The very fabric of good design

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With the ongoing saturation in our local furniture market of mid-century knock-offs (think about the unavoidable number of faux Arne Jacobsen egg chairs existing anywhere you care to look) it should prove an excellent idea to experience the new and diverse local and international design talent to be heralded at the Australian International Furniture Fair 2011, held in Sydney next month.

This year the fair promises a number of edgy entries that are not only pushing the proverbial envelope but also fiercely recognising the ever important eco message. In actuality, about 93% of this year’s entries are thinking about our planet and the ongoing need for its preservation, including the smart and continued use of reclaimed materials.

A highlight of the fair is the The Edge competition, featuring a new pack of avant designers vying for a number of top awards. Our future Marc Newsons should get in quick and enter this seminal event which includes a number of international speakers offering a plethora of info on the latest in global interior design.

Resident spokesperson for Interior Trend Forecasting group ‘Decoration + Design’, as well as this year’s featured speaker, Genty Marshall, spoke with Cream about her involvement with the AIFF this year as well as her thoughts on our burgeoning design industry in 2011.

“Something that I’m really enjoying at the moment and am looking forward to seeing more of is the fascination with process,” said Marshall. “For some it is highly technological with the likes of rapid prototyping techniques or computer-generated designs, for others it’s a getting back to almost archaic production techniques, even equipment.”

When asked about our local up and coming design talent – particularly those competing in the fairs The Edge competition – and how they are perceiving modern design, Marshall says “We have some marvellous designers on our shores. I think our designers are very good when it comes to refining concepts and as a result we see some well-considered ideas resolved in unambiguous products.”

Some of those products at this year’s fair include the likes of stools modelled on teeth and robots, and an outdoor chair made of ‘bum warming’ pebbles. Marshall, who is highly sought after by the industry to offer insight and direction based on current and future design trends was also asked by Cream to surmise what both the challenges and benefits are in businesses seeking trend assistance today. She states, “One of the most damaging misconceptions to my profession is on the way trend forecasts are used. Companies use forecasts to reconnect with their market and to inspire their design team, not to plagiarise other people’s work.

“The creative teams that I work with are not lacking in ideas or original talent, rather the opposite. To use an analogy – sometimes you can have a fridge full of food and still not know what to cook. We don’t give the chef a recipe, we just tell him what the guests will be in the mood to eat.”

The Australian International Furniture Fair 2011 will be held from February 2nd-4th at the Sydney Exhibition Centre. Visit www.aiff.net.au for more information.