Simone LeAmon’s Melbourne Design Fair Highlights

Simone LeAmon, curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture at National Gallery of Victoria, provides her tips for what to see at the Melbourne Design Fair.

Studio Tops brings together a technical knowledge of glass, steel, and leatherwork to create sculptural and architectural furniture, lighting and objects. Founded by Melbourne artist and maker Simone Tops in 2014 the Melbourne studio creates works that are crafted to last, patina over time, and designed to be companions for life. Tops’ exquisite standing and wall lights are made with kangaroo leather, they recall the technique of using fine parchment made from animal skin for objects and manuscripts dating back to ancient times.

For Melbourne Design Fair, Dowel Jones presents works in collaboration with Ethiopian-Norwegian artist Olana Janfa. Dancing under water is a collection of chairs and tables ingeniously crafted from timber off-cuts and brilliantly painted by Janfa. A vibrant reflection of his unique journey and cultural heritage, Janfa’s collaboration with Melbourne-based design studio Dowel Jones is a meeting of identities, artistic expression and the values the collaborators hold important.

Industrial designer Jonathan Ben-Tovim designs and makes experimental lighting and furniture works that explore the intricacies of the global industrial system by recontextualising found objects. Crash Nocte is the latest iteration of the ongoing Crash series by the designer, which uses reclaimed, distorted, and refinished car panels as the basis for sculptural lighting objects. Courtesy Sophie Gannon Gallery.

Ash Allen is an industrial designer whose exploratory design practice combines machined and handmade processes to produce idiosyncratic furniture and object works that celebrate the storied history of Australian design. For Melbourne Design Fair, Allen launches his new one-of-a-kind works Meshworks Wonderland comprising iconic chair designs by Featherston, Chris Connell and Adam Goodrum, re-imagined in wire and flocked in eye-popping colours.

With a background in cabinetmaking and interior design, Jordan Fleming’s work displays its own free-form energy. Fleming’s Mirror, 2023 is emblematic of her experimental one-of-a-kind furniture and lighting designs hand built from a unique plaster and paper mix. Fleming’s objects stem from her interest in imbuing objects with emotive effects that are capable of conjuring feelings of happiness and empathy within the viewer.  Courtesy of Modern Times.

Kurunpa Kunpu / Strong Spirit is a cross-cultural design collaboration between Tanya Singer, Errol Evans and Trent Jansen, with skilful craftmanship and design development by Chris Nicholson and Mast Furniture in the realisation of high-end collectible furniture designs. Over a 3-year period Tanya, Errol and Trent have spent time in each other’s communities, learning from unique relationships with Country, family and community, and engaging with each other’s cultural practices and traditions.

Botanica Exotica by designer Eugenie Kawabata is a showcase of jewel-like vessels, inspired by the lush plant life of Melbourne’s botanical gardens. These pieces reflect the rich tapestry and intricate interplay of colours and textures found in the natural world. With this collection, we step into a world of exoticism, each piece offering a captivating glimpse into a reimagined botanical domain.

Melbourne Design Fair
18-21 May

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