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DESIGN Canberra Festival: Asking the big questions

Laura Peppas

Is there an Australian design culture? What is the best way to create healthier societies for the 21st century? What makes for good collaboration?

These and other big questions facing the world of design will be explored at the DESIGN Canberra Festival next month.

Not quite a lecture and not quite a debate, DESIGN Buzz will be held over two nights, bringing together some of the best designers, craftspeople and thinkers from around the world to share their thoughts on important issues relating to design. The public is welcome to attend DESIGN Buzz to learn and engage in stimulating discussions (ticketed event).

The first session, Me -> We, focuses on effective collaborations and is presented by glass artist Jeremy Lepisto and artists/curators Lynda Roberts and Paul Gazzola.

Jeremy, who moved to Australia in 2009 after co-founding Studio Ramp LLC in the United States, is a strong supporter of community collaboration and seeks out other specialty makers and craftspeople to help execute complex, one-off designs.

He says effective collaboration brings together a wide range of skills, expertise and perspectives and can contribute enormously to finding elegant and durable solutions.

Jeremy Lepisto1

Independent artist Jeremy Lepisto

“With the work that we make for others, we pragmatically help translate their designs into form; we do not re-interpret or edit the aesthetic aims of our clients,” says Jeremy.

“The success of this method of collaborative construction takes time, care and honesty to develop with each client. If done well, the resulting projects are built to the best physical representation of the concept. If not done well, projects are either not built to their pragmatic potential or in line with the vision of what the work needed to be.

“For me, collaborating with creative people is a key part of my individual practice. It allows me to share and challenge what I know while continuing to expand my understanding of material possibilities. I also believe that it helps each individual maker and designer create ideas greater than their separate understandings.”

The second session, Placemaking and Culture, will explore the relationship between placemaking and cultural identity and the impact of the international flow of cultural and artistic ideas and influences. Speakers Professor Jessica Hemming, Head of the School of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and Sydney based artist/designer Lucy Simpson will lead the way on this conversation.

Leah Heiss

Trans-disciplinary designer Leah Heiss

Lucy, a Yuwaalaraay woman who was named a recipient of the British Council’s Indigenous Creative Leadership Program Accelerate, says Aboriginal perspectives and notions of identity and connection drive her design work.

“Through the framework of placemaking and culture we are able connect to the principals and philosophies of Aboriginal design and its interconnectedness to country and belonging,” she says.

“This particular concept is important as a means to communicate quite complex notions of Indigenous knowledge systems and old and new ways of interaction by people to place and objects.”

In other sessions throughout the two-day series, Netherlands-based connector, communicator and collaborator Ingrid Van der Wacht and founder of Sustainable Futures Australia Peter Cuming will discuss the importance of sustainable design and the tools they draw on to deliver practical solutions to real world problems in Sustainable Futures.

Finally, in Living Design, Professor of Palliative Care for Calvary Health and the Australian Catholic University Dr Liz Forbat and trans-disciplinary designer Leah Heiss will discuss the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in understanding the impact of urban environments on health and wellbeing.

Run by Craft ACT, DESIGN Canberra is the territory’s most significant design event. In 2015, organisers say the festival will be bigger and better than ever, running across nine days with close to 70 activities involving more than 750 participants.

The essentials
What: DESIGN Buzz Series
When: Monday 23 November and Tuesday 24 November, 7pm for a 7.30 start
Where: Ainslie Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Avenue, Braddon
How much: $40 for general admission; $20 for students (please show student card at the door.)
Tickets: bit.ly/designbuzz 

For the full DESIGN Canberra Festival program, click here: designcanberrafestival.com.au/program


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author