May feels like a wonderful month for design and good place to start my monthly Editor’s Letter. Not only do we start to see trickles of good ideas streaming into the design scene from the Salone Internazionale del Mobile but here at the Powerhouse Museum things are hotting up as we begin the mighty task of preparing for Sydney Design 2012. You’re invited to be a part of this year’s festival.
First things first, I should really begin by introducing myself and the D*Hub team. I manage Contemporary Programs at the Powerhouse Museum – this essentially includes all programs designed for adult audiences including the annual Sydney Design festival, Craft Punk, the fastBreak breakfast series, Young Blood Designers Markets, the Design NSW Travelling Scholarship and D*Hub. Our two resident D*Hub writers are Joan-Maree Hargreaves and Rita Bila who scour the local and international design scene, probing the brains of curators, designers and experts to find out what is making waves in the world of design. In addition, we commission guest writers like former Museum curator Ann Watson, who recently talked to Marc Newson about his creative collaboration with SMEG.
Our by line is “unpacking design” and by that we mean getting under the skin of design, the people, the processes, the energy and creative inspiration behind meaningful design. We also want to give you a window into the world of design collections – especially those hundreds of thousands of objects in vast museum basements which almost never see the light of day. It’s our chance to connect with what designers are doing today and to reflect on what designers have been thinking about since humans first put their minds to problem solving. The power of design thinking – to solve, resolve and deliver solutions can never be underestimated.
Having recently attended the Australian Interior Design Awards, I am feeling quite inspired! I’ve been raving to anyone who will listen how impressed I was by the Potts Point apartment designed by Anthony Gill Architects. So I was quite pleased it got a gong for best residential. Refreshing to see such a modest and thoughtful approach to what I felt was a very real home for a very real family. The designer and owner had one key goal – to make a great place to live for a young family. And at 38 square metres this would seem an almost impossible task. Yet, with clever use of joinery – a slide out bed, ample storage and a sleeping platform – a couple and their young child could live happily ever after within this tiny footprint. I was equally inspired by the use of colour and whimsy that went into creating functional and restorative environments for children, staff and the public for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Victoria - designed by Billard Leece and Bates Smart. What a long way we’ve come from the days of stark white, and often foreboding, hospital interiors.
As the Museum gears up for an exhibition about design legend, Le Corbusier, and we reflect on the call to action of the Sydney Design 2012 theme – ‘design rethink’ – I am made even more acutely aware of Le Corbusier’s belief in modesty and livability. I’m sure a lot of you will share my excitement about seeing full size reconstructions of two of Le Corbusier’s most famous buildings – the split-level Unite apartment in Marseilles and his beloved beach shack, Petit Cabanon, on the French Riviera. Corbusier said that it had everything you needed and nothing you didn’t. Not a bad design philosophy in today’s world where both space and resources are at a premium.
I hope you check out this month’s offerings on D*Hub and remember we are always interested in what you think. Send us your comments, feedback or even ideas for stories!
Happy month of May