The cheerful appearance of Florentijn Hofman’s ‘Rubber Duck’ in January 2013 at Darling Harbour bought in the new year in just the right tone and with Hofman presenting at the Powerhouse Museum we were particularly excited. Since then, Rubber Duck has traveled around the world experiencing deflation in Hong Kong and an explosive event, of the literal kind, at New Year’s Eve in Taiwan. The duck is now on it’s second visit, this time to Parramatta kicking off the new year in much the same way as it did twelve months ago.
Some of us may see it as a memorable year and others may not as the design world to some extent still strives for the same ‘vanity’ heights as it always has – to some in architecture size still counts. The tallest approved building in the southern hemisphere was planned for Melbourne but has since been shelved, while in Sydney we await the development of the tallest hotel/casino development at Barangaroo.
After its break, this year also saw the return of Sydney Design 2013. It’s return prompted us to ‘rethink’ the design process and to focus on sustainability and community – to create a more livable world. D*Hub contributed by looking at whether it would be possible for clever design save the world.
In a program of exhibitions and talks presented by the Powerhouse Museum and through the ‘Hypothetical: can clever design save the world?‘ debate, the organisers were able to tease out the role designers can play to intervene and disrupt models that are not working. Presenting a panel of eminent designers, business and industry experts the program outlined some of the failures and successes of socially responsible projects and how they can be overcome. Projects discussed were as divergent geographically as in design practice – from the Australian local scene to New Zealand, Indonesia, and other parts of the world. Speakers dealt with issues ranging from how to design architectural solutions and disaster management to how to design systems that can create and ensure the successful delivery of services and innovative solutions. Whether design can transform, replenish and restore the well-being of the world was an integral part of the discussion.
The George Nelson exhibition, George Nelson: architect, writer, designer, teacher, from the Vitra Design Museum featured at the Powerhouse Museum in the later part of the year. Presented by Herman Miller, one of the earliest proponents of sustainable design, it featured pivotal designs from one of the most influential figures in American design during the second half of the 20th century.
2013 was also the year of the anniversary with the Opera House, no less, turning 40. Designed by the 38 year old Utzon, it has stood the test of time with a remarkable worldwide interest that has helped create an industry around the iconic structure. And to celebrate the birthday a number of Danish Designers featured in an exhibition within the Opera House foyers.
Along the harbour foreshore other significant projects have been announced and approved including the Crown Resort Casino, and talking of heights, the 170 metres height restriction will be broken by this project.
Sydney has been witness to a great deal of redevelopment in and around the Ultimo and Broadway area including the installation of a heliostat, the closure of much loved historical pubs and the development of Central Park and Sydney’s first Gehry building.
Throughout 2013 the focus has been strongly on sustainability and responsible design with a feature on jewellery designer Rosanne Bartley who has been working with found objects to address issues of sustainability and has revisited the idea of what precious is and the notion of acquired meanings. We investigate how being ‘green’ manifests in design, how it impacts on economy, and we present a model that has been successful for commercial ventures and the importance of integrated thinking.
In fashion we looked at trending colours, selective ethics, the real cost of fast fashion. Interior designers were delighted this year at the relaunch of Parker furniture while crafters and makers with a digital flair reveled in the first Sydney Mini Maker Faire.
With the start of the new year it’s difficult to predict the many twists and turns design will take however we are perched attentively on the edge of our seat to keep you up to date with new and interesting stories, events and announcements from the Australian local scene and beyond and to offer our thoughts and opinions.