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’Worry gaps’ in design triennial: DIA

Professional bodies are yet to be briefed on the Design Triennial, sparking fears that the event is being rushed. indesignlive.com’s Business Editor Gemma Battenbough reports.

’Worry gaps’ in design triennial: DIA


April 14th, 2010

Costing $1.5 million, the inaugural Design Triennial to be held in Brisbane in 4-10 October is being lauded as the “centrepiece” of the Queensland Design Strategy 2020.

But, with just six months to go and a Creative Director only appointed last week, industry experts are expressing concern that the event could be rushed and money wasted.

Professional associations, such as the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), are yet to be briefed. Co-president of the Queensland arm of the DIA, Natalie Wright, told indesignlive.com that she backed anything that put design on the agenda. However, she was not sure the event would benefit design professionals. 

“It is a concern that so much money has been set aside without involving the professional associations,” she said. “Where is that money being spent? And is it being spent in the best possible way? I worry that it’s too short notice to engage the profession.”

Wright identified a “worrying gap” in the Arts Queensland program under design education.

“These are the designers of our future and we should be thinking about how to engage them in industry,” she said.

A spokesperson from Arts Queensland told indesignlive.com that, while the DIA has not yet been involved, the department undertook “an extensive series of meetings” with design industry stakeholders about the Triennial.

These meetings provided a framework for the event management team while retaining the freedom to shape the program, the spokesperson said.

“There is strong support from the stakeholders involved in the Design Triennial and planning is now moving swiftly with key announcements to be made over the coming weeks,” she said.

The event management team is also hoping to engage children in the program, the spokesperson said, and will be looking at education from a primary, secondary and tertiary level.

Andrew Gutteridge, director of Brisbane-based architectural firm Arkhefield, said that firms are eager to demystify design for potential business partners and show off their skills.

“Design is often seen as an unnecessary expense, but good design has strong economic benefits,” he said.

But the event “will not be a marketing showcase for Queensland designers”, its newly-appointed Creative Director, Ewan McEoin, told indesignlive.com.

Instead, it will focus on “design thinking”, bringing together experts in business, design, research, academia and government, he said.

“The driving force behind the Triennial is not to create new business opportunities for design firms in Queensland. Instead, we want to know how design thinking plays a role in creating the future lives we all want. It will explore the design opportunities to come out of the constraints of working in Asia Pacific.”

The program is broad because it seeks to explore how design can be integrated into all aspects of business and life, he said.

“We’ll be exploring a broad set of needs across a broad area. So it’s not about what is good or bad design, it’s about how design can respond to specific needs and places.”

McEoin will work with a consortium of industry professionals, led by Arts Events Management Australasia and the Australian Design Unit, across three states – Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria – to deliver the Triennial centred around Brisbane’s Southbank.

“We have the full support of government to produce a program that is innovative, issues led and results oriented. The program strives to bring Queensland and Asia-Pacific businesses, the design sector and communities together to devise ways of using design as a powerful tool for sustainable development and social benefit,” McEoin said.

Asia Pacific Design Triennial

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