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Issue #72 / Australia $16.50 / New Zealand $17.50 / Singapore $12.95 / U.S. $21.99
A professional resource for the design curious.
INDE.Awards 2018, The Regionâ€™s Best Design Indesign Luminary Mia Feasey Suncorp Sydney, Geyer Edward Barber, Barber & Osgerby 8bit, Architects EAT The WorkLife Issue.
1/16/18 6:45 PM
Bold In Gold
Out with the old, in with the gold! You may recall late 2016 when all anyone could talk about was Normann Copenhagen’s epic new head-to-toe pink showroom. And now, not even 12 months later, the brand has ditched its Insta-famous soakedin-Millennial-pink Copenhagen flagship interior in place of an ode-to -gold that puts Vatican City to shame. Titled The Runway Issue, the concept for the 1700 square-metre space was Normann Copenhagen’s love-letter to the fashion world. Designed as a “runway for furniture” by Normann Copenhagen designer, Hans Hornemann, the showroom is crafted as a linear display of products, which are likened to supermodels, that appear to float on a sea of molten gold – so very haute couture! As per its pink predecessor, the monolithic, mirrored staircase appears as if from nowhere in the centre of the first floor, guiding visitors to the lower gallery where mustard velvet steps give way to a terrifically assaulting glow of metallic and chrome gold, made even more spectacular by the trail of Normann Copenhagen signature lighting fixtures. The result is an interesting and extravagant space that draws attention to complement the product collection, known for its restrained and detail-oriented aesthetic, juxtaposed and emphasised by the outrageous application of glittering gold. It’s obviously a ridiculously cool space, but what’s even more compelling is its ‘in-transit’ nature. Previous residents of the Copenhagen location included a water distillery, theatre, sound studio and cinema. Not only has Normann Copenhagen been sensitive in maintaining key elements of the space’s physical history, but also its predilection for change. Not even 12 months ago, the showroom was a pink sculpture museum. Today, it’s a golden haute runway. And tomorrow? Well, whatever it is, we can’t wait to see what follows.
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I N Fa mo u s
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I N Fa m o u s
Baptism Of Fire Words Paul McGillick Photography Various
Mia Feasey of Siren Design is living proof that guts and ambition can make distant dreams a reality. Here’s how the former girl-band front-woman came to lead her own international design firm. Opposite & pages 76 & 78: Forever young? Mia Feasey has built Siren Design to reflect a fresh & agile approach – both in workplace culture and design approach, photos: Charles Dennington. Page 77: Siren’s green, tech-savvy, organic spaces for Atlassian, photo: courtesy of Siren Design.
1/15/18 4:03 PM
Objects Of Empowerment Knight references mid-century Modern designers and contemporary artists through fit-out features such as the large, round wall shelf and point-of-sale counter â€“ a homage to the late Gabriella Crespi, a Milanese designer whose objects famously balance design with sculptural abstraction.
1/10/18 10:42 AM
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When your client is competing in a saturated market of gourmet fast food, how do you ensure their offering says something different? With a new designer diner in Melbourne’s Collins Street, Architects EAT and 8bit talk brand evolution, the significance of Super Mario and the sophisticated art of casual hospitality.
Burger Bitmap 8bit Collins Street, Melbourne by Architects EAT Words Sandra Tan Photography Derek Swalwell
Opposite: Coloured pegs on the point-of-sale counter reference video game coins. Page 110: Detailed wooden partitions help create separate zones throughout the restaurant. Page 111: Visible from the exterior, feature lighting elevates 8bit’s street presence. Page 112-113: Wall treatments in the style of Tetris pieces evoke playful movement. Page 114: 8bit’s vivid interior distinguishes it from its Bates Smart-designed complex.
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a first-class welcome
Above & Page 154: The Virgin Atlantic Airways Clubhouses by Eight Inc are designed to support a next-gen client experience that is smarter, more personal & highly customisable. Pages 151-153: PwC Sydney by Futurespace is designed to provide a new & experimental client experience for the company.
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Keeping your workers happy is important. But making your clients feel special is just as critical. The future of business lies in a ‘binary’ design approach that equally addresses clients’ and workers’ experiences. Futurespace’s Angela Ferguson and international design icon Tim Kobe open our world up to new possibility. Words Sophia Watson Photography PwC Sydney by Nicole England | Virgin Atlantic Airways Clubhouses courtesy of Eight Inc.
Creative cross-pollination moves the world forward – a truth I think we’ve all accepted. But if we want to know where the answers to the future of the workplace can be found, we need to cast our gaze beyond the commercial bubble. Elvis Presley for example, changed the future of the music industry when he blended sex (at least the suggestion of it) into his performances – a crossover that had, until then, been unthinkable. Andy Warhol likewise revolutionised the art world when he rebelled against the aristocratic establishment and proclaimed that the future of the art community could be found in the ordinary, accessible world of pop-culture and stock grocery items – again, a strange and unexpected mixture which proved to be the fuel that the art community arguably needed to survive. Similarly, the next frontier of smart workplace design is cracking the formula on a ‘binary’ user format, where companies are looking to not only improve the performance of their employees, but the experience for their clients, too. What remains mostly uncharted is the creation of a unique client experience within the workplace. Traditionally, it’s been all about the workers. In the meantime our commercial clients are looking to us for leadership, and by necessity we must widen our scope of reference to tackle the challenge at hand. The aviation industry presents us with some strong solutions in this area, where the world’s top airlines offer best-in-class client experiences from departure to arrival, while also attracting and maintaining the world’s most talented staff – often all within a single environment. It’s everything we’ve been looking for! For Tim Kobe, founder and CEO of global design firm Eight Inc, the client experience, whether in a workplace, an airport lounge, or a plane, is quite consistent. “I’m not convinced that every company’s needs are so different. Ultimately, the primary role of any company is to serve people in a meaningful and effective way.” For Kobe, every design should begin from this place, ensuring “that the experience customers have with the brand align and resonate at both a functional and an emotional level”. This was certainly the thinking that drove Eight Inc’s design for premier airline Virgin Atlantic, specifically their series of award-winning transit lounges, the Virgin Atlantic Airways Clubhouses (VAAC).
The initial brief for the VAAC was to provide a sophisticated refuge for Virgin customers before or in-between international flights. “Over the years, the romance has slowly been drained from travel,” says Kobe. Virgin, however, was determined not to let this happen. Organised into several zones, the VAAC offer everything a weary traveller could want, including: a full-service bar; lounges with armchairs for work or relaxation; tables for dining; a business centre; a complete kitchen; restrooms and showers. The long southern wall is occupied by a window that overlooks the runways, and is shaded by a series of sliding glass panels that create a daily animation of coloured light across a luminous glass bar and reception. Different ceiling heights expand the space vertically, rich mahogany wall panels in the dining area provide a warm contrast to the glass, and sculptural seating elements featuring modern furniture add to the contemporary but comfortable environment. “We thoroughly considered how the lounge would fit into a broader spectrum of travellers’ various encounters with Virgin Atlantic. I really think that when you stop thinking of your design existing in isolation – in this case, the pre-flight experience, the flight experience proper, and the post- flight experience – you will produce something much greater, more holistic and connected. And that is what’s really valuable in a modern service industry.” For Kobe, the markings of this next-gen client experience is “smarter, more personal and highly customisable”. In the case of VAAC every possible element of the journey is designed to support this far more comprehensive approach to user experience. “The quality of the food, the variety of support services that give each type of traveller the right kind of facilities and support – from the business traveller, the solo traveller, or family on vacation – every moving part is considered. For example, there are services and facilities that recognise the needs that people have when they travel, be they personal care and grooming, entertainment, work and/or recreation.” Futurespace’s Angela Ferguson has long recognised the aviation industry for offering a valuable benchmark for workplace designers looking to set a new standard in quality user amenities. But, she says: “Flexible, tech-enabled workplaces that provide a great deal of choice catering to individual needs and preferences, have collaborative and concentrative spaces, are sustainable, with a focus
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1/14/18 6:40 PM
I N T e r est
For many furniture designers struggling to survive on two to five per cent royalties cheques, the recently departed David Bowie delivers a masterclass in ‘get rich or die at Salone’. Words David Congram Photography Masayoshi Sukita
Every industry has its in-joke. Ours? A designer’s bank balance. But as we approach our annual multibillion-dollar blowout – Salone del Mobile di Milano – the in-joke is beginning to enter the water supply. In the coming months, this sheer inequity will no longer prompt its usual exasperated eye rolling but, rather, substantial column inches under scandalised headlines. And I, for one, cannot help but agree with Ilse Crawford’s notorious quip for The Guardian: “Designers too often end up being voluntary workers for millionaires.” That we’ve become an industry of over-enthusiastic debtors is no longer a point of contention. After all, many of the objects at Salone will be prototypes exhibited by designers in the hopes of snagging a royalty. Whether emerging or emeritus, most continue to chase manufacturers to license production of their lamp/table/et cetera on the standard two to five per cent factory cost return. Yet, many will never see the fruits of manufacture through this brokering of intellectual property. Little wonder, then, that with each of its yearly iterations, Salone elicits fewer accolades and increasingly more qualms. Is this our industry’s most glittering achievement? Or, arguably more apt, is Salone’s half-million square metres of ‘stuff’ merely a wide paupers’ grave of stillborn furniture – a laundering front hiding the lack of earning being passed down the industrial relations pipeline from underpaid designers to their unpaid interns? “I think there are other models to be explored,” Ross Gardam, one of Australia’s most active designers, tells me. “For instance, even crowd sourcing has changed the way products can be funded or markets tested. Other models may offer better systems of transparency in the future.” He’s right, of course: there’s no cigar in an unsustainable remittance system, but it needn’t be our only system. In 1996 David Bowie, of all people, realised this too. The tail end of the old millennium was not kind to the music industry. If video hadn’t killed the radio star, then vacuous IP protections, convoluted subsidies and slap-on-the-wrist licensing infringements certainly did. Chart cycles had shortened and consistently high-indexing bands and artists were beginning to sink into disregard under a flood of newer, nimbler choices. (Sound familiar?) A handful of commercially unsuccessful (albeit technically dazzling) 1990s albums had left our once young Starman in a state of frustration and penury that even stints in a Swiss tax haven and a cocaine rehabilitation clinic couldn’t alleviate. In January 1997, news broke that he’d shorted the system and therewith invented the century’s final financial phenomenon: David Bowie became a tradable Wall Street commodity. Annoyed by paltry royalties and masterpieces lost to the studio archives, Bowie sought the backing of The Pullman Group, Fahnstock
United States Investment Bank and Prudential Insurance Company Of America. His intention? To consolidate over 287 of his standing copyrights and recordings into assets-backed securities (including ‘Life On Mars?’, ‘Space Oddity’, and ‘Ashes To Ashes’ et al.). The desire was simple – and supremely worth of note in our case: raise a lump sum of cash rather than rely on capricious income flow from royalties. Outwitting a remunerations structure to be no longer variable but, finally, secured, he released The Bowie Bonds onto the trading floor. All were purchased before the NYSE bell rang out that afternoon. The Bowie Bonds securitised the practice of innovation and creation, immediately rewarded its practitioner with USD$55 million, and dominated the market returns for broadcast fees, live performances, retail record sales, commercial usage, media licensing, merchandise... the list goes on. Right on the cusp of 30-year reissues and the compact disc revolution, investor returns mushroomed. Finally securitised and no longer the subject of market whim, every fraction of every cent Bowie’s work generated was funnelled into a SPV (or Special Purpose Vehicle) that Moody’s Investor Services stamped with an impressive triple-A rating. In so doing, interest skyrocketed to 7.9 per cent, outstripping the American economy’s alltime record 6.37 per cent for USA Treasury Bonds. For the first time in human history, IP and innovation became the global economy’s strongest asset backing. The man who sold the world finally got to cash in. “Say a product is projected to have a low turnover,” Gardam explains to me. “If so, even a five per cent royalty return might not even keep that designer in coffee money. On the flip side, if the designer is only supplying a sketch on a high volume product, then five per cent might not be equitable.” Naturally, decision makers in our industry will always adore such licensing agreements: through piecemeal recompense, the licensee is able to circumvent the potential financial risks involved in lump sum payments for products that may (or, critically, may not) enjoy commercial success. And yet, Gardam is still right. A royalty is a financial reality for our industry. But non-secured and constantly variable, it needn’t be the only one, and the manufacturer needn’t be the only beneficiary. “What I do know,” he continues, “is, as an industry, we need more camaraderie between designers on the subject. We need to be aware that our small actions have larger flow-on effects.” After all, the stars are looking very different today.
Opposite: David Bowie, 1973. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive
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