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Ewan McEoin on the Design Triennial

Indesign’s Online Editor, Ben Morgan, interviews Ewan McEoin following his appointment as Creative Director of the Asia-Pacific Design Triennial.

Ewan McEoin on the Design Triennial


April 14th, 2010

Ewan McEoin – previously Creative Director of Victoria’s State of Design Festival ­– was last week announced as the Creative Director of the first Asia Pacific Design Triennial.

Although the Triennial –  part of the Queensland Design Strategy 2020 – is still in development, McEoin took time to speak with us about his plans.

An international event

Despite being held in Queensland’s capital, the Triennial will be an international event, encompassing design across the Asia Pacific region.

“It’s an outward-looking program from Australia and from Queensland,” McEoin explains. “The Asia Pacific is a very diverse group of countries, different political contexts, different social and environmental contexts.

“In its first edition we’re looking at [the Triennial] being more of a design-led mapping project – of establishing the common ground between the different nations of the Asia Pacific.”



A dynamic program

The Creative Director and his team, including Fleur Watson (Senior Curator) and Heidi Dokulil (Content Director), will be working to create a dynamic event, not just a static presentation of design.

“The proposition is how can design help to shape the future that we want within the Asia Pacific? It’s not a process of us just gathering the design that’s already going on and presenting it as an exhibition.”

“One of our key strategies this year is also to develop a really strong online presence – that’s not just an event site, but more about curating a lot of content online. To use a hybrid digital space, with live events around that space.”



For business

The Triennial is already being closely scrutinised by the design community for benefits to business and the profession.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to articulate what role design might have in the business of the future,” McEoin says.

“We’re in a position where the Queensland government, and Premier Bligh in particular, have placed a design program at the centre of their future strategy for the state.

“That recognition from the state government is very important and can’t be understated in terms of how it shifts the perceptions of business, locally and internationally.”

For Design businesses, McEoin sees the Triennial as a place to make their voices heard among the wider community.

“In terms of the business of design, the triennial presents an opportunity for design businesses to examine their roles in our communities,” he says.

“I think personally, that the design industry needs to articulate their vision for the future.”



For Education

The Triennial team will be looking to foster design within education, however, the event is aiming to move away from a dogmatic approach.

“We’re very keen as a team of curators to engage children in the program, so we’ll be looking at education from a primary, secondary and tertiary level,” the Creative Director says.

“We feel it’s very important to discuss what children and young people want from design in the future, rather than simply telling them how wonderful design is.”



For Creativity

McEoin sees the Triennial as bringing together creativity and the practicalities of the Asia Pacific context.

“The question that the triennial will ask is: what are you using your creativity for?” McEoin says.

“I think what is really interesting is that Queensland is willing to explore [this] sort of space, and has actually requested that we explore it, rather than just creating a branding event, which is what a lot of other design programs have become.

“The Triennial can’t be everything to everybody, but we’re certainly interested in how creativity engages with the real needs of the future and creates new and interesting strategies and solutions.”


As further details emerge of the Triennial program, Indesign will bring you regular updates, continuing our commitment to supporting the design community throughout the Region.


Asia Pacific Design Triennial




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