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Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific

Indesign Online Editor, Ben Morgan takes us through some of the events at the inaugural Asia Pacific Design Triennial.

Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific


October 12th, 2010

Friday 8 October 2010

After a big day yesterday, today was set to be just as big as I checked out the remainder of the exhibitions and attended the Brisbane launch of the Authentic Design Alliance.

I managed to see a lot of the exhibitions I’d missed yesterday, including the Constellation installation hanging above the new Asia Pacific Design Library on the 2nd floor of the State Library.

constellation kent gration

Constellation is a tribute to one of the most ubiquitous materials in our region – bamboo – with lighting designs by Kent Gration of Wambamboo.

constellation kent gration

We’ll also be bringing you more on the Asia Pacific Design Library in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

I then checked out the touring Unleashed exhibition, alongside the results of the goDesign Travelling Workshop Program, presenting some exciting new design concepts (including one clever seat made from hundreds of used coat hangers – very cool).

design library

Throughout the Library I was treated to a number of installations as part of the Light from Light exhibition – a collection of works by artists from Australia and China. Described as a “metaphor for illumination and knowledge” the project is an initiative of Multimedia Art Asia Pacific.

design library

My day was rapidly disappearing, but the next call was the Brisbane launch of the Authentic Design Alliance – held at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre alongside The Italian Way of Seating exhibition – celebrating 50 years of Italian chairs.

italian way of seating

International guest Roberto Verganti explained that a design’s value is in its meaning – and fakes lack this meaning, therefore lack value. His insightful presentation was followed by a Q+A led by Cameron Bruhn with Kirsti Simpson of HASSELL and Paul Morris of Join (Australia).

italian way of seating

From here it was back to the SLQ to check out the Pen Plan Parlour – a look at the future of the city of Brisbane CBD. A scale model of the city was created by March Studio in timber blocks and children invited to engage with these ‘building blocks’.

pen plan parlour

By the time I got to this particular exhibition the children had obviously had a wonderful time colouring in and rearranging the installation – getting hands-on with the future of the city.

pen plan parlour

Unfortunately this spells the end of my brief trip to Brisbane. It was an eye-opening experience, particularly listening to the inspiring speakers at the Symposium – working with many of the most disadvantaged people in the Asia Pacific and across the globe.

This was most certainly an event focussed on ‘design thinking’, not just a celebration of the objects and buildings of design, but an exploration of a new way of thinking.

The program has set the groundwork for an ongoing approach to building the Asia Pacific, where Australia is not an island, but part of a close, tangible community, linked by climate, location and opportunity. The program continues online at unlimitedap.com.

Well done Queensland. Bring on the next 3 years, and beyond.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Today was all about the exhibitions, which unfortunately meant that I missed the second half of the workshop by IDEO’s Paul Bennett on Food Futures – but diversity is a big part of our region, so it was also a big part of my day.

I started at The Studio at the State Library of Queensland, where the major exhibition ‘Make Change: design thinking in action’ explored a range of programs being implemented around the region – from inexpensive, efficient solar lanterns to floating schoolhouses and a ‘straw’ with built-in filter to purify drinking water.

design thinking in action

The entire exhibition space (designed by MARCH Studios and curated by Fleur Watson) has been made from large sheets of white paper, with visitors invited to immerse themselves in the fragile, yet architectural surroundings.

With a number of the initiatives on display dealing with water-related issues, it is a poetic juxtaposition and, in my mind, reflects the fragile, yet resilient nature of communities in the Asia Pacific.

After the major exhibition it was off to some of the ‘satellite’ offerings, including a great pop-up by DEKA on Grey St, with their latest work ‘trans-form-it’ on show – a range of Queensland designed and made foldable, ‘hideable’ and incredibly compact furniture.

Nearby on Melbourne St, Christina Waterson’s ‘Where we Live’ is on display in the Raw Space window – part of her creative sparks program. A number of Christina’s designs are on show and her exploration into the archetypal Queensland home, the Queenslander.

Wandering down to the Grand Arbour (designed by Denton Corker Marshall 1997) I looked up to find the 2010 Australian Graphic Design Association’s poster annual – a competition which asked designers to challenge the notion of design as ‘making beautiful things’ and promote design thinking as a “driver for positive change”.

australian graphic design association

A wonderful selection of posters, complemented by the AGDA Student Posters exhibition in the Library – where typography explores ‘Words of Optimism’.

australian graphic design association


australian graphic design association


australian graphic design association

Later in the day and across town in Fortitude Valley I was lucky enough to get a guided tour of some artisanal hotspots with, well Artisan. It was the launch of their Audio Design Museum tours, which are audio-guided tours around design precincts in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

audio design museum

Artisan also launched an exhibition celebrating architectural tinsmithery with ‘Tinsmith: An Ordinary Romance’ – an exhibition by Barbara Heath.

audio design museum


audio design museum


audio design museum

In the evening I caught the launch of Quench (I’ve walked past these orange cubes about a million times now!) which was a great gathering of creative minds, before shooting upstairs to grab my Paul Bennett fix (I think I’m turning into a Paul Bennett/IDEO groupie!).

Now, off to bed, for tomorrow we must visit the rest of the exhibitions, launch the Authentic Design Alliance and interview Mr Bennett (fingers crossed) and Jeb Brugmann, founding partner of The Next Practice.

Stay tuned.


Wednesday 6 October 2010

Well, my first day at the Asia Pacific Design Triennial (Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific) was jam-packed with some amazing presentations, workshops, installations and events.

First up in the morning I attended the Unlimited Symposium at the State Library of Queensland (SLQ), where local and international speakers set the tone for a discussion around ‘design thinking’ – as distinct from a simple self-congratulatory celebration of design as product.

The first speaker, Julianne Schultz of the Griffith REVIEW grounded the discussions in locality, using the Brisbane River as an analogy and a physical example of the design challenges facing Queensland and their pragmatic ability to address those challenges.

We were then treated to a number of international speakers, including CJ Lim of London’s Studio8, Mark Ingram of Business for Millennium Development, Bunker Roy of the Barefoot College, Marie So of Shokay and the amazing Paul Bennett of IDEO.

cj lim studio 8

Each spoke about their unique dedication to a design way of thinking, of how they are changing the world in small and big ways.

This symposium was not a celebration of product or building designs, but an exciting discussion of the possibilities we have in the Asia Pacific to improve life; both urban and rural.

Next week we will bring you some profiles of the presenters, including CJ Lim, who I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting after the Symposium and Paul Bennett who I’ll meet with today.

cj lim studio 8

Following the symposium I sat in on Bennett’s Food Futures workshop – absolutely amazing. There was no watching to be done – he wanted everyone in the room to be ‘designer’ (everyone in the world for that matter) and get involved.

paul bennett

Paul Bennett talking at the Unlimited Symposium

The aim of the workshop (continuing today) is to come up with ways of addressing the food-related issues facing Australia – poor nutrition, rising obesity etc.

paul bennett at unlimited symposium

As you can see, this doesn’t really sound like a ‘design festival’, and it’s not.

quench at unlimited

Although there are wonderful installations – including Haus by Alexander Lotersztain and the Quench display in the foyer of the SLQ – and the exhibitions dotted throughout South bank, there is a diverse range of people at this event, from designers and architects to government and business, all coming together to finally talk about the region that we live in.

quench alexander loterszstain

We can only hope that this event will strike a chord with the attendees and we can all begin to change the world in which we live.

Bring on day 2!

Unlimited: Designing for Asia Pacific

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