Arts / Canberra leads in design

Robert Foster’s legendary jugs

“DESIGN is in our city’s DNA”, Chief Minister Andrew Barr told the crowd assembled in the Monaro Mall’s new “Lifestyle Precinct” yesterday (November 5) at the official launch of “Design Canberra 2017”.

Andrew Barr opening the program.

Surrounded by beautifully crafted objects by ACT designers, including the now legendary jug by the late Robert Foster, Mr Barr talked up the idea of Canberra as a global city of destination.

“As our city emerges into its second century it is going through a change that’s design-led,” he said.

While praising the “desire and passion” of designers, he also laid down a challenge to them, noting that while human beings are usually less than two metres tall, designs are often made for people not four metres tall.

Rachel Coghlan, director of Craft ACT, which hosts DESIGN Canberra, thanked the ACT government for now contributing $100,000 each year, describing the event as “the ACT’s fast as growing festival”, with at least 200 events on show this year.

An experimental and ambitious experimental event, she said, it had become Craft ACT’s primary annual outreach project, and building awareness amongst new markets and long-term benefits for all Canberrans.

Untitled mosaic by Frank Hinder

Canberra was a uniquely creative city, Coghlan said, and always had been, as could be seen in the Monaro Mall itself, originally opened in 1963 and featuring an original mosaic ceiling by Frank Hinder at the entrance to David Jones.

Exhibition of fine design

On hand to open the focal exhibitions of fine design now open to the public on the first floor of the Mall, was Frances Shannon, deputy vice chancellor of research at the University of Canberra.

“Design is everywhere,” she said, and her university, one of DESIGN Canberra’s strongest supporters, was at the forefront when it came to integrating the study of design with the town itself. She praised the decision to create a focus on women in design during the 2017 event.

Looking around her at fine crafted implements, jewellery and nitrates, Prof Shannon said she wished she could have some of them.

No problem Coghlan quickly cut in – everything on show was for sale.

Zoe Brand ‘Sell Out’ pendant. Powder-coated aluminium, cord

As well, the entire Canberra community was invited to the DESIGN Canberra opening party at the Fitters’ Workshop, Kingston this Friday, where the large disc pendant designed by by Zoe Brand as the event’s key image would be auctioned. “Dark Mofo” lighting designer House of Vnholy will transform the historic Fitters’ after dark.

DESIGN Canberra opening party, Fitters Workshop, Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, 8pm Friday, November 10, tickets at the door, which include first wine, beer or soft drink free.

DESIGN Canberra, until November 26, various locations in the ACT, details of all events and ticketing at

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