-neutral? There were nods in the direction of both of these questions, a “sustainability partner” Acciona but little else, a bit like NGV director Tony Elwood’s brief acknowledgement of the traditional owners at the start of his speech.

The slogan for design week is “Design the world you want”, just as long as a car company sponsors it. Is any of this going to change my life? Where is the doing more with less? Design more with less. And “decoupling design from consumption” that I have heard about on architect Antony Di Mase’s podcasts By Light: Cities & Architecture? There are probably other parts of Melbourne’s Design Week that address ecological and political concerns, but Design Fair doesn’t.

Award winner Paula Savage posing with the fair’s major partner’s car.

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