10 Projects We Loved from the 2023 Melbourne Design Week

If anyone here is in the business of bringing journalists to Australia for Melbourne Design Week, please allow this to be us throwing our official hat in the ring. Because there’s no other design fair right now that’s both so exciting and yet that we feel so removed from, having never even set foot on the continent. The 10 projects we’re featuring here today absolutely crackle with energy and are sensitive about material reuse in a way we hope to see replicated from here on out in other design fairs; we’d love nothing more than to have seen them in person. But we’ll settle for this: choosing the best of the best, and sending them our digital love.

Versa by Tom Fereday & Charlie White

In their collaborative exhibition at the Meat Market Stables, Tom Fereday and Charlie White created a series of works that explored the ideas of transforming end-of-life materials and challenging perceived value. “With a self-imposed constraint to make only one design gesture each per room, works have been conceived as the transformation of a material into an interior element — seat, table, light, ceiling, wall, and floor — and then designed to express a sensory quality — dark, light, soft, warm, sharp and hard.” Highlights included White’s Brutalist-inspired hinged folding screens made from foam waste blocks and Fereday’s recycled aluminum series: a chair, lounge and coffee table cast entirely from locally-sourced recycled aluminum machine waste. 

Linear by Coco Flip

The Melbourne-based design studio Coco Flip launched Linear, a series of pleated linen and reclaimed timber lights that aim to place traditional pleating in a contemporary context as well as highlight the history and legacy of Specialty Pleaters, the last, almost century-old, pleating factory in Melbourne. Almost Japanese in their form, the pieces explore various systems of clamping, hanging, and pinning pleats to create lighting sculptures.

Trade Between by Do Works

For Trade Between, Do Works brought together four emerging designers “who each create furniture that slips from the mundane to the metaphysical, challenging the assumptions of use… Trade Between draws inspiration from Suzanne Delehanty’s 1977 essay “Furniture of Another Order,” which, taken from the exhibition Improbable Furniture of the same year, advocates for the rethinking of furniture as art.” Works included Dalton Stewart’s Basalt Shelf, a Timber Veneer Lounge Chair by Shalini Rautela, a coffee table with adjustable candlestick by Angus Grant, and Annie Paxton’s delicate, mesh-wrapped Form IV cabinet. Photos by Pier Carthew

Jordan Fleming at Modern Times

Obsessed with these chromed aluminum and plaster Looking at me Looking at you mirrors by designer Jordan Fleming, who showed with Modern Times at the Melbourne Design Fair. “Fleming’s surreal semi-human sculptures play at the gaucheness of meeting a stranger’s eye. If someone is looking at you, it shows social interest or a possible desire to communicate, but of course you cannot know if someone is looking unless you, in turn, attempt to meet their gaze. At first approach, the chrome aluminum mirrors’ reflection is alien and abstracted, but upon closing in, becomes intimate as each ‘face’ is adorned with a roughhewn sculpting plaster addition, gesturing to a flick of hair, a resting hand.”

Oko Olo

Sydney-based Oko Olo presented functional sculptures at the intersection of “found” and “formed” — a polished stainless-steel tabletop anchored by a reclaimed river rock, another sprouting legs sheathed in vegetable sponge gourds (aka loofahs), a salvaged blue gum log–turned–side table. “This collection moves away from traditional modes of furniture design and making, and leans into the idea of re-use, towards limiting waste and landfill, and towards a mindful archaeology of materials and what they might become.”

The Silo Project, curated by Josee Vesely-Manning

Curated by Josee Vesely-Manning, this group exhibition was housed in six former grain silos in Melbourne, with works responding to the architectural quirks of the unique site. “All of the works are informed and specific to the historic site whilst also presenting new and experimental design strategies and future proposition. In this sense, the abandoned site provides an exit or dream space and an inversion of the meaning of silo as verb, where rather than working in isolation, collectivity and creative fluidity is implicit. There is a focus on lighting and object design but also an interest in more ephemeral and conceptual design practices.” Contributors include: Ancher Architecture Office, Ashisha Cunningham, Bel Williams, Billie Civello, Billy Horn, Bolaji Teniola, Brody Xarhakos, Caeylen Fenelon-Norris, Corey Thomas, Darcy Jones, Danielle Brustman, Edward Linacre, Elliot Bastianon, FOMU Design, Josee Vesely-Manning, Kiki Ando, Marlo Lyda, Marta Figueiredo, Meagan Streader, Mikhail Savin Rodrick, Naomi Clayton, Pascale Gomes- McNabb, Simon Ancher, and Volker Haug.

Snelling Studio

Snelling Studio were the only New Zealand studio invited to show at the Melbourne Design fair, and they showed their Lens Collection, which we previewed last summer. For this series, the shape of a body in yoga was translated into charcoal and paper using blind contour drawing, and these gestures form the basis of Lens’ curved silhouettes. Photos by Pier Carthew

C. Gallery

C. Gallery’s group show featured eight artists designers working in disparate mediums, with an emphasis on materiality and experimentation. The artist Ben Mazey presented a console and wall-mounted sculpture that expanded the definition of ceramic tile, as well as a collection of candle sconces and wall-mounted vases. Swedish artist Jenny Nordberg created a group of silvered mirrors and Spanish sculptor Jose Manuel Castro Lopez presented two works from his Skin of the Stone series in granite, the latest in his 30-year exploration of the material which he forages from the mountains surrounding his home and studio.

Oigall Projects

After having recently renovated a domestic space called OIGÅLL PROJECTS Upstairs, the Fitzroy-based showroom and gallery presented the work of 10 Australian-based designers, contextualized within a livable interior. “These forms and objects are created with the intention to interact with hands and bodies, with light and space, with rituals and needs that reflect their inception. Let them be fussed over, touched and tried, wiped down, shuffled around and switched on and off at the end of a day.” Participating designers include Volker Haug, denHolm, Brud Studia, BMDO, Olivia Bossy and more. 


The Vitrine exhibition, curated by creative director Marsha Golemac, invited artists to reflect upon the significance of objects and how they shape and reflect our identity; some of our favorites included brass, bronze and marble floor light by Peter D. Cole, a glazed ceramic sculpture by Isabelle Mackay, and vintage glass and Bakelite lamps by Anna Varendorff. Photos by Annika Kafcaloudis