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What not to miss at Melbourne Design Week 2024

What not to miss at Melbourne Design Week 2024


Melbourne Design Week 2024 kicks off on 23 May, presenting 11 official days of more than 300 events centred around the theme: ‘Design the world you want’.

Now in its eighth year, Melbourne Design Week is a significant annual design festival in Australia, which presents innovative exhibitions, international keynotes, displays, workshops, symposiums and more.

With so much to see and so little time, we’ve narrowed down the list to 15 unmissable events that you can easily slot into your calendars.

Melbourne Design Week 2024
Installation view of (NO THINGS) MATTERS presented by Marlo Lyda at Villa Alba on display from 18-24 May as part of Melbourne Design Week 2024. Photo: Tess Kelly
MATTERS at Villa Alba
24-27 May, free

Contemporary design will clash with classical walls at the MATTERS exhibition inside Kew’s historic Villa Alba Museum. MATTERS plays host to some of Australia’s most notable and emerging designers, makers and artists, including Tom Fereday, Freeman Gallery, Adam Goodrum, Jon Goulder, Marlo Lyda, Innate Collection, Object Density, Kate Benazi, Studio Tops, Dean Norton, Jordan Fleming, Design by Them with Elliat Rich, Ben McCarthey and Zella Casey Brown.

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Retrofitting Our Cities will be held at Queen & Collins. Photo: Sharyn Cairns
Retrofitting Our Cities
25 and 29 May, $15 or application-only

Presented by BVN, Retrofitting Our Cities aims to ignite dialogue and innovation in sustainable adaptive re-use and placemaking over two dynamic events. The Retrofitting our Cities panel event promises a thought-provoking discussion between BVN, The GPT Group, Kerstin Thompson and Breathe on the opportunities to retrofit, repurpose and re-life unassuming buildings. Meanwhile, the Design Sprint presents a unique opportunity for architecture and design students or recent graduates to tackle real-world challenges that face our cities. Entry to the sprint is free but limited, with prizes awarded, while the panel costs $15.

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Danielle Brustman and Edward Linacre, Meteorite (in situ)
Desire x Design
1 May – 15 June, free

Desire is the subject of the first thematic exhibition at the new Useful Objects gallery, which specialises in collectible design. The inaugural exhibition features works by dynamic designer-makers Elliot Bastianon, Danielle Brustman and Edward Linacre, Jordan Fleming, Lisa Gorman, Trent Jansen, Jay Jermyn, Marlo Lyda, Joanne Odisho, Marcus Piper and Dean Toepfer. Through materials, ideas and forms, they flesh out the impulse to want and question whether the object of desire is the catalyst or endpoint of this fundamental force. 

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Gray Puksand
Royal Melbourne Hospital’s new non-clinical HQ by Gray Puksand. Photo: supplied
Happy Building, Happy Staff, Happy Patients: Staff Wellbeing in Healthcare
23 May, free

In this informal discussion hosted by Gray Puksand, participants are invited to examine the interconnectedness of healthcare infrastructure, staff wellbeing and patient experience. A mix of design and health care experts, including Quentin Seik, Allison Lamb, Amanda Wilson, Kristiina Siiankoski and Alison Smith will explore how deliberate design can create a sense of calmness and shift away from the clinical and sterile ambience often associated with healthcare settings.

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Melbourne Design Week 2024 death
Genesis Lake, Bunurong Memorial Park. Photo: Jonathan Lang for Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
Six Feet Under: Design + Death Symposium
2 June, $35 – $45

Open House Melbourne and special guests are holding a day of panel conversations shining a light on the architecture, places, issues and practices associated with death and the end of life. Three panel discussions, including Future Undertakings: Design and the Future of the Cemetery; Designing for Diversity: Cultural Practices of Mourning and Towards the Light: Design at the End of Life, invite audiences to consider the intersection of design and death and discover how the spaces we associate with death and dying are, surprisingly, more about life and how we live.

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Bolaji Teniola. Photo: Melvin Josy
Reflections of Home
29 May – 2 June, free

What does the idea of ‘home’ mean to you? A multidisciplinary cohort of Australian and international creatives interrogate this question, answering with objects, lighting, photography and video. Presented by Bolaji Teniola and showcased in the Coco Flip gallery space, Reflections Of Home is a celebration of the diversity of thought and culture found within the creative community.

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Melbourne Design Week 2024
Works by Claire Ellis for Material Provenance, 2 May – 15 Jun 2024. Image courtesy of Craft Victoria. Photo: Sarah Forgie
Material Provenance
2 May – 15 June, free

As part of Craft Victoria’s ‘Conscious Craft’ initiative, four past and present artists from the Clay Matters collective have put together an exhibition that promotes the launch of their global open-source research project of the same name: Material Provenance. Participants Claire Ellis, Amelia Black, Jane Sawyer and Kate Jones have used a limited list of currently traceable materials to make work from a place of broader understanding about the environmental impact, process of extraction and labour used to make the materials ready for ceramic application. 

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Works left-right: Welfe Bowyer, Annie Paxton, Alexander Brown, Andrew Carvolth, Bel Williams. Photo: Sarah Forgie
11 May – 22 June, free

Another Conscious Craft exhibition, Aluminium is a single material exploration. Obtaining virgin aluminium is resource-heavy, with significant tolls on the environment through bauxite extraction and processing. Conversely, when recycled, it is considered one of the most sustainable industrial materials with comparatively minimal carbon emissions. Six artists, makers and designers – including Annie Paxton, Abdé Nouamani, Alexander Brown, Andrew Carvolth, Bel Williams and Welfe Bowyer – have been invited to respond to the contradictions of this material, creating work made exclusively from recycled aluminium. 

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Toilet Stories
Photo: RMIT students
Toilet Stories
23 – 24 May, free

Toilets can be profoundly intimate and contentious spaces. In Toilet Stories, interior design students from RMIT University, University of the Arts London and Toronto Metropolitan University have explored toilet interiors in relation to public space, culture, sexuality and politics, addressing contemporary issues around gender, utility, cleanliness and class within the discipline of interior design. The students have developed tactics in narrative, decoration and subversion to explore ways of queering the interior design of toilets. 

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Overlay Melbourne Design Week 2024
Photo: supplied by CJ Cornish
23 – 26 May, free, booking required for opening night

Fifteen architects, interior designers and object designers will reimagine heritage aesthetics to better reflect our climate and context in this exhibition curated by CJ Cornish and Locki Humphrey. The exhibitors will explore the tension between preserving heritage architecture and the need to adapt homes for density, sustainability, community and connection to Country.

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Melbourne Design Week 2024
Lorena Gaxiola. Photo: supplied
Design Knows No Borders
23 May – 2 June

A design collaboration showcasing some of the work of ‘design rule-breaker’ Mexican American interior architect Lorena Gaxiola will take place in the heart of the city at the stunning Cosentino City Showroom during Melbourne Design Week 2024. Describing herself as “an artist who happens to be an interior designer”, Gaxiola works to a unique design philosophy that ‘design knows no borders’. Alongside the week-long showcase, the design talk Design Knows No Borders: Unlocking Collective Strength through Alliance will take place at Cosentino City Showroom on 23 May.

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Soniah floor lamp by FAINA. Photo: supplied
Ethics: Foreign Dialogues
23 May – 1 June, free 

FIN Gallery will showcase the works of Victoria Yakusha during Melbourne Design Week 2024. Born in Ukraine, Yakusha is a versatile designer, artist and architect who places a strong emphasis on using living materials native to her country of birth, including clay, wood, wool and willow vine. Following Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity in 2014, Yakusha established FAINA, a design brand specialising in furniture, decor, and lighting deeply rooted in Ukrainian cultural heritage. For the exhibition, Yakusha has curated several of her works from various collections.

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Ross Gardam
Equilibrium. Photo: Haydn Cattach
23 – 26 May, free

Ross Gardam is exhibiting a continuation of the Volant Lighting collection, which won the Object, Furniture and Lighting – Professional award at IDEA 2023. Volant is a static chandelier with a mystifying ability to appear in motion. Within this design, solid brass bars are home to textured, tubular-formed glass elements, each precisely angled to give the impression of floating objects revolving around each other.

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Drawings Melbourne Design Week 2024
Image by Peter Davidson
Drawings by Peter Davidson
23 May – 1 June, free

Peter Davidson is an artist and architect best known for designing Melbourne’s Federation Square and founding LAB architecture studio. After suffering a major stroke in 2010, Davidson stopped practising as an architect and devoted himself full-time to his artistic practice. The exhibition Drawings presents a new series of black and white drawings by Davidson, reflecting a relentless desire to explore the line, both in architecture and then through abstraction.

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Melbourne Design Week 2024
Melbourne Art Book Fair 2022 in the NGV Great Hall. Photo: Tobias Titz
Melbourne Art Book Fair
24 – 26 May, free

From 24 – 26 May, Melbourne Art Book Fair transforms the NGV’s Great Hall into a marketplace of art books, publishing and design. Its tenth year will feature more than 100 stallholders, including an Indonesian focus with Binatang Press and KRACK! From 23 May to 2 June 2024, the Fair will also spread to venues across Melbourne and Victoria with book launches, talks, exhibitions and more. 

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For the full list of events and to book tickets, visit the Melbourne Design Week website.


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