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Big social issues on the agenda at Melbourne Design Week 2019

From Melbourne’s connection to the Yarra River through to climate change and waste, this year’s program for Melbourne Design Week is asking how design can influence social good.

  • Watering the Garden talk will look at water in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Photo by Adrian Vittorio.

  • Interior Futures, photo by Ed Hollis.

  • McIntyre Drive Social Housing Altona as part of HOW DO WE BUILD THE NEXT GENERATION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING? Photo by Trevor Mein.

  • The Supply Chain commissioned for Designwork #3. Photo by Kyoko Hashimoto.

Going into its third year, the 2019 Melbourne Design Week program is extensive, but don’t let the quantity be perceived as overriding quality. There is a substance to the topics being covered this year that dive much deeper than in years past.

The overarching theme for this year’s Melbourne Design Week is Design Experiments, which then asks the question ‘how can design shape the future?’ This lofty sentiment takes the scope and lens of Australian design and opens it out to the world at large and looks to showcase how design can have an impact.

For all passionate design lovers we suggest going through the website but at a glance, there are five thematic pillars that punctuate the 10-day event.

The War on Waste

Climate change and pollution are up there as some of the biggest moral dilemmas facing our planet today. But solving these problems will take creativity and radical thought. Under The War on Waste banner, several events have been curated in response including an exhibition featuring products made from waste materials. Other highlights include the Toxic City? Symposium presented in partnership with The New York Times.

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The Supply Chain commissioned for Designwork #3. Photo by Kyoko Hashimoto.

The Supply Chain commissioned for Designwork #3. Photo by Kyoko Hashimoto.

Reconnecting with Birrarung (Yarra River)

Melbourne is shaped by the Yarra River but has long been forgotten by white settlement. This series of programming, presented by Open House Melbourne looks to reconnect to the historical and significance of the Yarra, reflecting on its importance to local indigenous peoples and posing questions around how design can reinstate the community’s relationship with the river. Event highlights include several river talks that will take place afloat on the Yarra. Another key event is a talk around Fishermans Bend.

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Watering the Garden talk will look at water in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Photo by Adrian Vittorio.

Watering the Garden talk will look at water in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Photo by Adrian Vittorio.

Material Matters

Materials themselves are big players in the global sustainability ecosystem. From synthetics to the rise of natural materials and a look at the production and supply chains, this pillar explores how new ways of looking at materials can have a bigger knock-on effect than what might be expected. Highlights include a keynote talk in the Geelong Gallery by Dale Hardiman (Dowel Jones) on material experimentation. Studio Edwards will also present a follow on event from last year’s plasticity with an exhibition this year titled Elasticity.

Dale Hardiman. Photo by Kristoffer Paulsen.

Dale Hardiman. Photo by Kristoffer Paulsen.

Possible Futures 

One of design’s roles is to prepare for the future. As design shapes so much of what is visible and invisible, this stream of events looks into the many ways that designers are crossing boundaries with science, technology and culture to create a better future. Highlights include a keynote by world-renowned digital media artist Refik Anadol. Portable will also present a talk on it’s the Future of Death and Ageing in Australia report.

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Portable will present a talk on The Future of Death and Ageing in Australia.

Portable will present a talk on The Future of Death and Ageing in Australia.

Inclusive Cities

The final thematic series of events is around inclusive cities. As our urban environments become ever more populated designers, architects and city-makers will need to respond. From affordable housing to gender diversity this series engages with topics that every citizen can relate to.

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McIntyre Drive Social Housing Altona as part of How do we build the next generation of affordable housing? Photo by Trevor Mein.

McIntyre Drive Social Housing Altona as part of How do we build the next generation of affordable housing? Photo by Trevor Mein.

Melbourne Design Week will run from Thursday 14 – Sunday 24 March 2019. Stay tuned for other events to be announced with Indesign. 

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