Me: Kate Rhodes

Published:  August 18, 2011
Me: Kate Rhodes

Each month desktop asks a creative to write about their background, inspirations, mentors and views on design.

The creative director of the 2011 State of Design Festival, Kate Rhodes, is the former editor of Artichoke magazine and has taught in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT.

‘Design That Moves’ was the theme for the 2011 State of Design Festival in July. We were focused on the nomadic, the modular, the revolutionary, the transformative, the activating and what activates – it is all about motion and emotion in design. Lots of walks, rides, workshops, talks and exhibitions in spaces that ‘take us places’ like stairs, train platforms, corridors and bridges.

This is one of the best jobs ever, because I cook up ideas and then try to bring them into the world. The Festival is about raising awareness of the ways in which design can make Victoria (and the globe) better, greener and smarter. And we want to do this by getting people involved in a hands-on, mind-engaged way with design – in a discussion, a workshop or a walk, for example. We want to get our city talking about design, as well as celebrating it. One of the most enjoyable calls I made this week was about creating a One Night Only Festival Band to play on opening night.

Every dollar we spend is a vote. I believe we should be more conscious of those votes, particularly in that most everyday way: when we shop for what we put in our mouths and on our backs. I haven’t been to one of the big supermarkets for a year since reading Carolyn Steel’s great book Hungry City. I’m looking forward to her lecture and workshop when she’s here during the Festival and the discussions that her visit will raise. Imagine a daily farmers’ market along Swanston Street…

I work with really rocking people. The Festival staff is an amazing bunch and our creative producer, Dan Honey, is the most incredible person I’ve ever worked with – and that name! We wrote the Festival plan together months ago now and (at the time of writing) although we’re in the soup phase (where we live with organised chaos), we are heading towards the quilt – where everything comes together. It only works with lots of good heads around.

Cycling is one of the nicest things on the planet. I’ve been riding to work every day, rain, hail or shine for some time now. Being on two wheels is a whole new way to see and experience things, I like the micro conversations you have about bikes with strangers at a stop sign and the personal agency that cycling delivers. Plus, because I don’t pay a cent, it’s like getting free groceries each week. Sometimes, if I have to go to an event where I think I won’t know anyone, I’ll take my bike helmet in with me and soon enough I find someone to talk bikes with. I met two people at a party last week, who married after they started talking during an enormously long wait, on their bikes, at the traffic lights (PS I didn’t have my helmet with me then). Fashion-wise, cycling doesn’t require that much rethinking. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong outfit.

I grew up in country Victoria on a hobby farm, but I dreamed about living in a city. In fact, my daydreams centred on things like being able to read the back of a milk carton and walking on footpaths – stuff I didn’t have, and thought was deeply urban as a kid. Feeling like I was missing out made me very hungry for information and for images and I think I’m still fired up by that curiosity.

From desktop magazine.

Photography: Vlad Savin

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