- Article by Charlotte Huston
As part of Melbourne Design Week, the National Gallery of Victoria and Stylecraft has announced Ashley Eriksmoen as the winner of the Australian Furniture Design Award (AFDA).
Founded by Stylecraft and first awarded in 2015, AFDA is a national competition open to all Australian designers and makers.
The award recognised excellence in furniture design and the contribution it makes to design discourse and Australian culture.
Canberra-based Eriksmoen is a designer-maker whose practice, which spans critical design and contemporary craft, breaks down disciplinary boundaries.
She was selected from a shortlist of five finalists who were invited to present their realised designs for exhibition at the Stylecraft showroom in Melbourne, followed by virtual judging.
Her winning submission ‘The Dream, or: the view from here is both bleak and resplendent’ critiques resource-intensive production-consumption-waste practices and disrupts furniture archetypes.
It is constructed from discarded timber furniture with the shaped upholstery dyed with Eucalyptus leaves reflecting native Australian landscapes, flattening to white squares symbolising sheep and Modernism.
The chaise references both poolside lounges and therapist’s couches as the user may rest easy in cognitive dissonance, wrestle with eco-anxiety or both.
NGV curator and jury chair Simone LeAmon commended Eriksmoen’s project for its “innovative and thought-provoking design” that “upcycles domestic timber furniture to demonstrate the potential of post-consumer waste.”
“An exquisite construction, the furniture design belies a sombre yet critical message alerting us to the relationships between consumer waste, natural resources, deforestation and habitat destruction.
“The work implores us to consider strategies for creating sustainable new furniture designs from the wealth of resources that we already have at our disposal.”
In addition to a $20000 cash prize, Eriksmoen will receive support from Stylecraft for design, production and distribution of a furniture design, plus a two-week residency program at JamFactory in Adelaide to experiment with new ideas and materials, prototype new work or explore new making processes.
Lead image photographed by Zoe Twomey-Birks.