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NGV Melbourne Design Week 2017


As part the National Gallery of Victoria’s inaugural Melbourne Design Week, local architecture firm Folk Architects have transformed a historic Collingwood watchmaker shop into an engaging exhibition space.

From March 16th to 26th, this satellite venue will host seven design exhibitions, spanning chair creations by top local designers, to intriguing curations of underrated household goods.

We take a tour of this captivating pop-up, with the architects behind it: Christie Petsinis and Tim Wilson.

18th March, 2017
Elle Murrell
Saturday 18th March 2017

A passage through NGV’s Melbourne Design Week pop-up location is a refractive trip that may have you feeling like you’ve teleported into Inception. This dynamic space in Collingwood has undergone an incredible transformation, and will showcase seven exhibitions over the next nine days, including: The Found Object, curated by Jaci Foti- Lowe of Hub Furniture; Ovoid by Nick Horan; Untitled by Coco and Maximilian; 26 Original Fakes by Friends and Associates; Undervalued by Nick Rennie; Apparatus 4 by 227768C; and The Watchmaker by Folk Architects.

The latter is a site-specific installation that contrasts modern reflective materials with raw remnants, harking back to the building’s former lives (including as a pawn shop and a jewellery store). At the Smith Street entrance, the original neon ‘Watchmaker’ sign hovers above an incredible glass and mirrored vestibule, while terrazzo tiles adorn the floor.

In this project, Folk Architects have endeavored to preserve the building’s existing fabric, yet also intervene in ways that emphasise the diverse exhibitions on display. ‘The most significant item that we wanted to address with this project was creating a design solution that would unify the site,’ says Tim Wilson, co-director of Folk Architects.

The award-wining firm’s response comes in the form of 220-square-metres of strategically placed Laminex Metaline Reflections, an aluminium-based mirror-surfaced wall lining. This material has been used to dissolve boundaries and manipulate perceptions while acting as a wayfinding device. ‘The mirrors also allow you to appreciate the unique character and patina within the watchmaker envelope – they reveal the beauty, the marks, the passage of time,’ tells co-director Christie Petsinis.

‘Given the sites former use as a ‘watchmaker’ we were interested in the concept of time as an experience, and how it could relate to the architecture of the space,’ explains Tim, who admits his current read, the fiction Einstein’s Dreams, may have fueled this fascination.

NGV’s first Melbourne Design Week has been curated around the central provocation: ‘What does design value, and what do we value in design?’ For Christie it’s all about making a lasting contribution to our everyday lives. ‘We believe that good architecture and design extends beyond its physical dimension – we are interested in the idea of creating a deeper more sustainable bond between people and the places they inhabit,’ she explains.

Pass by/among/into Folk Architects’ awe-inspiring space to ruminate on design value for yourself. There’s also a temporary gelato stand by Piccolina Gelateria, which will soon turn this very space into their new flagship store!

Watchmaker, 296 Smith Street, Collingwood, is open until March 26th. For more information on exhibitions and opening times visit the website.

Melbourne Design Week is a new annual collaboration between the Victorian Government and the NGV, which will see more than 100 talks, exhibitions, tours, workshops and launches take place throughout Melbourne in celebration of design.

Directors of Folk Architects, Tim Wilson and Christie Petsinis, in the exhibition space they created for the National Gallery of Victoria’s inaugural Melbourne Design Week. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email