The annual Design Fringe exhibition this yr centres on the provocation of speculative design. As an alternative of positioning design in “the ask and the reply”, Hypothesis: Eight Billion Little Utopias opens as much as prospects that mirror the fluctuating state of our world at this time and into the longer term.
Installations, furnishings, glass, lighting and design objects discover the right stability between curiosity and craftsmanship within the sun-filled galleries of Linden New Artwork. Jacky Cheng’s …that awaits on the finish of life (2023) is a meditative and poetic introduction to the present. Embedded within the intricate weavings are completely different textures of conventional paper usually utilized in ritual and worship, in addition to hair, recalling familial ties and reminiscences.
Chairs which are each practical and thought-provoking vary from the Giraffe Chair (2023) by Geoz Design, made utilizing leftover cardboard and polystyrene, to Maryam Moghadam’s Cheeky (2023), the place the seat pad replicates the squishiness of butt cheeks to provide sitters a bum-to-bum really feel.
Raiden (2023), additionally by Moghadam, is one other instance of refined design utilizing salvaged materials – a mid-century model document rack that’s adjustable to the scale of 1’s document assortment. The piece options materials rescued from a furnishings manufacturing unit bin, steel scrapyards and on-line marketplaces, whereas the marble-like knobs are constructed from melted HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic waste.
In different adjoining gallery areas, design presents prospects. Such embody Paul Charlwood’s Renter’s Sofa (2023). Fabricated from an outdated suitcase, the work feedback on Melbourne’s eye-watering property costs and affords a sarcastic method. Close by, Bonnie Lee’s Planet A is a powerful set up taking a look at the way forward for human habitation – idle and eerie in equal measure.
This yr’s Design Fringe locations specific concentrate on gender illustration, working along with the Naomi Milgrom Basis and the Victorian Girls’s Belief to make sure over half of the 47 collaborating artists establish as feminine or gender numerous. Marta Figueiredo’s room divider I’m going to the depths of the ocean inside the physique of a girl (2023) is an empowering instance. The piece radiates power in its golden panels and folklore motifs, full with vibrant wool offcuts.
Elsewhere, design seeks to ask questions by dismantling its bond with operate. That is seen by means of items reminiscent of Jake Williamson’s I already noticed that on instagram (2023), a espresso desk that may solely maintain a telephone, and Gemma Serafin’s VERDE (2023) with a sunken marble platform that’s fragile and tough to entry. These designs create issues for the consumer, slightly than provide options and even comfort.
In Linden’s upstairs area, Susan Lincoln’s The Swing (Mild, Water, Cloud) (2023) and Ilan El’s Cannons of Hope (An set up of 12) (2023) type a blinding and deeply partaking show. Guests will likely be immediately transported by Lincoln’s hanging crystal garlands that invite playfulness, whereas El’s deformed glass vases stand like mementos of resilience on two rows of metal plinths.
Learn: Circus assessment: Mr. III三III (Mr Three), NICA, Melbourne Fringe Competition
Design Fringe, as its title suggests, is enjoyable, quirky, visually stimulating and conceptually intriguing. However in Hypothesis: Eight Billion Little Utopias, it additionally exhibits us the probabilities of design when it’s geared with the duty of questioning. Does this proposition primarily erode the ability set with which designers are uniquely geared up, i.e. the ask with out the reply? Maybe it’s only by means of these questions that we will peek into the longer term.
Design Fringe 2023, Hypothesis: Eight Billion Little Utopias is on view at Linden New Artwork, St Kilda from 23 September to 26 November; free.