Melbourne Design Week 2020 program launches

Melbourne Design Week, Australia’s leading annual international design event, today revealed the full program for its largest festival to date. Presented by Creative Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria, the festival returns for its fourth consecutive year with more than 300 events across 11 days exploring the theme ‘How Can Design Shape Life?’

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said: ‘From tackling e-waste to creating healthy cities and driving sustainability, design has the capacity to improve the way we live and address the challenges of our times. This year’s action-packed program extends across greater Melbourne, and to Geelong, celebrating design in all its facets and shining a light on the designers who are shaping our lives – now and in the future.’

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: “Melbourne Design Week provides an exceptional opportunity for audiences to experience a diverse selection of keynote lectures, exhibitions and talks by the who’s who of the local, national and international design sector. This celebration of innovation and ideas showcases the best in global design practice in the design capital of Australia.”

Melbourne Design Week responds to a growing appetite for meaningful engagement with the design industry, providing a platform for designers and artists to express, question, propose and test ideas. The 2020 festival poses the question ‘How Can Design Shape Life?’ through five thematic pillars – Design Cultures, Waste, Healthy Cities, Waterfront, and Design Evolution.

Life is shaped by contexts, beliefs, backgrounds and ideas that bring people together. How does design shape, and how is it shaped by, the multitude of cultures that exist in the world?

Francis Kéré: Architecture Shapes Life – Internationally acclaimed architect Francis Kéré delves into his journey and shares his vision for how architecture that is collaboratively realised, rooted in traditional knowledge and specific to its context will contribute to a positive and dynamic future for Africa. Presented by NGV with Architecture Foundation Australia and the Futuna Lecture Series.

Atmosphere: A Revival – A sauna installation that promotes the revival of bathing culture on the Birrarung (Yarra River). Presented by Studio Rain.

Take the Cake – This exhibition showcases the 100 iconic cake designs made famous by the Australian Women’s Weekly birthday cake book. Presented by NGV and Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Kultur-All Makaan – A three day pop-up mobile home of art and culture in Bendigo, celebrating diverse local communities. Named after a common northern European word for culture (kultur) and a Persian and African word for dwelling (Makaan) Kultur-All Makaan presents a cultural ideal of an arts institution. Presented by Punctum Inc. and Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.

Melbourne Design Week continues its focus on the issue of waste by exploring how design can alleviate the problem of e-waste – phones, toys, electronics, lighting – or anything with a battery or a wire.

E-Waste Challenge Live Pitch Final, Victorian Design Challenge 2020 – Creative Victoria and NGV are offering $25,000 in prizes for the best design idea addressing the problem of e-waste. A challenge jury, chaired by Craig Reucassel from the ABC’s War on Waste, will review design solutions to tackle the 40 million tons of e-waste produced globally every year. Presented by NGV.

Bas van Abel: Dark Matter – The mobile phone is a symbol of instant connectivity, but it’s clear that we’ve lost any connection with the source of how it is made, who made it, where it comes from, and the social and environmental consequences of the production process. Fairphone aims to surface the dark matter of our production systems and make it human again. This keynote lecture by Fairphone founder Bas van Abel is a unique chance to think about the ways that design-led business can transform the environment and economy. Presented by NGV, EWaste Watch Institute and Design Institute of Australia.

Melbourne 2030 – Transforming From A Consumer To A Producer – An investigation into how it is possible to transform Greater Melbourne from a consumer to a producer by the year 2030. Presented by Finding Infinity.

Design is increasingly redressing the problems of urbanisation and proposing ways to improve health for humans, animals, plants and beyond. Melbourne Design Week examines the effects of increasing urbanisation and how we can foster healthy cities.

A Royal Commission into the State of Australian Cities – Part theatre, part panel discussion, this hypothetical Royal Commission delves into the most pressing issues facing the planning of our cities. Presented by Oculus.

Empathy: A Design Challenge Exhibition – The Gordon TAFE Gallery in Geelong presents works by design students from across Victoria addressing the importance of empathy in the initial design process.

Transformative Landscapes: Reshaping the City that Shapes Us – In this symposium, design and health experts explore the role of landscape architecture, urban design and planning in making healthful urban environments. Presented by Foreground.

MTalks: Density, Public Space and Happiness – Design studio NH Architecture hosts a panel discussion of the role and future of public facilities in urban developments. Presented by MPavilion.

DESIGN EVOLUTION Explore a new wave of design thinking, from speculative structures, systems and materials, to breakthrough approaches to practice, urban resilience and social impact.

Ellen Broad, Artificial Intelligence: Made By Humans Telstra Creativity and Innovation Keynote – AI influences our lives whether we notice it or not. But how impartial are these decisions and where does the ‘intelligence’ come from? Ellen Broad demystifies data, machine learning and information processing to reveal the very human intelligence driving AI. Presented by Telstra and NGV.

Australian Furniture Design Award 2020 Exhibition – Award finalists will be exhibited in the Stylecraft Melbourne showroom during Melbourne Design Week. Presented by NGV and Stylecraft.

Aurum – A moving-image installation that examines the complex relationship of humans with gold, and its power to transform societies. Presented by Georgia Nowak and Eugene Perepletchikov.

Vores Vævninger: Our Weavings – A tactile textile exhibition showcasing the weaving of blind and visually impaired weavers. Presented by Tove Papp Lindkvist in collaboration with the weavers from the Danish Institute for the Blind and Partially Sighted.

Open House Melbourne and Melbourne Design Week will explore the role that design plays in framing our relationship with water with a program of tours, walks, rides, talks and special events championing Victoria’s rivers, bays and oceans.

Deep Dive: Sea Urchin Snorkel Tour – Tour Port Phillip Bay with Dr Pirjo Haikola and witness the exploding population of sea urchins living below the surface. Presented by Open House Melbourne.

The Western Treatment Plant Tour – Much more than a ‘poo farm’, the Western Treatment plant is a place of historic, environmental and cultural significance. Presented by Open House Melbourne and Melbourne Water.

I’m on a (Port of Melbourne) Boat! – Step aboard and see Australia’s busiest port from a whole new angle. Presented by Open House Melbourne and Port of Melbourne.

COLLECTIBLE DESIGN Many of Australia’s leading practitioners are experimenting with new materials, geometry, digital design, fabrication and concepts to shape contemporary design. Lighting, furniture, objects, fashion, architecture, textiles and contemporary jewellery will feature in exhibitions focusing on collectible design.

Designwork 04: Danielle Brustman – The fourth exhibition in an ongoing series dedicated to presenting the best contemporary Australian design. This solo exhibition of new works by Melbourne-based designer Danielle Brustman encompasses interior, furniture, lighting and object design. Presented by Sophie Gannon Gallery.

A&A: Exquisite Corpse/Cadavre Exquis – The debut exhibition from A&A, industrial designer Adam Goodrum and straw marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneur, presents three new and unique design pieces. Presented by Tolarno Galleries.

Life and Death – Urns made from soil, screens made from urine fed bacteria, chandeliers made from cracked phone screens and sending artworks into space – this exhibition presents projects by Australian creative practitioners exploring life and death. Presented by Friends and Associates.

Monolith – A furniture exhibition that reflects on how mass production in city buildings shapes our lives. Presented by James Howe.

Partu (Skin) by Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen – A collaboration between remote cattle-station saddler Johnny Nargoodah and conceptual object designer Trent Jansen is an experiment in avant-garde furniture design working with animal skins. Presented by Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert and Arc One.


Returning for its sixth year from 13-15 March, with publishers, artists, designers and writers from around the globe converging on the NGV for a huge program. Pirate Radio will broadcast live from the NGV’s St Kilda Road Forecourt; Sticky Institute returns with the Australian Zine Showcase; NGV International hosts the debut of a children’s publishing workshop space run by Kids Own Publishing; and the

Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow will present The New Normal: Design in the Age of Global Computation, a half-day symposium with international speakers including speculative architect and film director Liam Young and a debut Australian lecture by Amsterdam-based design/art collective Metahaven.

As part of the Melbourne Art Book Fair, the NGV will announce the winner of The Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing. An initiative of the NGV recognising outstanding publishing practice that explores art, design, architecture and contemporary culture, the prize will award $15,000 AUD to an overall winner with up to five finalists each receiving $1,000 AUD. The NGV gratefully acknowledges the Cornish family for their support of The Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing.

Melbourne Design Week | 12-22 March 2020 |

Melbourne Art Book Fair | 13-15 March 2020 |

Melbourne Design Week and the Victorian Design Challenge are initiatives of the Victorian Government. The NGV Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture is generously supported by The Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation. Please note: Melbourne Design Week dates and venues are subject to change.

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