Each month desktop ask six creatives a design-related question.
This month’s question: London’s Design Museum has been going strong for over 20 years. Is there a need for a permanent dedicated Australian design museum?
This month we asked Andrew Ashton, Dr Dawn Casey, Laura Cornhill, Lucy Feagins, Yianni Hill and Sarah K to comment.
Studio Pip and Co.
For several decades Australia has had an institutional and cultural design presence. Australia has had a design centre, it has design shops, it has design markets, it has design schools, it has festivals, it has professional bodies, it has radio shows, it has sections in government funded galleries and museums, and mainstream editorial – all devoted to design. If all of these design initiatives were crowd stoppers, there wouldn’t be a need to endlessly respond to yours and similar questions.
If Australia had a dedicated design museum opening today, I would confidently guess that people would not come and eventually it would be converted into something else in 12 months – potentially a BBQ Academy.
Why? Unlike the UK, US, Japan, Holland, Germany, Italy and France, the essence of Australian cultural identity doesn’t strongly identify with creativity, design and craft as vital part of it’s cultural identity. If our governments, celebrities made an effort to seek out, support and participate in Australian creative people and their efforts, then maybe an interested public will follow.
Think of a recent Prime Minister interested in the Arts. Name a date when an AFL final, major cooking show, or a government election or debate were on the same day. Name an Australian international act that found international success in Australia. If Australians foster and embrace its creativity, design and craft culture, there will be more than dedicated design museums to contend with.
Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA
In the last decade we’ve become more aware of the importance of design in addressing the challenges communities face. Design can address social innovation and sustainable development, themes as diverse as sustainable production and consumption, responsible development and responses to natural disasters. It’s about enabling a more informed community, and achieving long term behaviour change. These challenges are best addressed by institutions which interpret these themes in a broader context. I prefer to see design presented in a context of scientific, technological and social innovation, rather than ‘quarantined’ in an institution with a perspective of design as a discipline.
I kind of like the way that design exists outside of museums. I like the way it’s part of a living, functioning world – out in the open for everyone to see and use every day. In this sense, I think it makes design accessible and democratic – and not overly precious. That said though, I probably wouldn’t start a protest movement with yellow ribbons and a rhyming chant if they decided to build a permanent design museum in Melbourne.
Interiors stylist/design blogger
The Design Files
There will always be classic design pieces that are culturally significant and deserve to be celebrated and archived; however, I tend to think that contemporary design doesn’t usually work in a ‘museum’ context. Good design isn’t precious – it’s functional, efficient, beautiful and made for daily use! I am not sure of the value of a dedicated Australian design museum. More industry support to assist in local manufacturing and retailing would perhaps hold greater value for Australian designers. After all, the real design museums of today are retail shops, residential homes and public places.
Design is inherent in many cultures around the world, yet its importance is less understood in Australian society. This is despite many Australian designers being at the international forefront of their fields. A dedicated Australian design museum would present design to a new audience and educate about the significant role design has, does play and will continue to play in Australia. By capturing and documenting the work of Australian designers otherwise being lost to history, such a museum would help elevate design’s standing and move us further towards having design seen as an integral part of Australian culture.
The sooner the better. We most definitely have enough historically worthwhile design to fill a museum, not to mention a plethora of engaging new work being produced. A national design museum would give a much needed institutional perspective on the Australian design industry, acknowledging it and encouraging growth. The more the public can be exposed to good local design, the less likely we are to see a market full of international designer knock-offs made in China. I also believe that current design movements are giving the art world a run for its money, and boundaries are blurring
between the two.
From desktop magazine.