If design is shaping our collective future, what version of the future is being modelled? And, more importantly, is it the future we desire? These questions are vital to this year’s Melbourne Design Week, which considers how design impacts our our future in terms of aesthetics, economics, technology, culture and environment.
Melbourne Design Week features over 170 events including exhibitions, screenings, talks, tours and workshops, spanning throughout NGV and greater Melbourne.
Now in its third year, the week brings together designers, artists, academics, writers and more to consider the 2019 theme: design experiments.
Within this curatorial premise lie sub-themes, with central questions relating to waste and urban pollution, including oceanic pollution and recyclability. As Ewan McEoin, senior curator of contemporary design and architecture at NGV, says, “One highlight is a symposium called Toxic City which will bring together key thinkers around urban pollution and climate change, which includes leading climate change journalist from The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, and Daan Roosegaarde, the Dutch environmental artist.”
The week features further international speakers including Erieta Attali, an Israeli architectural photographer, and Dan Pearson, a leading UK plant designer. Yet there is a strong local focus, with consideration of how design impacts affordable housing, ageing in Australia, zero-waste buildings, gender diversity and Melburnians’ connection to the Yarra River. Meanwhile the exhibition program includes Welcome to Wasteland, where designers create new work addressing waste issues (think plates made of lettuce), and a show at Sophie Gannon Gallery which, curated by design academic Guy Keulemans, looks at supply chains and where materials originate.
Above all, the week aims to be generative: to create outcomes and speculations, rather than simply reflecting what has come before.
Melbourne Design Week 2019
14 March—24 March
This article was originally published in the March/April print edition of Art Guide Australia.