Fringe Furniture 32 – breaking records (not furniture!) in its 32nd year

Fringe Furniture is back for its 32nd year, as an open-access and cutting-edge exhibition that pushes the boundaries of design. The exhibition will be held at Abbotsford Convent from Thursday 13th September until Sunday 30th September during the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

This year’s exhibition is set to be a record breaker, with more pieces exhibited (over 160), more female-identifying and non-binary designers represented (38%) and a wide range of public programs such as design talks, artists tours and tactile tours.

Visitors will see pieces of contemporary and experimental furniture, lighting, homewares and other design objects spilling out of the convents stunning heritage listed Rosina Auditorium and into other spaces, including backstage of the auditorium and other places visitors to the convent do not usually see. For Kristina Arnott, Melbourne Fringe Creative Projects Coordinator adapting quickly to the volume of pieces was imperative.

“Our exhibition design team have responded really creatively to the challenge, and visitors will now get to enjoy exploring some spaces at the Abbotsford Convent they normally might not get to see. There’ll also be a few surprises in those backstage spaces to make it worth the journey!”.

Thanks to the brand-new Fringe Furniture for Gender Equality initiative generously supported by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, this year’s exhibition also features more female-identifying designers than ever previously recorded. Fringe Furniture is committed to actively supporting gender equality in the design sector, and this year all female-identifying and non-binary designers’ registrations were discounted by 15.3%, which is the current gender pay gap in Australia. Fringe has seen a big increase in participation from this group, with 38% of designers exhibiting this year identifying as female or non-binary compared with just 28% in 2017.

Highlights from female-identifying exhibitors include Fran White’s VaryVases, a family of mass-customised vase objects, which won the Award for Concept Design at the 2018 VIVID Design Competition. VaryVases combine the personalisation of custom-made products with the efficiencies of mass-production, and are customised using parametric modelling software.

University of Melbourne Master of Architecture student Kristen Wang will exhibit her innovative Re.Bean Coffee Stool. In her studies and research, Wang is exploring design solutions to reutilise coffee ground waste and transform it into biodegradable furniture.

Eugenie Kawabata, an independent, Melbourne based maker designer and four-time Fringe Furniture participant is this year exhibiting her Fold – Karijini series; a pair of side tables which explore the unique colours of the Australian interior landscape. Eugenie has been a finalist in the Vivid Design Award 2014-2018 and the Alessi Design Award 2015.

Fringe’s usual Fringe Furniture 32 will be also be bigger than ever this year, expanding to include three Artist-led Tours, two Tactile Tours, and a talk by special guest Anne-Maree Sargeant, Director of the Authentic Design Alliance, a design industry leader. Sargeant will speak about how her career took her from studying interior design to design writing, curating and consultancy, as well as the importance of authenticity and the prevalence of design theft and “replica” culture in Australia.

Fringe Furniture is a standout showcase of market ready and experimental design. It has provided a platform for artists and designers to exhibit their work for 32 years, making it one of the longest design events in Australia.

Fringe Furniture 32
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Abbotsford Convent, Rosina Auditorium
1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Public programs:
Sat 15 Sept, 1pm-2pm Anne-Maree Sargeant chats design, knock-offs and authenticity
Wed 19 Sept & Sat 29 Sept, 11am-12.30pm Tactile Tours
Sun 16 Sept, Sun 23 Sept & Sun 30 Sept, 3pm-4pm Artist-led Tours