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Until we MIDF again

And just like that, the MIDF has wrapped for another year. It was all over so quickly! I feel like I’ve been running/biking/tramming all over town to see what the participants in this year’s festival put forth, but it was most definitely worth it.

Personal highlights included…

the Underground x 4 exhibition at Tongue and Groove – it was a great example of how beautifully designed objects can transform a space beyond recognition!

… meeting designers such as Bonnie So and Jansen Lye and talking to them about their Pop-ups. This is This isn’t is a concept that will be on my mind for a while to come – the idea of re-purposing designed objects for other uses, rather than designing something using brand new materials.

… The Design on Toast Breakfast Series event featuring Chloe Quigley of Michi Girl fame, and pioneering brand strategist Stanley Johnson. It was a casual conversation-style forum about what effective branding has evolved into in this day and age, and it was a relaxing start to a cold July morning. Watching the sky lighten through the trapezoidal windows of BMW edge at Fed Square was a delight. (Note: I was slightly disappointed that there was no actual toast, or indeed any other breakfast foods or beverages, provided at this event. But, that’s just me.)

… and the Studio Open day, where local design studios opened their doors to allow fellow design practitioners and students in to ask questions, network, and learn about each other’s businesses. Although we may be in competition, it’s important to maintain relationships with contemporaries and to learn from each others successes, failures, and office layouts! On a side note, Studio Open participants and independent publishers Ripe Off The Press have just been confirmed as finalists in this years Telstra Business Awards, and after visiting the lovely studio of these two passionate women, one can see why they deserve such an award!

On one of my many visits to Fed Square over the course of the festival, it was sad to see some broken and vandalized plastic bubbles amongst the Index Award – Design to Improve Life exhibition. But overall, just looking at the turnout to the Melbourne Design Market and the queues of people keen to participate in Open House proves that Melbournians love their yearly dose of design festivities. I don’t know the data on 2008s festival patronage compared to previous years, but I think that MIDF 2008 has shown that Melbourne is happy to patronise events like this if they were to happen more frequently. At the very least, the Market might reconsider the design and layout of its stalls – for the benefit of shoppers and stressed-out stallholders alike!

See you next year!

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Open House part 2 – Plaza Ballroom

by Lucy Feagins

The Regent Theatre’s Plaza Ballroom in Collins st

Another ‘better late than never’ post I’m afraid! These shots are from the Regent Theatre’s Plaza Ballroom, also on show as part of the recent Open House event in Melbourne’s CBD.

The ballroom, built in 1929, is lavishly decorated in ornate Spanish Colonial style – features include an indoor fountain, curved ‘Juliet’ balconies, bronze chandeliers, highly decorative faux windows (backlit to simulate moonlight!) and ornate handpainted ceilings (pictured below). A little kitsch, but utterly breathtaking.

Incredibly, the Plaza Ballroom as it stands today is a complete restoration of the original, which was destroyed by fire in 1945.

I just discovered another lovely photo of the Ballroom, and a collection of very sneaky photos of the Open House Capitol Theatre tour on a blog called the grapevine. Read the text too – very funny!

ornate detailing with a Spanish influence

Intricate decorative patterns on the ceiling (top image) and even in the carpet! (bottom image). Apparently parquetry flooring is laid over the top of this carpet when required. Big job!

Gargoyles guard the exit

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Takeaway Thonet

by Tess McCabe

18 Chairs are captured and waiting for the final verdict, which you can help decide, by visiting the exhibition which ends on Sunday.

Should you wish to purchase a chair you can visit the Thonet Showroom 237 Napier St, Fitzroy and bid on the cheque books displayed.

Alternatively you can just enjoy the varied interpretations of this brief by 18 exciting design practitioners.
For more information on any of the designers or the project visit the website!

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To market, to market, to get To Three

To Three

By Tess McCabe

Garry Emery and emerystudio have a lot of clients, a lot of awards and a lot of stuff to say about environmental graphics.

This month, Emery studio releases a trilogy of publications (like I said, they have a lot to say) bound together in a phonebook-sized box. To Three is a collection of essays about environmental graphic design, placemaking, urban legibility, and identity. And of course there are heaps of cutting edge, exciting and thought-provoking visuals to back it up.

Garry Emery, the founder of the studio, is a household name to Australian designers (in the graphic discipline, at least). Got a fiver in your wallet right now? That’s a Garry Emery design. His work has been widely exhibited, published and awarded, and in his role as Adjunct Professor in Design at RMIT University, he has a big say in what goes on in the Design degree programs offered there. But the success of emerystudio is very much a team effort, with over 30 passionate people in Australia and overseas contributing to their exciting portfolio. To Three is a reflection of this passion and is sure to inspire similar feelings in designers from all disciplines.

Unfortunately the book launch scheduled during the design festival has been put off but never fear! To Three is available via the emerystudio website, or at Architext, Avenue Bookshop, Brunswick St Bookstore, Greville St Bookstore, and the RMIT bookshop.

To Three

To Three

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