On October 31, sixty antipodean designers will converge on the Hill Street design precinct in Surry Hills to showcase their wares to the public as part of Workshopped 2012 – the largest event of its kind on the Australian design calendar. Now in its twelfth year (the Powerhouse Museum is a co-presenter of Workshopped), we meet three designers who will greet the public.
For lighting designer Luiza Milewicz, this is her fifth outing at Workshopped. Right now, you can spy Luiza’s beguiling sculpture “Cyanea”, a jellyfish form made from woven fibre optic lights as part of the Powerhouse Museum’s Love Lace exhibition.
Tell us your first impressions of Workshopped?
I was utterly impressed at the novel approach of exposing Australian design talent to an audience who may not necessarily visit galleries or see design. It’s been great to see the growth of designers in the exhibition as well as the renowned talents in the design community.
What will you exhibit at this year’s Workshopped?
I’m showing a series of work remodelled and developed from a one-off commissioned fibre optic pendant light, which was made for a private residence in Sydney earlier this year. The work comprises a radial petal-like motif of fibre optics woven around a circumference of LEDs. Each fibre is positioned to a single white LED point source of light housed within an aluminum framework. The work uses the idea of light for creating a sense of movement and volume.
How did you start using fibre optics in chandeliers?
It began years ago when I completed my master of design degree at the College of Fine Arts (COFA), University of New South Wales (UNSW). My research explored the use of lighting technologies in wearable accessories. The first of the chandeliers Swirl Light (which was exhibited in Workshopped 07), was conceived as a piece of illuminating jewellery to be used in a dance performance. This work led to the creation of many other chandelier designs which use fibre optics to create a sensory style of architectural ornamentation. I source some of my fibre optics from overseas, but so far I have used only Australian manufacturing processes.
Last year, Edward Linacre won the James Dyson Award for AirDrop, a device that promotes condensation from the air and then channels water back into the earth. While the AirDrop is in development, Edward was two new light pendants to showcase at his Workshopped debut.
First tell us about the James Dyson Award. How was it for you?
I’ve received international exposure and industry interest as a result, from eco-tech firms in China to agricultural industries in the Middle East. Currently we’re working on the patent and exactly where it can be protected. Ultimately I’d like to see AirDrop aiding drought-stricken communities across the globe.
You once made a musical Emotion Machine. What’s the soundtrack to your work life?
We have the radio on all day at the consultancy I work for, and in my own studio, it depends what stage of development. Making prototypes I like to crank anything loud, but brainstorming needs silence or atmospheric tunes with no lyrics. For late nights its drum and bass or electro to keep me awake.
Tell us your favourite Powerhouse Museum exhibition.
Many years ago I saw the Marc Newson exhibition. I was stunned at the range of different products he had created and designed. It seemed like there was never a boring moment.
2012 is Patryk Koca’s second appearance at Workshopped. “I hope this year I will bring a little more maturity with my design, as my first Workshopped was in my third year at university.” Koca debuted with his Onda Fruit Bowl and this year will show a furniture piece, “playful yet mature in its intent and realisation.”
Where in the world are you?
Right now I’m in sunny Poland surrounded by family. In April, I left for Europe on a professional development scholarship from University of Technology Sydney. I’ve been exploring the European design culture through design fairs and festivals in Milan, London and Berlin. I’m working on a few self- initiated projects as well as entering competitions.
So what do you enjoy most about Workshopped?
Personally it’s the greatest place, time and atmosphere to meet other designers. It’s an eye-opener on how much design is going on in Australia and how key it is to display it and share with each other.
Congratulations on your Onda Fruit Bowl. What’s it like when you see it in other people’s homes?
It’s always a different experience. At first I don’t notice it; it’s as if it should always be there. Then, on second glance I realise that this is much more special – the owner must have seen something in the product that I envisioned, there must have been some emotional connection, strong enough to spend money on it. That realisation is very humbling and encourages me to continue inventing.
Tell us your favourite object in the Powerhouse Museum.
Stefan Lie’s Ribs Bench – it’s truly an Australian classic with all the makings of a successful global product.