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It’s design festival season! Melbourne Design Week asks us to ‘Design the world you want’

With over 300 events planned, the eighth edition promises another marathon week of design and its theme is at once a proposition of hope and an urgent call-to-arms.

It’s design festival season! Melbourne Design Week asks us to ‘Design the world you want’

Tosin Oshinowo, photographed for Identity magazine by Bashar Belal.

What I love about design festivals is that they give you scope to be experimental and inquisitive, to work outside the bounds of business-as-usual, and share your most imaginative outpourings of creativity – and share all that hidden expertise. Melbourne Design Week (MDW), 23rd May to 2nd June, is an exciting hunting ground for fresh local talent, a place to connect with the wider creative community, and a destination for connecting with influential members of the global scene.

This year’s program, freshly launched, brings into focus the use of energy, ethics and ecology to encourage positive change, reimagine existing systems and offer innovative design solutions to complex global challenges. The theme gives program participants enormous breadth with which to address this – through exhibitions, displays, symposia and talks.

Melbourne Art Book Fair 2022 in the NGV Great Hall, Melbourne Art Book Fair 2024 will run from 23rd May to 2nd June at NGV International, Melbourne, photograph by Tobias Titz.

Among the most exciting hooks for this year’s MDW is a keynote by Nigerian architect Tosin Oshinowo who will share insights into her socially responsive approaches to urbanism. She’ll discuss architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, Africa and Asia to rethink approaches to design and architecture that address our most pressing cultural and climatic imperatives.

Also keynoting will be Dr Christine Checinska, senior curator of Africa and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum. There will also be an exhibition, opening at NGV International, that celebrates the creativity and global impact of African fashions from the mid-twentieth century to the present day.

Awards are also on the agenda with NGV and Stylecraft announcing the winner of the Australian Furniture Design Awards. This will also be accompanied by an exhibition of the five shortlisted works at the Stylecraft showroom.

One outstanding program participant will also be recognised by the 2024 Melbourne Design Week Award on the opening day of the design festival.

Marlo Lyda for MATTERS, photograph by Byron Martin.

Last year the MATTERS exhibition was a special highlight, and it returns again to explore themes of process, community and longevity with the likes of Adam Goodrum, Dean Norton, Jordan Fleming and Marlo Lyda.

Other sustainable design offerings come in the form of designer Ella Saddington with Material Matters, as she considers the longevity and sustainability of materials that surround us. Plus, programs delivered by City of Melbourne, BAR Studio and Plus Architecture explore the environmental benefits of adaptive reuse and repurposed buildings.

Related: OKO OLO at MDW

I, for one, can’t wait to check out the Telstra Creativity Innovation Series: Future of Food which returns again this year to present unique, speculative and thought-provoking food. It’s an event that champions new approaches to food and waste, exploring eco-innovation and potential solutions for environmental preservation.

There’s just so much to dig out of the program and probably the best place to start is to consider who you know and want to support, how do you want to challenge your views of the world, what areas of design and innovation are you keen to learn about? And, how do you want to experience it all: to listen, observe, interact? Stay up to date with the MDW program – soon to fully launch here – and plan out your multi-dimensional design festival journey from today.                                                          

Melbourne Design Week runs 23 May – 2 June at NGV International and at various locations throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria.

Melbourne Design Week


When Futures Collective took over Villa Alba at MDW 2023

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