The DesignEx central bar was designed by Michael McCann of Dreamtime Australia Design. Constructed from cardboard tubing and cableties, it was very impressive in scale etc…. but, call me pedantic… I was a bit sad that they didn’t trim the cableties. :(

Furniture in the Central Bar by Spacecraft

Oooh… I hope you’re not all design-festivalled out already! …because today I have some coverage of DesignEx, which was held in Melbourne on the weekend. It never ends. I can’t figure out why DesignEx happens only a few days after Milan Design Week ends. Strange. It seems to me that all the most exciting designers would be in Europe at this time? Anyway.

DesignEx is a weird one. It’s trade only, which kind of annoys me. Although on this occasion I did have a media pass which made things (ie taking photos) much easier. Essentially it’s a huge showcase of all the top brands in building products and interior design materials, presented to I think around 17,000 architects and interior designers who descend on the event over 3 days.

It’s not always very exciting, because all the brands who show at DesignEx are very established big names, and are not necessarily very innovative. And after all the Milan coverage I must say it’s hard to get excited by our local, somewhat more modest offerings! But let’s be fair, this isn’t the international stage, and I have to say that this year, amongst all the usual suspects, a handful of stands really did stand out. Highlights below!

Perhaps my favourite stand – Cascade Coil is a flexible wire mesh fabric, manufactured in the US. It’s available in a number of colours and finishes, but I loved the all-gold theme of their stand – particularly effective with the illuminated floor! Very swish. Stand design by Hassell. It was only a smallish stand but really wowed the crowds. Fabulous. Cascade Coil is available in Melbourne through DAAC commercial window furnishings.

More Cascade Coil

Marc Pascal lights

Marc Pascal is such a great Melbourne character – that’s him on the right, as colourful as his work, getting a bit frazzled by with the lack of phone reception. Hee! Love his hand-crafted lamps and pendants… beautiful.

SONA (the Student Oragnised Network for Architecture) created this scaffold wendy-house structure… the stall was unmanned… so I don’t know much about it. Except that it was designed by Andrew Moller, based on ideas of adaptation and manipulation of flexible, temporary and re-usable building materials. (ie, scaffolding). Cute.

Meizai won me over with sheer styling power – they showcased their very extensive and eclectic range of home accessories and furniture in a huge stand divided into three main themes. I took a lot of shots of the earthy, rustic-inspired area, and the more opulent boudoir-style section (bottom shot below). It all looked absolutely gorgeous… and so well put together… but… I was a bit disappointed by the very Jaime Hayon-esque inspired furniture and lamps… oh well… I guess when you’re Jamie Hayon imitation is inevitable.

Meizai’s rustic homewares (top) and somewhat Jaime Hayon-esque furniture and accessories.

Latitude showcased student design – my favourites were Annabelle Peters’ Skewer Lamps, and I quite liked that delicate steel/timber chair (below) by Rock Martin. (both designer’s websites are definitely worth a visit!)

JSB Lighting

JSB Lighting made me chuckle… mainly because their lumberjack-inspired matching outfits were so ridiculously cute! They must have been cursing their bosses. Anyway, fantastic stand showcasing their range of Modular lights. Really engaging recycled tea-crate style shelving and yes, artificial grass. It was very popular. Sometimes it feels as though DesignEx is an astroturf convention.

JSB lighting again… aww, toolbelts!

Oooh and while we’re talking artificial grass – check out The Outdoor Room by Jamie Durie. He used the opportunity to launch his new Outdoor kitchen with Electrolux. Jeepers Creepers. It’s a bit much. Plumbed-in sink, cooktop and BBQ and worksurface etc etc, and even an incorporated vertical herb garden etc! Jamie himself was there in full-force plugging his wares… hee! I just can’t stop thinking about him doing backflips on Backyard Blitz. Ah, good on ‘im. (PS also notice that in addition to his own Patio range and Eletrolux stuff, he is also flogging the ‘Outdoor Cinema’, and a custom Porters Paints range, with his photo on every tin!)

Jamie in full force!

Although Jamie was very entertaining, I kind of prefered the more serene award-winning ‘Relativity’ garden by James Dawson Landscape Design and Woodbridge Landscape Developments. I cannot believe they brought in a full scale water pool… with gold-fish!

The most inspiring and refreshing of textiles / wallpapers on show were at the Funkis Sweden stand, showcasing the incredible Tres Tintas range from Spain. (above and below)

Fisher and Paykel
must be doing ok in the current economic climate – their incredible ‘Ironside’ stand left no expense spared, comparing a full-scale functional ‘Kitchen of Today’ with ‘Tomorrow’s Kitchen’, each fully fitted within a customised 40 ft shipping container. Tomorrow’s kitchen introduced the IZONA range of products, specifically the ‘Cool Drawer’ (fridge + drawer = Cool Drawer). Wow.

Fisher and Paykel / IZONA Kitchen of Tomorrow and IZONA cooldrawer

Last but not least. The incredible AIA bar by Chris Bosse of LAVA featuring the ‘Kaleidosculp’ roof constructed from a ‘silicone glass composite textile with outstanding translucency and light
diffusion properties’. What can I say? That Chris Bosse really knows what he’s doing.

Phew. Can I go home now?