• Chris Goff, Uragaeshi Chair
    Chris Goff, Uragaeshi Chair

Students, graduates and academics from the Industrial Design and Furniture Design programs at RMIT University have taken home every award at the Fringe Furniture forum.

The open-access event, held by the Melbourne Fringe, displayed more than 90 furniture, lighting and interior object designs from local emerging and established designers under the theme of Living Traces.

All five award winners in 2014 came from the RMIT industrial and furniture design community.

Sydney-based Industrial Design graduate Max Harper won the Sustainable and Waste-Wise Design Award while sessional lecturer Jonathan Ben-Tovim, of Northcote, won the Best Lighting Design Award.

Fitzroy resident Chris Goff, a Furniture Design and Industrial Design graduate, said winning the Emerging Designer Award for his piece “Uragaeshi” chair was an honour.

“It’s always great being involved in industry events because it gives you a chance to meet other designers and make connections with people,” Mr Goff said.

Industrial Design (Honours) student Jonathan Ho, of Southbank, was awarded the Most Market Ready Design Award while Furniture Design student Mechelle Shooter, of Carlton North, received the Best Student Design award.

Ms Shooter said her studies at RMIT had been invaluable in giving her an understanding of industry processes and developing her design style.

“It’s been a great way for me to meet other inspiring design students, with whom I hope to collaborate with in future projects,” she said.

Liam Fennessy, Industrial Design Program Manager, said RMIT’s success was a testament to the quality of its industrial and furniture design programs and staff.

“We’re really lucky to have Fringe Furniture as an avenue for designers to explore and showcase their ideas in a forum that is inclusive of seasoned professionals and students alike,” Mr Fennessy said.

Fringe Furniture is at the Abbotsford Convent until Sunday, 5 October.

More info about RMIT courses www.rmit.edu.au

Below: Chris Goff's Uragaeshi chair (uragaeshi - ??? - reverse, inside out or upside down) was designed as an RMIT Industrial Design honours project in 2013. The concept came about in response to a study conducted into consumer psychology relating to flat pack furniture. The study found that the build process of most commercially available products is often tedious due to the nature of materials and fixings, and the finished items tend to feel cheap and temporary. The Uragaeshi chair seeks to stimulate a deeper connection between the user and artefact by treating the process of assembly as an experience, rather than a necessity.

The designer drew influence from traditional Japanese joinery and the art of spatial puzzle, attempting to involve the end user in the chair's construction in a way that they would feel like a part of it's story. This relationship creates a connection with the object that transcends the usual experience of self-assembly.

Below: Mechelle Shooter's Monkey Bars was developed over several months in response to a Traditional Industry brief that required a piece to be made specifically for hallways, and to incorporate an element of my chosen traditional industry, ceramics. Being constantly inspired by nature, the ceramic element has been handcrafted to function as a planter, an ideal way to bring plant life indoors and improve air quality. I wanted to design a piece that is versatile in its use and elegant in its presentation. The sliding element provides hidden storage that can be utilised to hide clutter or hold precious items safe, and the legs have been designed so they can be removed for flat-pack ability so Monkey Bars can be easily shipped, stored or moved. Bamboo has been used in the construction of the tabletop to highlight the necessity of using renewable and sustainable materials in design now. 

Monkey Bars is made from Carbonised narrow grain bamboo, bright steel bar, semi bright steel sheet and ceramics. The natural oil and powder coat finishes have been chosen for their zero to near zero VOC off gassing for human health.

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