Furnishing the future

An exhibition in Launceston highlights how Tasmania continues to attract and shape new generations of designers and makers.

MIND. MATTER, which will run until 4 January 2019 at Design Tasmania, showcases the work of seven graduates of the University of Tasmania’s furniture design program.

Program director Louise Wallis said the designers’ work was as varied as their backgrounds.

“These students have come from around Australia and here in Tasmania, and from school, trades or careers ranging from health to farming, but what they all have in common is a deeply personal approach to design,” Dr Wallis said.

“And that was the challenge that lay before them this year: how do you design and make in a world that is already rich with designed furniture? You have to make it personal. It’s a challenge they all met.”

The approaches range from modern explorations of Tasmanian vernacular furniture, to a dining table and benches that explore the push and pull of the land and the sea; from using the reclaimed timbers of a backyard shed to create furniture that speaks to a family connection to Tasmania’s hydro-electric scheme, to finding inspiration among the state’s small birds and their colour, beauty and “shameless grace”.

The students worked with timber and metal, and some pushed hard against the what most would understand to be the definition of a piece of furniture, creating a full sensory experience.

Dr Wallis said it was especially pleasing that five of the seven students in this cohort were women.

“These students represent the next wave of talented furniture designers emerging from our design island; it is unusual, and wonderful, that most of them are women,” she said.

“Thanks to things like Design Tasmania’s Women in Design, which has become an important national event held in Launceston every year, our state is playing a leadership role in focusing on women in design.”

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