CUSP: Designing into the Next Decade

Journey into the innovative world of design thinking!

CUSP features the work of 12 visionary designers, each developing creative solutions to some of the big challenges we are facing today and into the next decade. Working on the ‘cusp’, at the edges of what is possible, they’re exploring new and innovative territory in their practice.

From furniture and gadgets to clothing and housing, design can improve how we look, move, work and feel. It has increasingly become clear that design can transcend mere ‘form or function’. When staring down the barrel of unprecedented planetary challenges, design’s true potential is revealed: it can show us a better future.

Removing the stigma of personal medical devices to turn them into covetable objects, designing programs that help sick children deal with pain, and ideas for solving the global housing crisis are all challenges addressed by designers in CUSP.

Explore the work of Chris Bosse, an architect who designs sustainable buildings and future cities by creating architectural technologies inspired by structures in nature such as soap bubbles, snowflakes and spider webs. Test your strength and stamina at Floyd Mueller’sHanging Off a Bar installation, which takes the computer game into a whole new realm, creating fun, physical experiences that may well be the future of exercise. And connect yourself to George Khut’s body-focused artwork which becomes animated with colourful visuals and relaxing sounds as you consciously calm your body and mind.

An exhibition, a laboratory and an opportunity for learning and experiencing new ideas, CUSP takes us way beyond what we believe is possible when we think of design today.

CUSP thinker/tinker space

Can we think bigger, more imaginatively, and more creatively about sustainability? Could epic ecological machines be the answer?

Put on your thinking cap at the dedicated thinker/tinker space, specially created for designers both big and small.

Be inspired by Stephen Mushin — industrial designer, engineer, puppeteer, storyteller and adventurer — as you ponder ways to solve real-world problems such as sustainability using your creativity. Think creatively and imaginatively about sustainability to come up with epic, fantastical ecological machines.

The designers

Read more about the designers on the official CUSP website.

Leah Heiss - Can design humanise medical technologies?

Chris Bosse - Can cities be organisms that respond and adapt to their environment?

Healthabitat - Can design help prevent people from getting sick?

Mari Velonaki - What is intelligence, and how can it be passed on?

MaterialByProduct - Can clothing accumulate experience and memories over time?

Greg More - How can data help us make sense of our complex world?

George Khut - Can interactive art and design reduce the pain and anxiety experienced by children undergoing painful medical procedures?

Stephen Mushin - Can we think bigger, more imaginatively, and more creatively about sustainability? Could epic ecological machines be the answer?

Alison Page - What is Australian style and how does Aboriginality fit within our design identity?

Anupama Kundoo - How can we create a common standard for ‘sustainable’ architecture that works for both rich and poor?

Super Critical Mass - Can design change the way we listen? Can listening change the way we design?

Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller - How can design harness the power of play?

More information and resources

Visit the official CUSP website for an in-depth exploration of the ideas, artists and stories behind CUSP.

Download the education kit, developed for secondary students studying a variety of subjects including Design and Technology, Visual Design, Textiles and Design, Visual Arts, Society and Culture, Engineering Science, and Geography.

Posted in Design Minds | 5 Comments

5 comments

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Design Minds PD 2-Day City Workshop

We’re inviting Year 6 and 7 students and their teachers to become ‘future thinkers’ at the Design Minds PD 2-Day City Workshop.

Presented by SLQ’s Asia Pacific Design Library (APDL) in partnership with Queensland Government G20 Cultural Program, the workshop captures the youth engagement objectives of the Brisbane City Council Youth Strategy 2014-2019 for a well-designed subtropical city.

Participants will investigate the priorities of The Queensland Plan, local government processes and future urban design scenarios to collaboratively reimagine a new world Brisbane City for 2050.

This PD day is a practice based learning workshop where teachers will work with teams comprised of students from various schools. Teachers are encouraged to reflect on how this activity could be applied in their own learning environment.

Throughout the day you will be supported by a group of design mentors, practicing designers and educators who are currently using design thinking in the classroom.

Design Minds encourages knowledge and skills exchange and development in design education; increases the capacity of Queensland teachers to teach creativity and design; and increases the opportunity for Queensland’s young people to take part in world-class design education projects and activities.

Tickets to this event cover the cost of one teacher and two students. Please provide the names of the two students who will also be attending when prompted during the ordering process. If the students names are not currently available, please answer this question as ‘tbc’ and email us at asiapacificdesignlibrary@slq.qld.gov.au as soon as names are confirmed.

Here’s what a participant from one of our 2013 workshops had to say:

“Just thought I would let you know the ripple effect that your PD has had on myself and the school. I will be encouraging more people to attend the next Design Minds PD day so that we can start encouraging and promoting this type of learning in our school.”

Date: Fri 7 Nov + Sat 8 Nov

Time: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, both days

Venue: The Edge Auditorium, level 1, The Edge, State Library of Queensland

Ticket Cost: $195

Register: Eventbrite

Places are limited and registrations are essential.

Posted in Design Events | 25 Comments

25 comments

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Think Outside with Shane Thompson

In the lead-up to Think Outside: Identity + Economy, November 5, we spoke to our event facilitator and moderator, Shane Thompson who is a prominent Australian architect and Principal of Shane Thompson Architects, a studio he established after 24 years as a Principal of BVN Architecture, where he was instrumental in their growth as a major national practice and their emerging international reputation.

Shane’s work—from beautiful houses to major urban developments—is well-known for its sensitivity to place and a particular interest in materials and building practices.  He leads a talented team of architects in his Brisbane studio where their work includes a broad range of public, residential, commercial and urban design projects. Shane works closely with his clients to achieve design outcomes that are sensitive to the environment and also maximise the commercial value of the project.

Shane was responsible for some of the region’s most successful and innovative design projects, including Lavarack Barracks Redevelopment Living in Accommodation, University of the Sunshine Coast Faculty of Arts, Flow Apartments and the University of the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre. He has received over 100 awards, and a monograph on his work, “Making a Sub-tropical Architecture”, was published by L’Arca Edizioni in 2003. He has also received international publication and exhibition, and is a regular conference speaker.

Shane has also been appointed to a number of environment, industry and arts boards. He is the current President of the Australian Institute of Architecture (AIA), Queensland Chapter; an AIA National Councillor and was a Creative Director of the 2012 National Architecture Conference.

Shane has a passionate interest in the arts, which influences his work as an architect. He has a significant collection of contemporary art and enjoys collaborating with artists, actors and designers.

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I’m not sure that there is such a thing as a typical day. However it will almost certainly include studio time on design and design review, attending to email, client meetings and site visits.

What can attendees to the Think Outside lecture expect to hear?

Hopefully new and stimulating ideas and inspiring experiences.

Where do you go to get inspiration?

Everywhere really, from the shape of a rock, a great view, to the people with whom I work.

What are your top 5 favourite design books?

The next 5 I’ll buy!

If you weren’t a Architect, what would you do?

God knows!

What has been your greatest achievement?

I’m still practicing as an architect.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out in your profession?

Develop your people skills!

What inspires your work? 

My own personal experiences.

What principles inform your work?

Maintain your integrity.

Do you have any tips for getting your ideas of the ground?

Listen to others, be tenacious and courteous.

What role do you think design can play in addressing 21st century problems/challenges that are typically considered outside of the realm of design?

Good design can make a contribution in any situation.

Who is your double doppelgänger?

That’s a hard one, maybe Curly from the 3 Stooges!

Affirmative Architecture Symposium comes to Brisbane

Affirmative Architecture is as an annual event that celebrates the emergent trend amongst architects and designers to re-engage with the ability of architecture to make life better.

Consisting of a symposium and associated events it draws together international and Australian architects who have demonstrated commitment to a social agenda and have made significant contribution to the public realm. In a contemporary context, these practitioners have a positive consideration of social engagement, careful analysis of existing conditions and a deliberate, often challenging architectural response.

This year, Professor Sandra Kaji-O’Grady, Dean of Architecture at The University of Queensland and Associate Professor Chris Knapp of Bond University will join Professor Martyn Hook, Dean of School of Media & Communication at RMIT University in convening Affirmative Architecture_Brisbane.

The event will run from Friday 31 October to Saturday 01 November 2014 at the award winning Translational Research Institute by BVNDonovanHill and Wilson Architects.

Affirmative Architecture has proven to be highly successful as a collaborative project. Organised in terms of geographic situation and thematic concerns, the symposia in Melbourne 2010, Perth 2011 (with Curtin University and Pendal and Neille) and Sydney 2013 (with Sydney University and Rachel Neeson and David Neustein) have explored projects that expand the potential of architectural intervention in the city, the suburbs, the urban fringe, rural towns and remote locations.

Curated as a series of interactive lectures and panel discussions the speakers describe their predominately built work and real projects that address real problems. The event has demonstrated a real concern for the role of the architect in society and a driver of cultural and developmental change. The critical question here is what contribution architects and architecture can make in each situation and how might their research, strategies and skills make a real difference to everyday life.

Dates: Friday 31 October & Saturday 1 November

Price: The symposium is $100 per day professional and $50 per day for students

Register: Online via Affirmative Architecture

For information about the full program visit Affirmative Architecture.

Online ticketing is now open.

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion

The innovative and influential developments in Japanese fashion from the early 1980s to the present are celebrated in a major exhibition coming to Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from November 1, 2014 to February 15, 2015.

Tao Comme des Garçons (Tao Kurihara) / Autumn/Winter 2009–10 / Collection: Kyoto Costume Institute / Photograph: Taishi Hirokawa.

Curated by world-renowned fashion historian Akiko Fukai, ‘Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion’ is a comprehensive survey featuring more than 90 garments and accessories from the unparalleled collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, Japan.

Along with iconic garments by pioneering fashion figures such as Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, ‘Future Beauty’ will showcase designs by mid-career innovators such as Junya Watanabe and Jun Takahashi.

Alongside designs by Miyake and his contemporaries, an entire section of the exhibition is dedicated to garments by next generation designers including Tao Kurihara, Taro Horiuchi, Matohu, Akira Naka, Sacai, Mikio Sakabe, Anrealage, Somarta, Ne-net and mintdesigns.

The ever popular Up Late program will return during ‘Future Beauty’ with late night access to the exhibition, performances, bars and more on selected Friday nights from November 2014 through to February 2015.

‘Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion’ is at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane from November 1, 2014 to February 15, 2015.

Tickets are now available online for pre purchase. Adults $21.50, concession $17.50, including booking fees. 

On Saturday, 1 November a number of events will be running. 

11.00am | International Curator’s Lecture | GOMA Cinema A
Akiko Fukai, Chief Curator, The Kyoto Costume Institute. Free, no bookings required. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

1.00pm | Curator’s exhibition tour | Exhibition spaces, GOMA
Join Tarun Nagesh, Assistant Curator, Asian Art, in the ‘Future Beauty’ exhibition spaces for special insights into the exhibition. Exhibition ticket required.

2.00pm | Akira Isogawa in conversation | GOMA River Room
GOMA, River Room

Join Akira Isogawa, featured ‘Future Beauty’ designer, and one of Australia’s most celebrated fashion designers, in conversation with Alison Kubler, curator and writer, and co-author of ‘Art/Fashion in the 21st Century’ (Thames & Hudson), on the opening weekend of the ‘Future Beauty’ exhibition. Exhibition ticket required.

3.00pm | In focus: Comme Des Garçons Pocket | GOMA River Room
Christine St Clair, owner and buyer, Comme Des Garçons Pocket store, Melbourne, speaks about the philosophy behind the iconic label and the Comme Des Garçons Pocket concept. Exhibition ticket required

Posted in Design Events | 3 Comments

3 comments

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Think Outside with Dr Gjoko Muratovski

In the lead-up to Think Outside: Identity + Economy, November 5, we spoke to Dr Gjoko Muratovski, an international, multidisciplinary design expert with experience spaning from Europe and Asia, to the USA and Australia.

Dr Gjoko Muratovski is an international, multidisciplinary design expert with experience spanning from Europe and Asia, to the USA and Australia. His interests range from architecture and spatial design to branding and corporate communications. Over the years, Dr Muratovski has been working on highly diverse projects with a number of organizations, including Deloitte, Toyota, Greenpeace, NASA Johnson Space Centre, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, World Health Organisation, United Nations Association of Australia, Department of the Premier and Cabinet of South Australia, Office of the Prime Minister of Macedonia, Dumfries and Galloway Council of Scotland, and Auckland Council of New Zealand.

Dr Muratovski is currently the Head of the Communication Design Department at Auckland University of Technology; Chairman of the international ‘Design for Business’ Research Conference (Melbourne International Design Week); and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Design, Business & Society (Intellect Books & Journals, UK).

What does a typical day look like for you?

I have a range of roles and responsibilities and the dynamics of the day can change quite rapidly. In a typical day I may have several planning sessions with my colleagues from the Department of Communication Design, consultation with our students, and meetings with our industry partners. The rest of the time I work on projects with organizations such as the Design Foundation in Australia, the Designers Institute of New Zealand, Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability (DESIS) Global Network, the European Academy of Design, and others. Working with many international partners can stretch the day quite a bit due to different time zones, but interacting with all these great people makes everything more enjoyable.

What can attendees to the Think Outside lecture expect to hear?

The title of my talk is “The Utopian City”. There is a utopian idea that if we manage to create a perfect city we will live in some kind of equilibrium. Yet, from a historical point of view, no utopian community has managed to persevere the test of time. There are few examples in the world where cities were built on utopian principles, and I was born and raised in one of them. This talk will be about my home city Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Master Plan for the City of Skopje. This once-futuristic, utopian concept city was envisioned by the United Nations and UNESCO. The project was led by the award-winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange famous for developing the urban plan of Tokyo, and was built with the support of 77 countries. This is a very different city today, but at the time, this city was meant to serve as an ideal model of urban planning.

Where do you go to get inspiration?

I travel. I get inspiration from interacting with different cultures and from meeting new and exciting people.

What are your top 5 favourite design books?

I don’t read as many design books, as I used to. Now I tend to read books from different fields – from economics and psychology, to history and cultural studies. But, I do have few favourite design books:

“Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things” by Don Norman

“Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks” by Per Mollerup

“Iron Fists: Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State” by Steve Heller

“Life Style” by Bruce Mau

“S M L XL” by Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau and Hans Werlemann

If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?

I would probably be an architect, like my brother.

What has been your greatest achievement?

On a professional level, it was the establishment of the Greenpeace Design Awards. As the Director of that program, I managed to engage more than 1500 creatives from over 70 countries to take part in the development of highly inspirational social and environmental campaigns.

On an academic level, it was earning a Doctorate in Strategic Design Research. This really helped me grow as a designer and it opened a new door for me to work in the Higher Education sector. Now it gives me a great pleasure to see hundreds of students graduating each year from the design programs that I have helped develop.

And finally, it was meeting my wife – she is my biggest fan and my toughest critic.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out in your profession?

The advice that I received quite often when I started out in my profession was that in order to be taken seriously by my peers, I need to become a specialist in a single domain of my profession. This advice still holds true for many designers. But the advice I wish I had received was that successful design requires an interdisciplinary partnership and understanding of many other areas that go beyond the core of the design profession. Not until reading Ken Friedman’s text ‘Towards an Integrative Design Discipline’ have I realised the broader socioeconomic implications of design. Ken’s writings about design influenced and inspired me the most, and I wish I had this kind of advice earlier in my career.

What inspires your work?

When I was young, it was my home city that inspired me to take interest in architecture, art and design. I grew up in a house designed by Finnish architects. My neighbours were living in a house designed by Mexican architects. Japanese architects designed the centre of my city. In the city I was surrounded by some of the finest examples of futuristic architecture in the world. For example, since the 1970s, Skopje had solar-powered high-rise student housing. The National Opera House was a deconstructed pyramid that could rival the Sydney Opera House in terms of scale of visual impact. In the newly built Museum of Contemporary Art, there were works of art donated personally by artists such as Picasso and Calder. Skopje, at the time, was a unique, cosmopolitan city where one could marvel at extraordinary examples of visionary international architecture, art, design, and urban planning. I used to find all of that very inspiring. And it was that city that inspired me to do what I do. However, the city has changed dramatically, and I no longer live there. So, I try to find that same inspiration by travelling around the world.

What principles inform your work?

I like to apply social science research methodologies in my work. I believe in making informed design decisions, rather than relying purely on intuition or a gut feeling – as many designers do. Intuition is certainly necessary at some early stages, but I like to make sure that the overall strategy that I develop is evidence-based and grounded in research.

Do you have any tips for getting your ideas off the ground?

The idea creation process is different for different people. I like to do things systematically by doing a lot of prep work before I start developing any ideas. From the very beginning, I try to gain as much information as possible about the problem I am dealing with. Then, I do a comparative analysis between other similar problems and benchmark other existing solutions out there. Once I am confident that I have a good grasp of the problem, I try to identify possible areas where design or design thinking could be applied. I use this background information to set the parameters of the project, and this serves me as a foundation to start getting my ideas off the ground.

In line with this, I can also tell you what is not a good way to get your ideas of the ground: Never begin a project with preconceptions of what that project might be. The most obvious answer is not necessarily the right answer.

What role do you think design can play in addressing 21st century problems/challenges that are typically considered outside of the realm of design?

Many of the 21st century problems and challenges are far too complex to be approached in a conventional way and from a mono-disciplinary position. Designers tend to work in a manner that transcends disciplinary boundaries. They also like to challenge conventions and look at things from a different perspective. After all, complex problems require creative solutions, and being creative is what designers do. The next step for designers, I believe, is to look beyond the realm of their own profession and start applying the same way of thinking to different kind of problems.

Who is your double doppelgänger?

Doctor Evil, of course.

 

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4 comments

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Women Fashion Power exhibition opens in London

Zandra Rhodes - Photograph by Gene Nocon

The Design Museum has announced the full list of women taking part in its forthcoming WOMEN FASHION POWER exhibition, which opens 29 October 2014 in London. The exhibition examines the ways in which influential women have used fashion to define and enhance their position in the world, both throughout history and in the present day.

Each of the contemporary women featured in the exhibition is contributing an outfit for display as well as sharing their personal style philosophy. In alphabetical order, the women are:

Genevieve Bell, Vice President of Intel Labs, Director of User Experience
Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder and Director of Kids Company
Joan Burstein, Founder of Browns
Naomi Campbell, Model
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Wei Sun Christianson, Co-CEO Morgan Stanley, Asia Pacific
Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco Age
Miriam González Durántez, Partner at Dechert, wife of Deputy Prime Minister of the UK Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Thea Green MBE, Founder and Managing Director of Nails Inc.
HSH Princess Charlène of Monaco
Dame Zaha Hadid, Founder and Director of Zaha Hadid Architects
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris
Roksanda Ilincic, Designer
Qiong-er Jiang, Artistic Director of Shangxia, China
Anna Jones, Chief Executive of Hearst Magazines UK
Alfiya Kuanysheva, CEO of BATT, Kazakhstan
Pearl Lam, Owner of Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore
Natalie Massenet MBE, Founder and Executive Chair of NET-A-PORTER, Chair of British Fashion Council
Charlotte Olympia, Designer
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of the Serpentine Galleries
Dame Zandra Rhodes, Designer
Skin, Musician
Kirsty Wark, Journalist, broadcaster and writer
Dame Vivienne Westwood, Designer
Morwenna Wilson, Senior Projects Director at Argent LLP

WOMEN FASHION POWER also examines the last 150 years of women’s fashion with an immersive visual timeline which takes the visitor from the restrictive boned corsets of the nineteenth century to the statement Louboutin heels of today. Alongside archive photography and film footage, pieces on display include: a 1920s beaded ‘flapper’ dress, 1930s clothes and accessories owned by Elsa Schiaparelli, a 1941 handbag designed for carrying your gas mask in style, a 1966 Yves Saint Laurent ‘Le Smoking’ suit, the blue Mansfield suit worn by Margaret Thatcher when she was elected leader of the Conservative party in 1975, a punk wedding dress from Zandra Rhodes’ 1977 ‘Conceptual Chic’ collection, a pair of bubblegum-pink 1980s Reebok Hi Tops and the Jacques Azagury dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales on the occasion of her 36th birthday.

WOMEN FASHION POWER is designed by the world renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The exhibition is co-curated by fashion expert and commentator Colin McDowell and Donna Loveday, Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum.

While The Design Museum is located in London we think it is well worth a visit if you’re in the area! Shad Thames, SE1 2YD London, United Kingdom.

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21 comments

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Australia’s most awarded landscape architects launch Making Sense of Landscape

The National Arboretum, Canberra. Design by Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer. Shortlisted in 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards. Photograph by John Gollings.

One of the world’s most highly acclaimed landscape architecture firms, Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) will be coming to Brisbane this month to launch Making Sense of Landscape – a must-have book for landscape architecture and design enthusiasts.

Published by Spacemaker Press and edited by University Professors, Gini Lee and SueAnne Ware, Making Sense of Landscape features 17 essays by leading writers, academics, curators, artists and designers. The essays delve into over 25 years of work by TCL, accompanied by project plans, drawings and captivating professional photography.

Among the featured projects are the Australian Garden – Winner of the 2013 World Architecture Festival Landscape of the Year Award; The National Arboretum – shortlisted in 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards; and Auckland’s North Wharf Promenade, Jellicoe Street and Silo Park – Winner of the prestigious 2014 Rosa Barba Landscape Prize.

The book, which was launched earlier this year in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, will be launched in Brisbane by Dr Catherin Bull AM on Friday 17 October at the State Library of Queensland as part of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects’ National ‘Forecast’ Festival.

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5 comments

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Think Outside with John Macdonald

In the lead-up to Think Outside: Identity + Society we spoke to John Macdonald (Lightspace & Brisbane Heritage).

Brisbane born and bred, John Macdonald lived in London and Barcelona for many years before returning to his native city in 2004.  He opened Lightspace in 2009, a warehouse venue and coworking space in Fortitude Valley.  In 2011 he created Brisbane Heritage, a group that defends and encourages use of heritage buildings in this city. He is about to launch Prospect Studios another venue/coworking space in the Valley.

What does a typical day look like for you?


After a strong caffeine hit I like to get to the office early, say hello to the tenants in the studios and check everything is in order.  If there’s an event in the venue we prepare the space so it’s ready to go that evening.   We host a wide range of happenings so no two events are the same, this often means a lot of moving things around!  Lately I’ve also been focused on launching our new project (a sister coworking space/venue to Lightspace) so I’ve been spending long hours onsite getting it off the ground.

What can attendees to the Think Outside lecture expect to hear?


My two cents on making a better Brisbane by focusing on our built environment and the way this affects the formation of communities.

Where do you go to get inspiration?


Walking the street, reading as much as possible and the good old fashioned interweb.

What are your top 5 favourite design books?

Cities for People by Jan Gehl

Happy Cities by Charles Montgomery

The Style of Coworking

Industrial Chic Reconverting Spaces

If you weren’t a venue owner, what would you do?

Live somewhere exotic writing picaresque novels in the vein of Henry Miller and Hunter S Thompson.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Turning a raw warehouse into a space filled with warmth. From a vague idea six years ago Lightspace has grown into a building that gives happy memories to so many people, especially couples that get married in the venue and our wonderful tenants in the studios.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out in your profession?

Be prepared to work, work and then work some more.

What inspires your work?

The desire to do good things, both for myself and my surroundings.

What principles inform your work?

Creating atmosphere and intimacy.

Do you have any tips for getting your ideas of the ground?

Start somewhere, anywhere, and push as hard as you can. The important thing is to begin, then persevere and learn from your mistakes.

What role do you think design can play in addressing 21st century problems/challenges that are typically considered outside of the realm of design?

The built environment affects everything we do. Good design will always foster positive outcomes by creating spaces for ideas to bloom.

Who is your double doppelgänger?


I think one of me is enough!

 

Think Outside with Alison Page

In the lead-up to Think Outside: Identity + Economy, November 5, we spoke to Alison Page (Alison Page Design and National Aboriginal Design Agency).

Alison Page is descendant of the Walbanga and Wadi Wadi people of the Yuin nation.

She is an award-winning Designer and Creative Director of an award winning Aboriginal design studio. Up until recently, Alison was the founding CEO of the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance, which is an arts organization that brings together ten Aboriginal communities to host the annual Saltwater Freshwater Festival.

Since she graduated from Design at UTS in 1998, Ms Page has worked with various urban and rural Aboriginal communities in the delivery of culturally appropriate architectural and design services in association with Merrima Design. Exploring links between cultural identity, art and design, her work spans architecture, interiors, jewellery and public art. Since 2007, Alison Page has been collaborating with Mondial Pink Diamond Atelier’s on an award winning range of high end Aboriginal jewellery called Diamond Dreaming.

In 2013, Alison was named the Female Regional/ Rural Entrepreneur Manager of the Year in the National Australia Bank Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards and was named by Crikey as one of the top ten women to watch.

For eight years Ms Page was a regular panellist of the ABC program The New Inventors. Alison is a board member of Ninti One Ltd, the Indigenous Land Corporation and the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. In 2011 Alison was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Expert Panel for the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous People.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I am usually travelling with my job so I do a lot of catching up with people, drawing, writing and creating on planes and in airports.  My work is very relationship based so I am nearly always co-creating and meeting with people. The best thing about my job are the conversations I have with the people I am working with; from artists to community members, to clients and makers – we are talking about life and culture and finding new ways to communicate stories through design.

What can attendees to the Think Outside lecture expect to hear?

Design can play an important role in enriching the economic, social, environmental and cultural life of a place and seeing this from an indigenous cultural perspective is the next logical step for Australia. This country needs to embrace the worlds oldest living culture as it’s own national story and identity.

Where do you go to get inspiration?

Storytelling is at the heart of Aboriginal culture and it is central to my work. These stories reveal our cultural values, which are about the human connection to country, our extended kinship networks and the importance of family, about looking after elders and passing on knowledge to young people. These are the stories that I base my designs on as well as live my life by.

What are your top 5 favourite design books?

1.      Glimmer: How design can transform your business, your life, and maybe even the world by Warren Berger

2.      Gunyah, Goondie and Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia by Paul Memmott

3.      Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and practice by Robert Lawlor

4.      Torun: a conversation with Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe, by Ann Westin

5.      Florence Broadhurst: Her secret and extraordinary lives by Helen O’Neill

If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?

Filmmaking brings together storytelling with an intense creative process so it is very attractive to me as a medium. I am particularly interested in new media art installations because of the interplay between architecture and story through film.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Playing a part in the development of an emerging new industry that is Aboriginal design. When I graduated from interiors in 1997, there really was a small handful of indigenous designers and I joined the Merrima group to work with Dillon Kombumerri and Kevin O’Brien. Because we were the first indigenous architecture group, we were able to play an important part in defining contemporary Aboriginal architectural practice, strengthening opportunities and paving the way for others too follow. We now have many indigenous architects and designers in the industry, which is fantastic.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out in your profession?

I wish I had of been advised to embrace small business skills, particularly financial literacy. I avoided it for years, focusing more on the creative aspects of my work and my business suffered because of it. Now, I know how to read a balance sheet and I enjoy the commercial side to my design practice. I have taken this one step further and have built economic empowerment for artists into my practice.

What inspires your work?

I am very process orientated with my work. Indigenous ways of learning, knowing and creating are different to the western paradigm in that it is focused on story and relationship building. When strong relationships combine with heightened creativity and technical excellence, this is perfection to me.

What principles inform your work?

I try to continue the design principles that have existed in Aboriginal tool-making for 40,000 years, which is to make objects that are sophisticated in function, sustainable, beautiful and that tell a story.

Do you have any tips for getting your ideas of the ground?

There is a really great planning tool for mapping ideas and projects called ‘the heroes journey’, which uses the narrative structure of great films to help you plan. By identifying your call to adventure, your ultimate goals, your allies and your nemeses to plan your project like a story, you can have incredible clarity around what you are doing. It also helps to engage and recruit others into your journey.

What role do you think design can play in addressing 21st century problems/challenges that are typically considered outside of the realm of design?

Design is about problem solving, communication and lateral thinking so when it comes to dealing with wicked problems, creatives have a lot to offer in that we are trained to never say no, question everything and think outside the square. I would love to drop a bunch of designers into Aboriginal communities to help deal with the multitude of issues we face in a holistic way.

Who is your double doppelgänger?

Linda Kennedy is a young Aboriginal architect from the south coast of NSW, which is where I am from. When I first met her, I thought I was looking at a younger (and groovier) version of me!