Sydney Indesign 2017: The B2 District Wrap-Up

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SID17: Did You Make it To B2 District? …Cos It Was Amazing

At Sydney Indesign’s B2 District, we put a spotlight on our industry’s local heritage – its people, its achievements, and its brands. B2 was all about fostering a culture of appreciation for the unflagging passion that underlies the Australian architecture and design industry… And this year’s exhibitors totally nailed it! See why…



BY Sophia Watson

August 17th, 2017


Bringing global design to the local market, our B2 District exhibitors collectively celebrate the globalism of contemporary A+D with a distinctly Asia Pac flavour.

Here, LightCo was absolutely one of the B2 District’s (and the event’s) most sought-after locations! It was so crowded and popular that the party went into overtime and raged well into the early hours of the following morning! Throughout the event, LightCo launched some seriously exciting new international brands alongside some of owner Roy Doron’s signature Bloody Marys and Italian-inspired Mimosas. Each afternoon, visitors enjoyed grazing tables, including delicacies from around the world inside the beautifully atmospheric showroom, or outside on the picturesque decking under the Morton trees in the outdoor lighting beanbag cabana.

The LightCo highlight however, has to be their collaboration with recent winners of The Prodigy award at this year’s INDE’s – Caroline Choker and Vince Alafaci of Acme&Co for The Project. This stunning luminary wonderland entranced visitors in a kaleidoscopic demonstration of the power of lighting in what was certainly one of the most (if not, THE most) Instagrammed spaces of the event.

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Austrian-Australian timber masters, Mafi & Kebony by WOODOS were also hot contenders for ‘the place to be’ throughout the weekend. Transforming their showroom into a Mafi Ski and Health Chalet designed in collaboration with Billy Blue Design School for The Project, Mafi was certainly the place to be! Having launched several new ranges at SID17, team Mafi celebrated by gifting lucky visitors their very own pair of Mafi-brand 100% wool slippers and a Mafi Timber Air Purifier, not to mention the mega deluxe on-site Swedish massages, Austrian mulled-wine and vessels filled with assorted chocolates and candy!

On top of all the fun initiatives the brand is known for, Mafi also played their part in industry education by graciously hosting one of the Habitus LiveLife Design Hunter seminars, which gathered the design community and key industry icons to discuss how design should approach the trend toward inter-generational living.

Also featured at the Mafi & Kebony by WOODOS space was the Materials in Mind modified shipping container installation by Strategic Partner GECA, including certified flooring by Spectrum Flooring and Regupol, plasterboard by BGC Plasterboard, timber (Kebony) by Mafi, paints by Astec Paints, a living ‘green roof’ by Grass-cell and beautiful furniture by Zenith as well as a helping hand by The Bold Collective and Caen Creative. Visitors could interact with the house via the built-in educational elements, which outline the key environmental, health and social issues associated with different building materials. Additionally, the learned how to tell the difference between manufacturers who make genuine sustainability claims and those whose claims are merely “greenwash”. And as a final touch, visitors were able to contribute to the exhibit by leaving behind their wish for the planet on a collaborative wishing tree in the pod.

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Now, you could hardly go two steps around the B2 precinct without some event-goer raving about Zenith. And it’s not hard to see why. Zenith was one of the most adored and busiest corners of the event this year, having used SID17 as an opportunity to officially welcome German designer house Brunner into its portfolio. To celebrate, visitors gorged on sweet and savoury pretzels and Glühwein (mulled mine) over both days.

Perhaps what was most exciting though, was the lucky visitor who won a very glamorous return trip for two to the spa town of Baden-Baden nestled in Germany’s Black Forest, including four nights’ accommodation, and a dinner at one of Germany’s famed restaurants! The whole Zenith output was wonderfully curated head-to-toe, featuring hardcore insights and research into the future of the workplace with Brunner, and supported by uniquely German treats and customs that made the attending specifiiers and designers feel welcomed into the brand.

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Famed Australian-owned furniture manufacturer and design house Schiavello introduced the Australian design community to their latest range – Toku – created in collaboration with well-known interior and industrial designer, Gavin Harris. Within their stunningly designed B2 showcase, SID17 visitors were given an exclusive sneak peek into these much-anticipated creations. Across both days, designer Gavin Harris was on the stand, sharing the inspirations that drove the new Toku collection, and gave some critical insight into how the collection responds to the future of workplace design.

Also taking on the task of industry education, Schiavello’s own Kyle Vander Kuyp – Indigenous Australian Athlete and design industry leader – participated in a poignant Habitus LiveLife Design Hunter discussion on Australian design identities and communities, with a particular focus on how the Indigenous design world is leading the charge of redefining the role that design can play in expressing the identity of these communities.

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Fifth-generation family business and leader in hard surface materials Earp Bros officially launched their stunning new Starwood range at their recently debuted showroom. The Earp Bros showroom was the backdrop to this wonderfully curated tribute to Starwood, kitted out with an artisanal workshop that showcased the products’ unique properties. To top it al off, Earp Bros worked in collaboration with sought-after cult Australian industrial designer, Tom Fereday to deliver what might be the most beautiful interpretation of the CLICK concept for The Project that we’ve ever seen.

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And speaking of contemporary-cult designers, modern Melbourne-ites Dessein Furniture didn’t disappoint with their internationally recognised collections. Also featuring collaborative works with Tom Fereday, Simon Archer, Nathan Day, and Marcus Piper, Dessein Furniture attracted visitors with an up-close look at these renowned, highly shared ranges, not to mention one lucky visitor who took home a Pieman Armchair, designed by Tom Fereday. Jealous!

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A key addition to the precinct, however, is Pioneer: a focused showcase of 100% local Australian design curated by Indesign. From Dennis Abalos to Axolotl, Luxmy to Ross Didier, and So Watt, TIRAR, McDermott Baxter Light Studio, MAP and Made by Pen, these brands are preserving our home-grown integrity to elevate local design onto the global stage. Here’s a snapshot of what they got up to at this year’s Sydney Indesign…

Local Sydney designer, Dennis Abalos, known for his fresh, innovative, functional design, showcased the fresh new Jacaranda Lamp alongside an outdoor furniture range for Australis Leisure. Some lucky visitors also went home with Jacaranda Lamps by participating in the brand’s social media competition.

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The great thing about the pioneer space was that it never failed to surprise. Just when you thought you knew everything about this local set of Aussie designers, they give you the unexpected.

Axolotl for example, has always pushed the boundaries of design since 1995 when it pioneered the bonding of semi-precious metal onto any substrate. Visitors were pleasantly surprised however, to see these renowned metal finish masters launch into the world of commercial paint. Axolotl shocked event goers with their beautifully considered paint range, showcasing three new colours; Scope, Musk and Adena, and omg, visitors just jumped at the chance to learn how to integrate these stunning new colors into their projects and products. We overheard a lot of on-stand potential collaborations brewing that go across interiors, furniture – even automotive and architectural exteriors.

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And speaking of the unexpected, it wouldn’t be a challenge to convention if it didn’t include Didier.

For those that might not know, one of Australia’s most inventive furniture designers, Melbourne-based Ross Didier is guided by the founding principle that his products must be innovative, intriguing and functional. Didier’s work is underpinned by a strong philosophy that manufacturing, ideas and design are interwoven – an approach to designing he refers to as engineered art.

For his Sydney Indesign showcase, Didier demonstrated his latest innovative designs, including the Cappala seating collection, the Gelava chairs and the highly popular Liqueur table. Didier is a storyteller at heart, and being able to talk shop and ideation process with the brand is always an intriguing experience that makes you want to discover more.

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Pioneer also revealed that some brands have been investing a great deal of their effort into R+D, particularly around the future of the workplace. Here, we discovered that Luxmy had been investigating the needs of the agile workspace, and what the demands are for product design are in this area. What they discovered was the need for movable, customisable solutions where each user is able to maneuver the products to deliver exactly what they need from them, with ease and flexibility.

In that vein, Luxmy celebrated the launch of the Funhouse Teacup by LuxStudio, and the Splinter Collection by Caren Elliss – whom some lucky visitors had the opportunity to meet and talk shop with! One lucky event-goer even took home an exclusive Splinter stool signed by Elliss. Click below to check it out!

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New kids on the block, Melbourne-based Made by Pen were definitely a hot favourite among visitors, who really feel in love with their innovative and architecturally-inspired products through a unique collaborations with key Australian designer such as Nick Rennie and Helen Kontouris. A crowd fave was the unbreakable decorative mirror with an in-built fire-blanket.

Visitors were thrilled to meet first time SID-ers Made by Pen, who regaled the industry with some stunning innovations with materials like silicon and Carerra marble, and sharing their true passion for creating timeless pieces for the most inspiring built environments where we work, live and play! Additionally, their amazingly cool collaboration with Meanwhile in Melbourne intelligently and simply expressed The Project’s theme of CLICK with a linear lighting installation which asked visitors to ‘click into’ the graphic wall map of key global design touch points, and literally illuminating how the Australian region connects the larger design world.

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Synonymous with design excellence, award-winning maker of Australian furniture and objects, MAP brought their personal experiences and feedback from exhibiting all over the world, including Milan, Bremen, Los Angeles, the permanent collection of MOMA New York, Powerhouse Museum Sydney and NGV Gallery. Designed by Chris Connell, MAP shared their insights on the relationship between object and place – and visitors were thrilled to finally get up close and personal with one of Australia’s most talked about brands.

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One where we are seeing Australian designers doing exceptional things is lighting. McDermott Baxter, a local studio known for exploring the intersection of light, shadow, architecture, wowed visitors (including lighting noobs and luminary geeks alike) with the launch of their new Nimbus collection of suspended luminaires. Visitors were drawn in like moths to the flame, and once on the stand, had the rare opportunity to talk shop with some of the most innovative and avant-garde light studios on the world stage today.

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Another exciting characteristic of Australian design is that we aren’t so bogged down by the history and tradition of our European friends. Here, we can be inventive, experiment and test accepted boundaries to reimagine new and unusual and more efficient material applications, shapes and scales, clever packaging and assembly techniques. This philosophy is what visitors were inspired with at So Watt. Take a look here. First-time SID exhibitors So Watt celebrated the showcase of their industrial and furniture design studio and workshop with flare and distinction. Their playful, practical and collaborative pieces can be found in many cafes, offices and modern homes, and so attending specifiyers and interior designers jumped at the chance to talk all things “traditional and contemporary making techniques” that this provocative brand are known for.

Another new face on the Australian design scene was TIRAR, a collection of elegant, simple and uncompromisingly contemporary solid timber door furniture that is defined by its appeal to the senses. Launching officially in Australia at SID17, specifiers were excited to finally get their hands on the material (we are a tactile bunch after all) and were keen to have access to all they could possibly want to know about this exciting new brand.

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