This year’s Sydney Design Week (SDW2022) culminated in a display of colour and creativity with events, exhibitions and hands-on workshops. From a showcase of new Australian design and a sneak peek of a rooftop restaurant designed by Fiona Lynch, through to ceramic making led by Karen Black and talks with local and international design identities, including the likes of Nipa Doshi (Doshi Levien), David Flack (Flack Studio) and Bruce Man (Massive Change Network), there was plenty to see and do.
Centered on the theme of “Making Now”, the program spanned the Powerhouse Museum and venues across the city. According to SDW2022 creative director Stephen Todd, the event celebrated designers, doers and thinkers who are defining the cultural moment. “As the parameters of ‘design’ expand beyond the concept of the singular genius enshrined by the modernist tradition, SDW2022 explores collaboration and cross-pollination between established and emerging creatives and across disciplines: from industrial and craft production in the product and interior design sectors to graphic, sound, art direction and scenography design. By opening up design to a myriad of inputs and unexpected outcomes, Making Now sets the scene for the future,” explains Todd.
A highlight of the program was a keynote address from Nipa Doshi of London-based studio Doshi Levien. Alongside her partner, Jonathan Levien, Doshi creates work that transcends rational and functional qualities to imbue a true inner beauty in their projects. Leading companies such as Moroso, Kvadrat and Kettal are among the studio’s collaborators, along with cultural institutions including Sevres – Cité de la Céramique and Galerie Kreo.
In conversation with Stephen Todd at the Powerhouse Museum, Doshi delved into her upbringing in India and early influences, including studying at the Royal College of Art, where she first met Levien. These foundations have shaped Doshi Levien’s unique approach to design, which focuses on the importance of cross-cultural perspectives and visual culture.
Doshi also shared insights into the studio’s process, which involves seamless collaboration between her and Levien. An example is “Cabinet Chandigarh”, which is part of a series of works designed by Doshi Levien in dialogue with modernist master Le Corbusier’s iconic architecture in India. The form of the cabinet was initially created by Levien and given to Doshi as a blank canvas to artfully apply colour and composition, bringing the piece to life. Made in collaboration with Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, the cabinet features porcelain components that showcase remarkable craftsmanship.
To coincide with Doshi’s keynote, Mobilia hosted a series of workshops nationally which invited participants to customise a miniature model of Doshi Levien’s Paper Planes armchair. Designed in 2010 for Moroso, the Paper Planes armchair was created from a new fabric design by Doshi Levien, which incorporated Swarovski crystal elements. The design of the chair itself involved created shapes by folding and modelling paper.
The workshop participants upholstered a blank miniature Paper Planes shell using an array of Kvadrat textiles and the results were inspiring. While some focused on technique, whether it be hand-stitching, fringing or weaving, to name a few, others spent time carefully selecting fabric combinations, many drawing inspiration from the original piece itself. A series of winning miniature models were chosen from each state (NSW, VIC & WA) whose makers will receive an original Paper Planes armchair.
To celebrate the workshops held in Melbourne and following Doshi’s appearances at Sydney Design Week, Mobilia also hosted an exclusive ‘meet-and-greet’ event at their Richmond showroom which saw guests enjoying house beats along with a spring-inspired menu designed by acclaimed chef Joe Vargetto and seamlessly executed by Clover Culinary Projects.
Other Sydney Design Week highlights included a sell-out program of events curated by Flack Studio at the Ace Hotel. Among them was a workshop facilitated by Karen Black where participants were invited to create a small ceramic piece. The resulting artworks became part of a growing exhibition displayed in Ace Hotel's Good Chemistry cafe.
Some lucky Sydney Design Week goers also had the opportunity to preview the Hotel's rooftop restaurant, Kiln, designed by Fiona Lynch Office. Guests enjoyed drinks and snacks by chef Mitch Orr, while taking in the 360-degree view of Sydney.