The Smart works symposium was held on March 30, 31 and April 1, 2007.
Follow the link from the symposium speakers for video documetation of the talks from the symposium (requires flash plugin).
Peter Day (UK)
The Heartbeat Economy: surviving in a global world
In 2005 broadcaster Peter Day produced a radio series looking at a future where global economic powers will include Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs). For Smart works, he follows up this theme to consider the future for design and the handmade. Peter Day has presented In Business for the BBC since 1988, and Global Business on the BBC World Service every weekend. He is part of a team ‘making business programmes for listeners who did not realise they were interested in business at all.’ The Times has described In Business as ‘the best business-related programme on TV or radio’. Photo: courtesy Peter Day, BBC.
Dr Filippo Chiesa (Italy)
Italian crafts industries face global competition
Italian design is supported by strong crafts-based industries – industries that are facing global competition. Dr Filippo Chiesa will talk about his research in the region around Turin looking at ‘problems of international competition on the Italian [regional crafts industries] clusters; and … on the different ways that Italian companies and policy makers are following to solve this problem.’ His work includes studying the needs of workers (finance, education, commercial network) and trying to set up policies to push this sector to grow and ‘become a solid, competitive and international industry or network, of strong craftsmen.’ Dr Chiesa studied economics in Turin, Paris and Oxford, with specialisation in the internationalisation of the Italian clusters in transition countries, and now works for the research company STEP. He has also worked for CIRPET, a Research Centre on Emerging and Transition Countries, based at the University of Turin.
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins (NZ)
New Zealand Design and the secret history of Middle Earth
An overview of some of the issues and events that shape ‘design and the handmade’ in New Zealand. Currently Director of the Hawke's Bay Museum & Art Gallery, Lloyd Jenkins is one of New Zealand’s most highly respected design writers. He specialises in ‘restoring to prominence overlooked practitioners of the arts, architecture and design who contributed enormously to the creation of contemporary New Zealand culture. He is well known through his design and architecture columns in The New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Listener, Home & Entertaining and journals and as the face of TVNZ’s The Big Art Trip. He is a curator of exhibitions...’. TVNZ made a documentary series based on his publication, At Home: a century of New Zealand Design, which won the Montana Book Award in the non-fiction & history category in 2005. From information supplied courtesy MF Films, photo: Lisa Morrison.
Catrina Vignando (AUS)
The role of Australian contemporary craft and design within a paradigm of creative industries
Catrina Vignando is the General Manager of Craft Australia, the national peak body advocating for Australian contemporary craft and design. She has managed the restructure of the organisation including establishing its role as a portal to the Australian craft and design sector through the Craft Australia website www.craftaustralia.com.au. Vignando's 18 year professional career in the art sector includes managing art organisations such as Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre and Megalo Access Arts; curatorial and freelance consultancies; advocating for the sector on the boards of art and advisory companies such as CREATE Australia, the Innovation and Business Skills Council of Australia, IBSA, and the National Visual Arts and Craft Network, NVACN. She is currently the chairperson of the Australian Craft-Design Organisations, ACDO.
Professor Xing Ruan
Ephemeral China/Handmade China
The current frenzy of change in China is represented by the explosion of activity in buildings, urban development and social change. I will also discuss the other, not so visible China, using the term ‘handmade’ metaphorically: as a kind of mentality towards life and mortality, not necessarily just a Chinese specificity.’ Xing Ruan was born and educated in China, and has lived in both New Zealand and Australia. His research into the imaginings of modernity, and new architecture in China both by young Chinese architects and those from the West working in China, has resonance for designers interested in China’s rapid manufacturing developments. He is Professor of Architecture, and Chair of Architecture Discipline Group at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He has published on architecture and anthropology, architectural education, China’s modern and contemporary architecture and is the author of New China Architecture (Periplus/Tuttle, 2006), and Allegorical Architecture (University of Hawai’i Press, 2006). He is co-editor, with Ronald Knapp, of the book series Spatial Habitus: Making and Meaning in Asia’s Architecture, published by the University of Hawai‘i Press.
Professor Kerstin Wickman
Small is beautiful:
Scandinavian design is not what it used to be: new directions…
From her considerable experience in teaching and writing about design and the crafts, Kerstin Wickman will consider the links – and myths – between materials, skills and cultural identity and design and industry in the Nordic countries. She will also discuss the future of crafts-based industries in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, and how designers, makers and industries are responding to issues of global manufacturing. Kerstin Wickman was most recently professor in design history at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Sweden. She was co-curator, with Widar Halén, for the exhibition and book Scandinavian design beyond the myth: 50 years of design from the Nordic countries, Stockholm, 2003. From 1973–99 she was design editor at Form, the magazine of Swedish Society of Crafts and Design (Svensk Form).
Rod Bamford: ceramics, NSW
Lost in translation: designed and made across cultures
‘Compromise … can lead to a fresh solution.’
Rod Bamford aims to combine his interests in art, design and industry to make tableware for contemporary Australian food. Since 1993 he has worked with Janine Brody, at their Cone Nine Designstudio on the NSW Central Coast.
In 1998 Stefano Manfredi and Julie Manfredi-Hughes approached Bamford to help design a suite of contemporary coffee cups and also a range of tableware for their Sydney restaurant, Bel Mondo. Bamford made prototypes by hand and in digital format and the Manfredis took the project to first, the Royal Thai Porcelain factory and later Monno Ceramic Industries Limited, in Bangladesh.
In 2005 Bamford was awarded an Australia Council grant to develop industrial production techniques to make his own limited edition production ware.
Jonathan Baskett: glass, ACT
Glass, design in Australia, making in Mexico and beyond
‘Working on trust and professional communication …’
Jonathan Baskett, based in Canberra, is known for his ranges of multi-coloured hand-blown glass tableware. A skilled glassblower, he has chosen to license most of his designs for production in other countries. He began making glassware in Sydney in 1999, while starting discussions with Salviati in Italy, Rosenthal in Germany and Nouvel Studio in Mexico. Baskett first licensed his glassware designs to Nouvel Studio in 2001 and is currently researching links with industry in Europe. Baskett uses computers for digital rendering of his designs, but always starts by ‘scribbling’ and drawing. He makes clay models of his forms, and often calls on skilled colleagues to make prototypes in glass, clay or metal.
Miranda Brown: fashion & textiles, NZ
Vision and values: keeping the handmade alive
‘Balance between inspiration and sustainability …’
After obtaining a degree in Consumer and Applied Sciences, Miranda Brown next became interested in textiles. She specialises in the shibori dyeing process, often with New Zealand wool, working from her studio in Henderson, near Auckland, NZ. In 2002 Brown worked as a costumier with Ngila Dickson, the costume designer for Peter Jackson’s film Return of the kingin the Lord of the rings trilogy.Shelaunched her own fashion label at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2002. ‘Conscious cloth’ is her by-line, representing an important balance between inspiration and sustainability. She hand dyes her shibori pieces with the help of a full-time dyer. She employs a full-time pattern cutter and up to 15 contractors: machinists, cutters and printers.
Caravana: Cathy Braid and Kirsten Ainsworth: NSW/Pakistan
Fashion: working with women’s groups in Pakistan
‘Women who were silent transformed into strong characters.’
Cathy Braid and Kirsten Ainsworth grew up in NSW, and moved to north-western Pakistan in 2003. The following year they launched Caravana –sometimes referred to as ‘a label with a conscience’. These luxury garments for the Western market derive their unique handcrafted character from the traditional skills of Pakistani women. Braid and Ainsworth’s shared vision in establishing the Caravana label was to empower these talented women through employment. From a small start, the two have worked with local organisations to set up a network of ten centres. The local environment provides strong design inspiration and each item carries the personal imprint of both designer and maker.
Georgia Chapman (Vixen Australia): fashion & textiles, Vic
Designing and producing original fabrics: changing technologies
‘We can … inspire a narrative, an imaginative reverie.’
Georgia Chapman co-founded the fashion label Vixen Australia in Melbourne in 1993. Over 15 years Chapman has built up the brand from accessories and sarongs to include two major fashion collections per year. She combines her passion for designing original handcrafted textiles with their use in a limited production fashion range. Chapman’s design process includes experimenting with layering textures, colours and patterns using techniques like dyeing, over-dyeing, hand printing, etching and embellishing. Chapman has always been committed to hand production but now outsources printing and construction with digital printing opening up new possibilities. A new homewares range now wholesales throughout Australia. The Vixen flagship store opened in Fitzroy, Melbourne in March 2007.
John Croucher (Gaffer Coloured Glass): NZ
From artist to industry: making glass for artists
‘It must be possible to make glass from scratch.’
Glass artists John Croucher and John Leggott established Giovanni Glass as a glassblowing studio in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1990. They realised that glass artists need easily- available coloured glass for their work, and decided to manufacture the material itself, incorporating Gaffer Coloured Glass Ltd in 1993. Gaffer Glass quickly became known for its range of transparent and opal glasses for glassblowing – supplied as colour rods, chips and powders. Research with artist Ann Robinson led to the development of coloured lead crystal glass for casting. Gaffer now employs about 12 people in its Morningside factory in Auckland, NZ, and also has distributors in Australia, Japan, UK and USA.
Janet DeBoos: ceramics, ACT
Design meaning making - Making meaning design
The priority that we give to different aspects of production will determine outcomes. These priorities can be (almost inevitably will be) altered by engagement with industry. I will examine changing priorities with respect to my experiences and attempts to make some judgment about their respective values.
‘I now know that I am thrilled by repetition.’
Canberra-based Janet DeBoos is known for her fine handmade porcelain vessels. In recent years, she has had the opportunity to work with ceramic industries to design versions of her handmade groups for production. The initial project was with a Milan-based company, Paola C, in Italy in 2002. Since then DeBoos has been invited to develop a number of designs at the Huaguang Company’s bone china design group in Zibo, China. They work from her drawings and also her handmade prototypes. DeBoos plans to continue her research by designing models to be made by the Rapid Prototype Unit at the Australian National University School of Art. These will be used for production in China, and colleagues and graduates will be involved in the experience.
Rebecca Eggleston: Designing Futures project, WA
Designs for a viable local industry
‘A balance between craftsperson and entrepreneur …’
Rebecca Eggleston is Industry Development Manager at FORM Contemporary Craft and Design, in Perth, and has worked with colleagues to develop an innovative training model supported by academic research. The Designing Futures project was initiated by FORM to build the capacity of the craft and design sector and the viability of local practices. This challenge is being addressed through mentoring, encouraging collaboration and stronger industry networks, and access to expert advice to help designers develop creative and business skills. Two Western Australian woodworkers, Chris Robins and Malcolm Harris, who have participated in and contributed to this program are represented in the Smart Works exhibition, showcasing products that employ their craft expertise in new ways.
Ernabella Arts Inc: rugs and ceramics, SA
One of the longest-running Indigenous art centres in Australia, Ernabella Arts celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998. Ernabella artists are well known for their batiks, screenprinted textiles, wooden dishes, rugs and ceramics.
Pamille Berg: Indigenous artists and project-specific interior design for rug commissions
Director of Pamille Berg Consultants, Pty Ltd, Berg has a long experience in commissioning craftspeople, designers and artists to make works for public buildings. A project co-ordinated by Pamille Berg translates batik designs into rugs manufactured in China through the companies Korda Bros and Tai Ping.
Geoff Crispin: Towards Sustainability: letting go and the development of ownership
Geoff Crispin is a potter from Whiteman Creek, Northern Rivers, NSW, who has worked over many years in countries from Africa to South East Asia, assisting small industry projects towards developing sustainable livelihoods. In 2005-2006, he was employed to advise Ernabella Arts on the sustainable development of ceramics production in the recently established ceramics workshop.
Robert Foster (F!NK and Co): metal, ACT
An organic process: the nexus between handmade and industry
‘You get back what you put in.’
Silversmith Robert Foster set up F!NK and Co in 1994, joined by partner Gretel Harrison in 1997. Foster wanted a business that would support his one-off handmade works, starting with production of his now well-known aluminium F!NK water jug. From the outset, F!NK was envisaged as a company of designers and many acknowledge Foster’s generosity and enthusiasm in providing them with a start. He insists on a close connection to the tooling part of the process to ‘maintain the sensitivity and integrity of the design’. F!NK objects are now sold extensively in Australia and overseas. Increased demand for the F!NK water jug led Foster to explore offshore manufacturing, and he now has jug forms made in China, mostly for assembly in Australia.
Jon Goulder: furniture, WA
The STAK stool story: maker to manufacture
‘The language of making needs no interpreter.’
Jon Goulder has a reputation for making elegant and innovative furniture, often developed around the use of plywood forms. He established his own studio in Gerringong, NSW, in 2000 and is currently working for the Designing Futures project in WA. Goulder believes in the value of having a strong skills base, making his own prototypes. A new direction is the upholstered fibreglass Calypso lounge, 2007. He aims to develop a viable business where much of his work, like the STAK stool, can be produced and distributed by others. His Leda seat, for example, is currently made by Woodmark International in Sydney. Goulder is also exploring opportunities for manufacturing some items in other countries, and has most recently been working with a factory in China.
Marc Harrison (Husque Pty Ltd):Qld
From waste to want? Sustainable design: recycled materials, macadamia shell
‘Husque … a unique manufacturing identity.’
Marc Harrison has a broad practice, and a ‘resource-based design ethic’ of using existing materials. He is best known for his innovative Husque bowls, made with recycled macadamia shells. New Zealand-born, Harrison set up his business, ANTworks, in Brisbane in 1993. In 2000 he received funding from Arts Queensland to explore the impact that an artist-designer could make in a manufacturing environment. He made the original Husque formula in 2000 then set up Husque Pty Ltd with Paul Fairweather in 2003. The first form was hand sculpted; the next were moulded; and Harrison now works with several manufacturers. He uses rapid prototyping technology for new designs and continues to research his materials, focusing on a plant-based polymer resin to use as a binder for injection-moulding.
Jill Kinnear: textiles, Qld
Design, diversity and digital printing: the journey of a textile practice from beginnings to baggage X-rays
‘Emigration and textiles have defined my life.’
Since moving from Scotland to Australia in 1989, Jill Kinnear has responded to her experiences as a Scottish-Australian – both as an artist making large public art works, and as a textile designer and maker. In 2005, based in Toowoomba, Kinnear began to make printed textiles that focus on the experience of emigration. Using her own cultural textile heritage she made metal structures of tartan and paisley patterns and passed them through the baggage X-ray machine at Brisbane International Airport. From the resulting digital images, she has structured a textile collection which is physically transformed by the process of modern day travel. From 2006 Sydney textile design studio Longina Phillips has digitally printed these patterns onto silk fabrics. Kinnear describes the process as richly rewarding. She has acquired new skills, experienced new processes, and formed new collaborative relationships.
Alexander Lotersztain: design, Qld
Working between global manufacturing and encouraging village industries
'Design is meant to improve people's ways of life.'
A commitment to travel and a decentralised studio influence Lotersztain's designs and where they are made. Born in Argentina, he moved to Australia in
1998 and is now based in Brisbane. Lotersztain works globally, designing lighting, indoor and outdoor furniture, objects and interiors. He gained early practical experience in making objects and in developing prototypes for his designs. However his primary interest in the handmade has been through encouraging those who do it best. As well as working with major design companies, he is committed to collaborating with people who have traditional crafts skills and who need new products to ensure sustainability. Lotersztain works with the InAfrica Foundation and believes in the role that ethical design can play in identifying and preserving skills, while bringing income and self-esteem.
Nick Mount: glass, SA
Glass, one-off and production; solo workshops and access studios
‘The future is in making best use of existing facilities.’
From the late 1970s, in workshops in Victoria and South Australia, Nick and Pauline Mount operated as manufacturers of hand blown production glass, working with both employees and trainees. One of Australia’s most experienced glassblowers, Mount now concentrates on making exhibition pieces such as his series of ‘Scent bottles’. He believes the future is in making best use of existing facilities like the glass workshop at JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design, which he used to manage. He hires skilled blowers and leases time in the workshop, later assembling his pieces in his home studio in Adelaide. Mount also maintains an interest in production – such as a wine decanter commissioned for the Universal Wine Bar in Adelaide in the mid-1990s.
Stephen Ormandy (Dinosaur Designs): resinhomewares/jewellery, NSW
Handmade in a global marketplace
The qualities of the handmade have been central to the work of Dinosaur Designs since it was established in Sydney by Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy and Liane Rossler in 1985. In 1986 the three began producing experimental resin jewellery. Dinosaur Designs steadfastly continues to produce its now extensive range of homewares and jewellery in-house. The company manages its own stores in Sydney, Melbourne and New York and distributes to selected retailers around the world. Casting in resin allows the creation of multiple pieces while retaining the hand-modelled feel of the original prototypes. Many of the casting techniques can only be done by hand. Working directly with dozens of creative assistants in-house allows Dinosaur Designs to achieve a form of hand production that offers a successful alternative to conventional manufacturing.
Gilbert Riedelbauch: metal/plastic, ACT
The lure of new technologies
New technologies do open new doors, but the room behind these doors might be rather small. I will explore the advantages and threats… and focus on what it is that makes me continue engaging with them, the effects they have on a contemporary craft practice and the struggle to distil relevant issues into meaningful education of practitioners.
Swiss-born German, Gilbert Riedelbauch, has been based in Canberra since 1992. He identifies himself as a craftsman and silversmith, and works with computer-aided design (CAD) and rapid prototyping technologies to extend the scope of his work. The objects Riedelbauch makes are not necessarily destined for production.
He uses manufacturing technologies at the Australian National University School of Art, where he teaches, to make elements that cannot be made in other ways. He designs objects as potential prototypes for the lost-wax casting process, and adds handmade attachments. He likes the interaction between traditional silversmithing techniques and rapid prototyping. To him, the virtual 3D space of the CAD program feels like an extension to his workshop and informs all aspects of his creative processes.
Oliver Smith: metalwork, NSW
The best of craft and industry: developing a multi-layered silversmithing and design practice
‘We researched by actually doing it.’
Oliver Smith is a skilled silversmith, based in Canberra. He has a particular interest in putting his one-off items of silver cutlery into production in stainless steel. In 2003 and 2005 Smith received grants to help him develop his ‘Generation’ series of tableware, working with industries in Sydney. Smith values the two-way benefits of collaboration with industry, and applies what he learns to his next designs. His plans for the future involve exploring different materials, such as cast iron or recyclable plastics. Other collaborations include the Bell project for the Australiana Fund, and the Banquet project. He looks for opportunities where he can unite his skills with the strengths of another process, material or individual.
Studio Hacienda: Blanche Tilden and Phoebe Porter: Jewellery, Vic
Industry as inspiration: making, mentorship, collaboration
‘Making jewellery that means something …’
Phoebe Porter and Blanche Tilden are both graduates from the ANU School of Art, Canberra and established Studio Hacienda in Melbourne in 2005. Both are curious about what attracts people to their work. Tilden’s inspiration comes from the industrial age and its mass production techniques. Porter’s work experiences have fuelled her ability to develop tools and processes. They are able to make some of their own tools and also use specialist industries for making multiples of their prototyped components. Both have also experienced the value of mentorship – Tilden with Susan Cohn, and Porter with Tilden. In the studio each continues their own individual practice. However, Tilden’s experience, for example, has broadened Porter’s understanding of serial production, while Porter’s computer-aided drawing skills have introduced Tilden to the benefits of digital technologies.
David Trubridge: furniture and lighting, NZ
The hand that guides the mouse
Craft knowledge and computer design: both are equally essential in my own prototyping and manufacturing operation for both home and export.
‘Not the object itself but its message …’
David Trubridge began making furniture after graduating as a naval architect in England in 1972. He now lives in Havelock North, New Zealand, working from a home studio, and also at Cicada Works – a group of related businesses in the old Whakatu meatworks. Trubridge is concerned about sustainability, and his practice is based on a deep knowledge of materials, gained through decades of handmaking. After some years of contracting out aspects of production, he now manufactures his works himself, using CNC (computer numerical control) technology. As well, Trubridge has licensed some European manufacturers (including Cappellini and Boffi in Italy) to produce other designs. Cicada Studios is a mentoring and employment design incubator for young designers. The next goal is to establish a whole new ecodesigned Cicada in Hawkes Bay, including a manufacturing facility that would make it a centre for international design production.
Brian Tunks (Bison Australia): ceramics, ACT
Ceramic tableware: local employment; global market
Exploring the value of media in marketing and controlling margins
‘A successful business, almost by mistake …’
Brian Tunks established Bison Australia in 1997 to make a wide range of ‘mix and match’ table-ware in stoneware clay. From small beginnings, slip casting forms in his father’s shed, Tunks moved in 2004 to a factory in Pialligo, Australian Capital Territory. His solution to production is to employ locally, working with standard materials and good systems to make items of world quality, produced on a personal and local level. Bison has over 60 stockists in Australia and New Zealand, with a strong international market. A key part of Bison’s promotion strategy is to include its tableware in photographic features in food and wine magazines.
Liz Williamson: textiles, NSW
Weaving: jacquard and handwoven: Australia, Canada, India
‘Worn and worn textiles’
Liz Williamson makes distinctive hand woven wraps and scarves on looms in her Sydney studio: wraps and scarves designed to be worn, with textured surfaces created by specific fibres, weave structures and finishing processes. Her research involves worn textiles; fabric already altered through wear and tear, darning and repair. Recently, Williamson has been involved in several development and educational projects in Asia, working with skilled weavers to revive and create textiles for income generation purposes. While advising the Milanangan (‘meeting place’) group of weavers, in West Bengal, she has worked with them to weave a range of wraps and scarves. Since 1998, Williamson has also woven Jacquard textiles at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles in Canada, a specialist weaving facility integrating hand and digital technologies.
Chair of symposium: curator of Smart Works and convenor of symposium:
Grace Cochrane is a freelance curator and writer, based in Sydney. From 1988 until late 2005, she was curator, and later senior curator of Australian decorative arts and design at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and most recently co-ordinating curator for the permanent collection-based exhibition, Inspired! Design across time, 2005. Born in New Zealand, she moved to Australia in 1972 and has a BEd (1976) from the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, and BFA, MFA (1984, 1986) and PhD (1999) from the University of Tasmania. She is the author of The crafts movement in Australia: a history (University of NSW Press, 1992) and has contributed to a number of Australian and international publications and conferences. She received the Australia Council’s Visual Arts/Craft Board’s Emeritus medal in 2001, and a D.Litt honoris causa from the University of New South Wales in 2007.
Co-chair of symposium: curator of Freestyle exhibition at Object gallery:
Brian Parkes is a graduate of the Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania. He has been associate director and senior curator at Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design since January 2000. His major exhibitions for Object include Akira Isogawa, 2002, Dinosaur Designs, 2003, Sydney Style, 2004, Global Local, 2005 (which toured to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London) and the recent survey of contemporary Australian design Freestyle: new Australian design for living, 2006. He is one of ten curators recently invited by Phaidon Press, London, to contribute to & fork, a new book to be published in 2007 profiling 100 emerging product designers from around the world.
(See also Speakers: above) Catrina Vignando is the General Manager of Craft Australia, www.craftaustralia.com.au. Vignando's 18 year professional career in the art sector includes managing art organisations such as Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. She is currently the chairperson of the Australian Craft-Design Organisations, ACDO.
Program manager, Visual Arts Board, Australia Council for the Arts. Previous positions include Director of the Shepparton Art Gallery, Victoria; registrar for regional galleries, Victorian Ministry for the Arts; and curator, Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria.