Sydney Architecture Festival returns with new format
3 opportunities to take unique Sydney tours with leading architects

Exhibitions require lots of thought and pre-planning. They happen and then they are gone except for the ideas generated, contacts made and reaction to products on display. Sydney Indesign scored well with a strong program of workshops on Life Work Home Design and all points in between, a bevy of enthusiastic visitors sallying forth by foot or specially laid-on buses, to the products in showrooms across the city’s design hubs; organisers talked of 100 plus exhibitors and 300 plus brands.

The talks I went to (nowhere near as many as I would have liked to go to but timetabling was tight) discussed art design and architecture, with authentic collecting the most important thing, not just to impress or distract us but ideally to give life meaning; the Australian icon with oodles of personality yet ability to listen, empathise with the client, laced with pragmatism, Australian identity, relationships, knowledge, being organised, dealing with client preconceptions about design and with too restrictive planning rules in Sydney. An aim was to try to increase questioning about the value of design not just the doing of design.

In similar vein, at the future of the workplace Gijs Nooteboom of Veldhoen + Company, and Carol-Ann Pickvance of Hassell advocated the need to start with what the workplace should be, what the client wants to achieve as a basic right, and widening considerations from office layout. More post-occupancy evaluations would help, with technology to track how a space, or even chair, is being used, through to questioning whether occupancy is the best measure of a workplace. They advocated the blurring of occupancy spaces and opening up their ownership, providing big healthy comfortable cafes for more face-to-face communication and talking to your neighbour to solve issues.

I felt as if I copped out, spending most of my exhibition  time at the Galleria in the Locomotive Workshop at the Australian Technology Park, the slightly bleak walk from station to venue more than compensated by what awaited us inside. It was the Saturday afternoon and exhibitors were friendly and the range of products had many newbies, just or not yet being manufactured, so all the more reason to stay and chat.

There were 70 or so designer brands (for a good overview go to I am a bit preoccupied with flexible work and living, and found out about masses of different furniture, panels and lighting; all manner of chairs; mobile offices; compact, all-in-one components with cork board, shelf, footrest, storage and  stool; a lightweight briefcase, allowing you to carry your office around in compartmentalised bags on wheels. There was ergonomic furniture for children and teenagers; and sugar-cane briefcases with indentations for logos.

Launch Pad winner, the BB-liney super-serviceable coat rack, with different hooks on shelves that rested against a wall and are easy for renters to move from place to place, was similar to the home-focus of another display, Workshopped 15, at Moore Park Shopping centre. Designers favoured steel, timber, bronze, plywood, aluminium, concrete, all in clean lines, assembled and disassembled where appropriate, and clever concealed storage for the home (and home-office). With only a sign saying, Please do not touch, remarkably no one was touching. Most of the items would fit well into inner-city apartments though a couple of the tables would probably take up the whole of a living room.