Sydney Indesign 2017: The Venue Wrap-Up

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SID17: What Went Down At The Venue?

Global design fairs usually occupy dull exhibition halls, where besuited visitors trudge down rows of same-same stands. SO. BORING. This is why every year at Sydney Indesign, we turned things up a notch at The Venue: one location with one enormous lineup! And it was truly stellar…



BY Sophia Watson

August 17th, 2017


Fresh from the top-tier studios across the world, the latest in commercial furniture design was the beating heart of Sydney Indesign’s The Venue. Illuminated by the recent arrivals from Euroluce in Milan earlier this year, the most coveted lighting innovations for the year ahead certainly drew the crowds!

Acting as a showcase for the breadth and diversity of products, brands, applications, people in one centralised sweep, The Venue was a comprehensive snapshot of  A+D today. And in case you missed it, or simply couldn’t get around to everything, here’s a rundown of what made headlines…

Whether you were after the latest in finishes – timber, laminate, stone, and everything in between – or whether  an immersion in fixed and fitted componentry was more what you had in mind, The Venue really did have it all. And, when you’re feet were JUST beginning to give up on you, there was plenty of places to take a quick breather, sit down and relax … thanks to a handful of our best furniture designers from Australia and beyond including some wonderfully designer flooring at the main registration area by Silver Sponsor Godfrey Hirst, which also featured a wonderfully comfortable range of furniture courtesy of Strategic Partners Wilkhahn. In the secondary registration area, Australian design house So Watt offered visitors some luxurious respite from the hustle and bustle of one of the event’s busiest precincts.

Another relaxation favourite at The Venue was the chill-out café area, furnished by independent Kiwi designers Great Barrier Furniture, offering visitors a chance to relax and enjoy a beverage or two in true designer-style.

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After an intensive day of seminars, product previews, brand launches and shop talk, The Venue hosted some seriously fun Up Late activations and activities on the Friday night, complete with canapes, drinks, live music, networking and exclusive design demonstrations.

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Arguably the most Instagrammed feature of The Venue was the gloriously ethereal stand for Diamond Sponsor Zip Water, designed in collaboration with SJB for The Project, featuring bespoke solid stone benchtops from Dekton by Cosentino. This stunning waterfall of soft white string acted as a willow-like canopy to house Zip Water’s latest innovations: the All-In-One Celsius and Vestal Water. To celebrate the launch, Zip Water gave away limited edition water bottles so visitors could stay hydrated with ZIP chilled and sparkling filtered water at their pop-up bar. The ZIP stand was certainly one of the most epic attractions to the event this year, and was met with awes and gasps by event-goers. A definite top-moment at The Venue and SID17 overall.

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Stormtech, famed supplier of Australian made and manufactured architectural drainage solutions, boasted a creatively intelligent collaboration with Cox Architecture for The Project, with an insightful expression of this year’s theme of CLICK. This crowd-favorite collaboration between Stormtech and Cox Architecture created a multi- sensory, activity-based experience assembled through several interactive elements. Each element played on light, sound and a combination of mechanical and fluid movement. Within contemporary high-tech environments, we are constantly surrounded by, and engaging with, systems of instant reaction and response. Generated by minute CLICKS, technology has moved away from allowing us to see these complex networks and systems of chain reactions. Rather they become internalised, invisible responses with a particular instant effect. Challenging the conventional use and function of drainage system, this installation constantly abstracted, re-formed and was ultimately activated by the interactions of individuals through an infinite chain reactions of cause and effect. And, WOW – it was just stunning.

Visitors also enjoyed browsing Stormtech’s range of drainage solutions, including their Slimline Marc Newson designer grate created in collaboration with renowned designer, Marc Newson.

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A key talking point for practising designers is materiality, and its increasing relevance as a critical element in design projects across a range of sectors and typologies. Australian supplier of surfacing solutions Alternative Surfaces took this as their driving focus for this year’s Sydney Indesign. Designed to explore the relationship between surface and texture, The Alternative Surfaces Pavilion was a high-impact space with a big purpose.

Inspired by Brutalist design forms, the cubic facade contrasted sweeping internal curved walls, demonstrating the versatility and precision of Alternative Surfaces  finishes. We’ve all heard the horror stories of designers who have specified surfaces to wrap around poles and columns, and when the builders try to apply it, they snap or warp! Alternative Surfaces demonstrated the unique (and quite impressive) flexibility and capabilities of their products… and visitors were certainly keen to find out more.

Additionally, teaming up with The Latitude Group for The Project, Alternative Surfaces showcased their Project entry, designed to explore the relationship between surface and texture. Inspired by Brutalist design forms, the cubic facade wasw juxtaposed by sweeping internal curved walls, giving the space a beautifully paired-back experience for visitors to focus on what was important.

Returning to Sydney Indesign following the recent relaunch of their Sydney showroom, Interstudio once again worked collaboratively with Zunica Design to create an inspiring exhibition stand that reinterpreted the different ways that we negotiate spaces to live, work and play in. Offering visitors the exclusive opportunity to win a SoFi Mesh Chair by HÅG and the Giravolta from Pedrali, and a roundtable Q&A with International guest (courtesy of  the Consulate General of the Netherlands) Rasmus Frisk from arki_lab, Interstudio was certainly one of the busiest locations at SID17!

Outside of The Venue, the new Interstudio Chippendale showroom was also the setting of the sold-out WorkLife seminar sponsored by Flokk (formerly Scandinavian Business Seating) , Hot Enough To Hashtag, which featured prominent figures in Australian design such as David Flack (Flack Studio), Medora Danz (Blu Dot), Adele Bates (Adele Bates Design), Prof. Jonathan Hutchinson (USYD) and Angela Ferguson (Futurespace) sharing their experiences as social media influencers within design.

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The Venue was also a space where visitors could get reacquainted with old friends. Australian design manufacturer Schiavello reintroduced the local design community to famed Spanish designer Mario Ruiz and his studio MR Chair. With a focus on modern simplicity and a refined geometric form, renowned Melbourne-based designerAdele Bates took inspiration from the MR Chair itself and creatively produced theMR Chair stand for The Project to reflectMR Chair’s core ideals, specifically how its contemporary aesthetic reflects the human scale. Elements of colour responded to the varied palette of the chair’s finishes and a rendered textural element echoed the visually tactile nature of the range. It was simply stunning, and definitely a visitor fave at this year’s event as we overheard on the Sunbrella sponsored hop-on/hop-off buses.

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In addition to the latest products, people and innovations, The Venue was a space where new ideas and concepts were explored. The world’s largest designer and manufacturer of modular flooring, and this year’s official tote bag sponsor Interface explored and shared their +Positive Spaces initiative with attending architects, designers and specifiers, as a new way to design environments that empower the end-user. Here, Interface launched their new Global Change modular carpet, offering visitors the opportunity to preview their much-anticipated new range of Luxury Vinyl Tiles, learn just how much design can help shape brighter, healthier and happier tomorrows – a hot-button issue in the current design climate, particularly in the workplace sector.

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Though some may think that Sydney Indesign is just for the local Sydney-sider, the event is actually an epicentre for national, regional and even global industry players. The NL Curated // Dutch Contemporary Design Collective pop-up adjacent the primary registration area at The Venue showcased Dutch design brands including Siba Sahabi, Leff, United Nude, ByBorre, Stiger Woods, Studio Drift, Vlieger & Vandam, Mae Engelgeer and Olivier van Herpt.

In anticipation of the launch of the NL Curated // Dutch Contemporary Design Collective pop-up shop in Surry Hills this October, the Consulate General of the Netherlands brought visitors a taste of some of the wonderful Dutch design brands that will be here before you know it! The Consul General of the Netherlands was also out and about sharing more about the latest in Dutch design and its increasing relevance to the Australian design landscape… and visitors couldn’t get enough.

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Contemporary furniture supplier OBODO celebrated the showcasing of their fresh and extensive collection of commercial, contract and residential design pieces with a visit from famed international interior and industrial designer Sean Dix – all the way from Hong Kong!

Joined by Dix on Friday and Saturday,OBODO launched four new products: Simply, Abrazo, Flow, and a new ply chair that is so hot off the design studio workshop that it is still yet to be named! Starry-eyed visitors were thrilled to meet Dix on theOBODO stand and some were even lucky enough to share a drink (or two!) with him following his participation in the sold-old WorkLife Seminar, Kitsch, Please! where he shared his experiences and opinion on the value of kitsch and unpredictable creativity in the current design climate.

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And speaking of special guests, who said they all had to be human? Purveyors of authentic, high quality designer furniture, lighting and objects including internationally admired names such as: Maruni, molo, Garsnas, Gemla, Gubi and Mud Australia, SeehoSu was one big furry ball of fun at this year’s event… and we mean that literally!

In collaboration with Geyer for The ProjectSeehoSu played host to some adorable bunny friends to promote the equally adorable Saana Armless Chair crafted by famed designer Masayuki Kurokawa for Maruni. In addition to the bunnies, the beautifully-curated stand also featured the molo cloud mast, suspended as a luminous canopy of LED cloud like pendants that gently moved with the air currents, new items from Maruni furniture designed by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison, as well as hand-picked items by Geyer for the agile workplace typology. The SeehoSu stand was certainly one of the biggest conversation pieces of the whole event, and it’s not hard to see why…

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At every Indesign event, year after year, Signature Floorconcepts continue to set a new benchmarks for wildly interactive installations and activities on their stands with a high spectacle and fun factor that visitors just can’t get enough of. This year, the brand worked collaboratively with GroupGSA to produce a multi-sensory kaleidoscope of colour, where GroupGSA combined Signature Floorconceptsdifferent collections to create a beautiful, textured element within the space, accompanied with stimulating vision and even a silent disco to encourage an interpretation on kinetic movement for The Project. Event-goers were completely mesmerised as they ‘clicked’ into their experience of this epically cool silent disco and entered a whole other (well-designed) dimension. Another one of the most Instagramed features at Sydney Indesign 2017.

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Sydney Indesign is a rare opportunity to get an up close and personal look at your favourite brands, and discover their unique personalities. Blu Dot – specialists in contemporary furnishing – was bursting with personality at their beautifully pastel stand at The Venue. The Blu Dot stand was all about expressing who they are and what they’re all about. And what they’re all about is “modern love”. This young, quirky U.S brand is all about design democracy and accessibility to living and working better – and their presence at SID17 certainly reflected their fun, approachable personality!

Launching the Cat’s Pajamas Lounge Chair (yes, we LOVE the name too!), visitors were able to cast their eyes upon the brand’s cutting-edge designs from all the right angles. We were also lucky enough to be visited by Blu Dot’s Senior Vice President, Medora Danz, who in conversation with indesign’s editors, engaged in a meaty discussion about the role of feminism in design. Danz also participated in the sold-out WorkLife Seminar ‘Hot Enough to Hashtag: A+D in the Social Media World’, where she shared her unique perspective and insight into how designers and their brands can best maneuver social media to their advantage.

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Speaking of new innovations and the key ideas that drive them, a leading international design, manufacturer and distributor of award-winning and ergonomic IT products – and a Platinum Event Sponsor of SID17 –CBS, launched their innovative new Ollin Monitor Arm, another first in monitor arm technology from CBS, as well as Lolly; an elegant personal light with integrated USB charging.

SID17 visitors stopped by theCBS stand and chatted to their team of experts about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into designing products that integrate people with technology, increase user comfort, performance and efficiency – and as a bonus, some lucky punters even walked away with their very own Ollin Monitor arm.

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Also popular in The Venue was family-owned, global solid surface powerhouse Dekton by Cosentino, who collaborated with their fellow Spanish friends at AJAR for the occasion of SID17. Showcasing their famed and sought-after Dekton portfolio –  a large-format surface that offers maximum strength thanks to Sinterized Particle Technology – the Cosentino team shared their  latest discoveries in R+D with key industry members and offered some very cool trade secrets including specification options and tips.

Melbourne-based design team AJAR – specialising in European-made furniture, joinery, lighting and homewares, their portfolio of brands all share a commitment to authentic design, made their official Sydney Indesign debut at The Venue! AJAR beautifully curated a small taste of their collection, including the launch of sofa brand Carmenes, and lighting brand Fambuena, alongside their newest addition to theAJAR suite, Zuzunaga. Visitor’s skills were put to the test on the brand’s RS#3 Wood Football Table (which indulged many friendly competitions) and awarded event-goers with a refined collaboration with their fellow Spaniards,Cosentino.

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Taking a more thematic approach to their Sydney Indesign showcase, Activelocker – offering architects, designers, builders and consumers a selection of lockers and other furniture with purpose-driven applications across the full spectrum of sectors and environments – presented ‘Activate’.

Allowing us all to keep our personal devices safe and secure, but also allowing us to charge up any flat battery at the very same time, Activelocker hid some tasty prizes inside their on-site lockers and put visitors to the test on their sleuth skills to crack the code and win! And boy, did the Sydney Indesign punters have a killer time flexing their brains to unlock that puzzle! Things got competitive and the attending designers and specifiers were better able to engage with the functionality of the Activelocker systems with a bit of fun and whimsey. 

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Masters of a state-of-the-art living experience LG celebrated SID17 with an interactive demonstration of some seriously cool life enhancing products, inspired by innovation and timeless aesthetics – specifically, the new LG SIGNATURE range. The LG stand – which featured a smart fridge, washer/dryer, television and several other ‘smart’ items – was focused on one key objective: the future of integrated technology. Through interior design, how do we better harmonise the specification of designer technologies? Here, the LG staff were keen to talk shop with attending designers and specifiers about this very issue. The tech was awe-inspiring, and visitors could not get enough.

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CFS Furniture focused on demonstrating the best-in-class capability of their workplace systems from Xchange Design, acoustic furniture, wall, ceiling and privacy products from EKOUS, casual chairs from SCAB Design and their own Elegant L whiteboards and pinboards. CFS Furniture also celebrated their SID17 debut by giving away one of their coveted eSatchels to lucky participating visitors!

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SID17 visitors were very keen to check out the new colours of Corian by CASF, a brand that has specialised in decorative surfacing materials since 1998 (including the original solid surface brand DuPont Corian). While you sat down and relaxed, you could power up your phone on their famed Corian by CASF Wireless Charging Surface, making sure your phone was Instagram-ready all day long!

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First-time exhibitor furniture, lighting and accessories supplier Marmo showcased their distinctive and recognisable pieces, produced using noble and durable materials and delivering a sense of warmth, intimacy, balance and sober luxury. The Marmo team took visitors through the intricate and considered design process of their products’ capacity to suit both domestic and commercial spaces, which many cross-sector designers were raving about in terms of the ease of searching for appropriate materials for both their residential and workplace projects alike.

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Australian manufacturer, marketer and distributor of fine surfaces polytec, celebrated the official launch of WOODMATT and MATERA at SID17: the next generation of product innovations achieved through advanced print quality and improved surface finishes, the result of an innovative manufacturing process by polytec – that is unique in Australia. We spotted many keen designers taking notes, samples and bits of application wisdom from the polytec team.

Visitors flocked to Premium Floors, who specialises in offering the widest range of products designed to provide something for every flooring project, regardless of style, preferences, or budget. The big attraction? To see the latest in laminate flooring with the launch of the Majestic range from Quick-Step! Majestic, which brings you the longest, widest and most luxurious floors in the Quick-Step collection. Event-goers were inspired by the extra-large format, natural look and unique water-resistant technology, which as they discovered is the perfect choice to create a truly luxurious interior.

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Dynamic family business and trendsetter in ventilation, sun protection and terrace coverings Renson invests heavily in innovation, always focused on a healthy and comfortable indoor environment in homes, apartments, offices and healthcare facilities. So, visitors were able to learn about their sustainability journey, as well as how best we as an industry can respond to the needs of users for issues like energy efficiency, acoustics, technology and how best-practice designers can integrate them. Renson sparked a particular dialogue around its applicability for health, aged-care and wellness spaces, where designers are currently making significant strides in breaking down the old paradigms of the sector.

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The guys at Satelight, an award-winning design studio, specialising in modern lighting, decorative lamp shades and commercial LED light fittings, wanting to light up everyone’s life, generously gave away 4 Copenhagen table lamps and 4 Jord pendant lights! All visitors had to do snap a shot of their stand and tag @satelightdesign and @indesigntheevent on Instagram to be in the running.  Talk about giving it away!

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With over 75 years of lighting expertise, Special Lights is one of the most established lighting businesses in Australia. They pride themselves on long term partnerships with leading European suppliers who have a passion for design, quality and innovation. And their activity for this year’s event was no different. SID17 marked the Australian launch of two new European brands from Special Lights: Cattaneo Lighting and Bover, alongside exclusive insights and sneak previews from the latest luminary innovations fresh from Euroluce 2017.

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Having dominated the Australian milling and marketing of timber products for more than 100 years, The Briggs Group – Briggs Veneers – is a family-owned company at the vanguard of innovative veneer design solutions. Launching their exciting new colours and textures in TrueGrain, Woodstock, Oberflex and Innato wood veneers and laminates, Briggs Veneers offered all SID17 visitors the exclusive chance to get up close and personal with their vast portfolio of products – some never before seen!

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Visitors to the Envoy stand were lucky enough to see the brand spanking new ranges from Envoy including Link designed by Ghent and Urban Islands by mmcité. Showcasing the latest design innovations expertly suited to the commercial sector, Envoy – with a focus providing designs that increase workplace success and improve employee wellbeing – was certainly not one to miss as the topic on everyone’s lips was “the future of the workplace”.

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As a leading manufacturer and supplier of quality chairs and lounges for the commercial, healthcare and hospitality sectors in Australia for over 40 years,Folioworks is rightly proud of their ultra-smart range of seating in a variety of finishes and custom upholstery. With a gallery-style installation that featured Folioworks latest designs for the A+D community, SID17 visitors were inspired by their portfolio of ultra-versatile furniture innovations. Launching the Mia Chair, Folioworks brought a new perspective to innovating a multitude of environments across workplace, retail, hospitality, education, health and aged-care and many more.

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Stocking many international brands including Pfleiderer, Duropal, Lamicolour Duropal showcased their latest colour range in high-pressure laminate and melamine, their new metallic HPL colour range as well a their MOD anti-fingerprint HPL. Visitors were taken on an educational journey to discover the vast design possibilities of laminates… we predict many creative laminate features in this year’s most progressive upcoming projects!

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Along with their exclusive partner Corradi, TWO Australia exemplifies the relentless goal of bringing to life our outdoor spaces for both residential and commercial environments. Here,TWO Australia showcased their Weatherwell range: Cyclone Rated Shutter, Z Blade Louvre, Fixed Blade, Sunlouvre Screen and Standard Shutter. Corradi in particular, launched the Maestro Pergotenda retractable & Bioclimatics louvred roof systems. Characterised by strength, endurance and a heightened degree of contemporary flair, attending specifiers were delighted to discover that they are perfectly suited to the Australian climate – a rare find for luxury, high-end specification.

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Winspear Group, national supplier of hardwood flooring products, including wall paneling, outdoor decking and parquet floors, returned to SID17 to showcase their latest and greatest! Winspear celebrated the official launch of the Natural Genius Collection – Biscuit No.1 + No.5, and Medoc – and demonstrated the possibilities for genuine and authentic hardwood floors, while emphasising the sustainability and provenance of raw materials – a growing trend that visitors discussed greatly within The Venue halls.

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