Melbourne Now Design Wall
National Gallery Of Victoria
Melbourne Now Design Wall
The simple and environmentally-sound mounting system allows for open-ended curatorial narratives, with high visual impact. The scale and format of the wall installation challenges the didactic nature of the piece, which is then accompanied by a digital interface. The election process of objects is also carefully considered. And it looks great! – Hayley Eber
This deceptively simple display system results in a visually complex and truly eye-catching interior, and the serial repetition of everyday objects lends them a museological character. When basic design gestures have huge results, you know you’re doing something right. – Geoff Manaugh
Melbourne Now Design Wall
Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria for the exhibition Melbourne Now (22 November 2013 - 23 March 2014) – a presentation of art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice in Melbourne, the Design Wall: Design in everyday life curated by Simone LeAmon and designed by Carter LeAmon presented 40 design projects by 21 Melbourne design studios in a temporary installation design. Providing a rich and compelling insight into Melbourne’s contemporary design practice at this moment each project was presented in multiples with near to 700 objects making up the Design Wall.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you? Who is the at-risk population, and what behavior do you seek to change in this population?
Melbourne Now explored the idea that a city is significantly shaped by its artists, designers and architects. The largest and most ambitious project to be undertaken by the National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne Now brought together over 300 artists and 30 curators. Melbourne Now represented a new direction for the NGV in its collaborative curatorial approach commissioning guest curators for creative disciplinary fields outside of the NGV’s current curatorial scope. Engaged as guest curator for design Simone LeAmon was responsible for devising the curatorial rationale and content for a showcase of industrial, product, furniture and object design by contemporary Melbourne designers. Commissioned also for the exhibition design Simone LeAmon along with Edmund Carter of Carter LeAmon devised the design direction and managed the production of the presentation. Contextualised amidst the broader objectives of the Melbourne Now exhibition, the task of both curating and designing the first presentation of contemporary product and industrial design at the National Gallery of Victoria carried responsibility. The brief asked for a presentation that could move NGV audiences to see design as having both creative and cultural significance; that embedded within design are ideas, meaning and emotion deserving of cultural examination and while different, the designer's creative process is equivalent to other artistic practices where the pursuit and execution of the idea is paramount. The challenge posed was: a) what design projects to select b) why - the extended curatorial rationale and c) how to communicate the curatorial rationale in an exhibition design.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The intent of the Design Wall was to deliver an immersive and inclusive exhibition experience for the NGV audience. To provide a rich and compelling insight into Melbourne’s contemporary design practice at this moment and show how a notion of ‘place’ can find its way into product design. Thus the aim was to assemble a collection of ‘everyday’ design products distinctive to Melbourne/Australia, which revealed interesting stories about the city, its people and the conditions that underpin design activity and enterprise. Communicating design’s relationship to serial production the Design Wall featured a curatorial selection of projects by 21 Melbourne designers and design manufacturers. The curatorial rationale explored how design translates values of what we believe and practice into objects that we manufacture, use and apply in everyday life scenarios. Curated to five themes: Design and Social Culture, Design and the Economy, Design and Sustainability, Design and the Human Body, Design and Visual Culture the Design Wall aimed to reveal how Melbourne designers are mediating social, cultural, ecological, economic and aesthetic narratives. These themes were identified for their ability to harness local stories and help build a picture of serial design production originating from Melbourne.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The selection process for the design projects was carried out over 6 months touring Melbourne’s leading design consultancies, small design studios and design manufacturers. Guided by the curatorial rationale the selection process was further informed by the gallery site - featuring a wall of 15m x 7m. The exhibition design concept for the Design Wall evolved while considering how best to communicate design’s relation to serial production; Carter LeAmon’s idea to represent each project as a multiple. Thus, the installation design used repetition to draw attention to product design’s constant negotiation of serial production. Sourced from 21 designers and manufacturers from across Australia and O.S, 40 projects were displayed using a modular, universal mounting system designed by Carter LeAmon. Referencing the production line projects were installed in rows spanning the entire width of the gallery wall (15m) and height (7m). Near to 700 objects comprising tram grab handles, brooms, table lamps, bike lights, drink coolers, wetsuits, taps, chairs, stools, tableware, bags, and sailboat hardware, to name a few, combined to deliver a visually arresting design.
Wishing for the objects to appear as if ‘floating’ off the wall, attention to the composition of the object types in both front and side view became a priority. The task of installing projects of various dimensions and weights to the gallery wall necessitated a clever yet simple to install, low cost mounting system. The visual impact of the hardware was also an important consideration; wishing it to recede and defer to the objects - lending visual appeal when noticed. Taking inspiration from the point/pin mounting of insect specimens, Carter LeAmon designed a modular, universal mounting system comprising a steel mount (in three sizes) and length of 30mm dia timber dowel (customised in seven ways). Making possible 21 different combinations to accommodate each design project.
Determined to minimise the environmental impact of the Design Wall, Carter LeAmon developed a scheme which retained the existing finish of the gallery wall - 85 sq metres of hoop-pine ply. Designed for re-use the mounting system takes storage into consideration, able to be dis-assembled and stacked consuming approximately 1.5 cubic metres. The steel mounts were fabricated locally in Melbourne, the dowel milled from environmentally sustainable resources with FSC, AFCS and PEFC certification.
The scale and format of the installation challenged the use of a conventional wall didactic. Committed to informing and educating the public about all 40 design projects, including information on the design studios and manufactures, Carter LeAmon collaborated with the NGV multimedia dept to produce a digital interface. Locating several tablets in-situ allowed for touchscreen navigation of the installation and exhibition content. Engaging children and people of all ages, the digital interface ensured information was accessed easily.
The Design Wall represented a new direction for the National Gallery of Victoria in terms of exhibiting contemporary product and industrial design for the first time. A legacy project, near to 750,000 visitors attended the NGV over 3 months to view the exhibition. Delivering an unprecedented experience of contemporary Melbourne product design in a cultural institution the Design Wall will continue to have an impact on the NGV’s relationship with its audiences and the design community. Significantly, the installation moved people to see design as having both creative and cultural significance.