There may not be a design solution for winter but as the temperature starts to drop, I can’t help but covet cosy designs like Patricia Urquiola’s Mangas rugs produced by Spanish company, Gandia Blasco. Inspired by a knitted sleeve, Ms Urquiola has that special knack of taking the familiar and the homely and turning it into high-end design. I interviewed Patricia a number of years when she visited Sydney for Sydney Design 2006. She talked about growing up in a vibrant, creative household – of being exposed to great design like David Hicks wallpaper, interior decorating journals and antiques as well as being inspired by lots of crafts popular in Spain and Ibiza where she holidayed as a child – macramé, knitting, smocking and embroidery. You can see all of these things reflected in her designs. She said that she found it amusing to think of serious corporate types sitting on her ‘smocked’ boardroom chairs.
I am equally impressed by Gandia Blasco’s latest collection of giant cross-stitched rugs, cushions and poofs. Designed by Charlotte Lancelot, here is another designer mining craft traditions for new ideas in interior design products.
Speaking of inspiration, it can come from many sources, and for designer Catherine Martin her new rug collection by Designer Rugs is inspired by the latest Baz Lurhman cinematic instalment – The Great Gatsby. We are already seeing the impacts of this film in a range of design disciplines most notably, interiors and fashion. Her stunning designs will be featured in the film.
This month, I was also inspired by students when I was invited to see the show produced by the Events, Design and Illustration students at The Design Centre, Enmore. Costumes and creations inspired by the Mayhem of Revolution was described as a “stylish insurrection into the history of fashion and haute couture”. Whilst the first year students (Certificate IV Design) explored a diverse array of historical events such as the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia, the American, Cuban, Russian and French Revolutions, the second year students (Advanced Diploma in Design for Live Production Theatre and Events) took a more theatrical approach with a procession of industrial iconography such as corsets, crinolines and frock coats – all inspired by Victorian England and the Industrial Revolution. But it was the sophistication of the third year students’ response which really took my breath away. In a perfectly choreographed fusion of music, performance and design – what I thought was an ‘Alien revolution’, a kaleidoscope of fluorescent colours and bio-inspired rubber, plastic and prosthetics, was titled ‘Cosmi-coital metamorphosis – the sexual revolution and space race since 1960s’. The title may be a little off-putting, the word ‘coital’ never comes off well! The results however were spectacular – a true parade of the imagination. Congratulations to all the students who were a part of this fabulous show. I could not keep the smile off my face the entire evening. And it wasn’t just the projects which were inspiring but the attention to detail and professionalism of the event.
A few days ago I attended a briefing symposium at UTS for Sydney’s South Central Creative Quarter. The Ultimo Pedestrian Network (UPN), a crucial part of the Powerhouse Museum’s backyard, is due for a major face lift. Faculty and graduate students of the School of Architecture are working in partnership with the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and this session was part of a 26 day intensive design studio to look at a range of issues for this new project set to transform this neglected part of Sydney. There is no doubt that this is an area sadly in need of transformation. An area shared by students and a range of educational institutions – the Powerhouse Museum, UTS, ABC and TAFE. Sacha Coles from Aspect Studios and John Choi (Director, Choi Rophia Fighera) presented some exciting concepts. Their approach focussed on creating hubs for learning, gathering and socialising. The UPN promises, finally, to make Ultimo a cool place to hang out!
At that same event, I was particularly impressed by Ben Hewitt, the South Australian Government Architect who spoke eloquently about the experience of multi-stakeholders and public spaces. Similarly, Dr Tim Williams, Leader of Public Policy and Placemaking from Arup talked about the challenges of designing creative and innovative environments in cities. Fresh from his London experience, he stressed that good design is not just about good architecture, great skills or even wonderful ideas – it’s about good business models. How do we get government, sponsors, stakeholders and the public to buy-in to the big picture for a precinct or urban space? How do we create viable business models to make things happen? He asked, who is the ‘sponsor’ of the project – that independent someone without a vested interest, who is not a stakeholder, not a delivery agent and who can see the big picture community and economic value of the project? And how can we sustain engagement throughout the development process and the life of the project. These are all great questions for architects, designers and urban planners to consider when thinking about urban redevelopments.
All the best in your creative pursuits,