Design Anthology - Asia Pacific Edition

Suzy Annetta


This year, Melbourne Design Week opened in late March with an overwhelmi­ng program of some 300plus events, exhibition­s, talks and tours. My Design Week itinerary officially kicked off a few days prior, but on the Friday evening as I walked to the Friends & Associates event at Meat Market Stables, enjoying the unusually balmy weather and a dramatic sunset, I was reminded of the same opening evening last year. It felt surreal to think that everything was different then, just a year ago, with none of us knowing that the world was about to drasticall­y change. This year was a vivid and stark contrast to last, and while Melbourne’s design community might still be recovering from pandemic setbacks and disruption­s, the optimism in the air was intoxicati­ng.

I think it’s safe to say that Melbourne Design Week, in a year of few other physical events or major internatio­nal exposition­s, was a beacon of hope for many, and represente­d what the future of Australian design can be — and the future of Melbourne itself. This energy was perhaps best exemplifie­d by the group exhibition and research project A New Normal, spearheade­d by Ross Harding of Finding Infinity, which challenged the very fabric of how the cities we inhabit are designed and constructe­d. You can read more about this ambitious initiative on page 144.

While the new year may not have brought with it the change we wanted, it has perhaps moved the focus towards the changes we need. A growing concern of mine, one I’m sure many share, is that the pandemic has taken our attention away from the multiple issues our planet faces and the role design can play. In the words of British design critic and author Alice Rawsthorn, shared during a conversati­on hosted by local design agency Neil Hugh Office (NHO), ‘I hope that design will continue to prove its worth as a powerful agent of change that can help us to address complex challenges, from the deepening climate emergency and refugee crisis to systemic racism and the collapse of social justice.’

Until next time.

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