Neale Whitaker: On the best of Australian design
THE BEST OF AUSTRALIAN DESIGN IS GARNERING INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM
Brisbane and Sydney,you might want to put your hands over your ears, because you may not like what I’m going to say. Melbourne is Australia’s design capital.That’s right. MELBOURNE. DESIGN. CAPITAL. And if last week’s DENFAIR 2017 (denfair. com.au) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was any indication, it’s set to stay that way.
That Australia now has a design event it can be proud of corresponds with the fact we now have a design industry to be proud of.To be fair we’ve had one for some time, but it feels as if the cultural cringe that shackled us has finally been laid to rest.We do things our way and the world is taking note. Earlier this year, 11 Australian designers showed at Milan Design Week as part of the collective Local Design (localdesign.com.au). The exhibition received international acclaim and rightly so. One of the Aussie designers, Jon Goulder,had his stunning Settlers chair snapped up by US furniture brand BDDW,and several other designers’ works were acquired by London’s Mint gallery.
But as important as global recognition is,our design industry needed a good shop window at home. Previous design fairs were hampered by an outdated need to alternate between Sydney and Melbourne, thus never gaining ground in either
city. Since its 2015 launch, DENFAIR has stayed loyal to its Melbourne origins and has quickly established itself as our premier design event.Almost 8000 people visited across three days to see a confident portfolio of 350 primarily Australian design brands, including heavyweights Zuster, Armadillo & Co, Mud Australia and Bedouin Societe; newcomers such as Sydney’s Mr.Fräg Studios (mrfrag.com) and Brisbane’s jr.abel (jrabel.com.au); and established retailers Cult,Anibou and Great Dane.
“We’re humbled by the rapid growth of DENFAIR,” says co-founder Thibaud Cau-Cecile.“In our role as ambassador for original Australian design, we aim to be on the global design calendar, and judging by the international interest we’re well on the way. It’s inspiring to see so many people passionate about supporting original design.”
And my favourite? I couldn’t go past Adelaidian brand Daniel-Emma’s sublimely simple Soft Chair (danielemma.com).And since you’re asking, I’ll take it in pink. Neale Whitaker is editor-at-large of Vogue Living. See highlights from DENFAIR 2017 at vogueliving.com.au.