Melbourne Design Week Announces 2019 Program

Melbourne Design WeekIn 2019, Australia’s leading annual international design, Melbourne Design Week, will present its largest program to date, with more than 200 events including 47 exhibitions, 14 film screenings, 77 talks, 22 tours and 18 workshops across Melbourne and – for the very first time – Geelong from 14 – 24 March 2019.

Celebrating the best of local, national and international design, the expanding, state-wide festival is an initiative of the Victorian Government presented by Creative Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria.

From Yarra River boat tours showcasing long-held aspirations for Melbourne’s waterways, to keynote addresses from major international speakers, including internationally renowned Turkish-born digital media artist Refik Anadol, British design and architecture critic Oliver Wainwright and Jing Liu, an architect, educator and co-founder of the award-winning design firm SO-IL in New York City, the diverse program explores the central theme of Design Experiments, which asks the question ‘How can design shape the future?’.

Melbourne Design Week 2019 highlights include:

A major keynote address by LA-based media artist Refik Anadol who is best known for creating visually stunning and immersive digital experiences using advanced methods of visual design, data compression, algorithmic processing and machine learning. In this talk, presented exclusively by Telstra and the NGV, Anadol will examine how machine intelligence is reshaping the world around him.

For 2019, Melbourne Design Week celebrates the Birrarung (Yarra River) and asks Melbournians to reconsider and reconnect with the river that runs through this city. Offering unique experiences and insights into this winding watercourse, Open House Melbourne presents Waterfront – a program of conversations, boat tours and special events that deep dive into the role design plays in reframing Melbourne’s relationship with water.

The Victorian Design Challenge invites design professionals and students to tackle one of the great challenges of our time – waste. The Challenge aims to inspire impactful and implementable solutions that demonstrate the value of design and creativity to the creation of a better future. Craig Reucassel from ABC’s War on Waste leads this year’s Challenge jury that will determine who will be crowned Waste Challenge Champions.

Cities and the systems that sustain them – food, water, and energy – are major factors in climate change and the interlinked cycles of waste and pollution. This high-energy, provocative symposium brings together local and international experts to examine the challenges of the urban environment and to ask how we might build cleaner, healthier, more resilient cities, confronting the systemic problems that are poisoning them in the first place.

Speakers include Daan Roosegaarde, Dutch artist and founder of Studio Roosegaarde; Somini Sengupta, George Polk Award-winning journalist and international climate reporter for The New York Times; and local speakers including eco-innovator Joost Bakker, and Bonnie Herring of Breath Architecture.

Plates made from lettuce, jewellery boxes from blood or furniture made from coffee? Welcome to Wasteland is an exhibition that asks if you can see these items, created from everyday waste, in your everyday life. Contributors include: Ash Allen; Jonathan Ben-Tovim; Christopher Boots; Sarah Ceravolo; Adam Cornish; Thomas Coward and Nick Rennie; Ben Edwards; TomFereday and Ryan McGoldrick; Adam Markovitz; Liane Rossler and Kate Dunn; Maddison Ryder; Andrew Simpson; U-P; Anna Varendorff; Kristen Wang and many more.

This exhibition asks ‘Where do the materials of design come from? Curated by Guy Keulemans, Designwork 03: The Supply Chain brings together leading Australian experimental designers to question the dominant approach to material expression, demonstrating the capacities of creative disruption within contemporary supply chains, both local and global. This is the third exhibition in an ongoing series dedicated to presenting the best contemporary Australian design at Sophie Gannon Gallery.

Somewhere Other – an immersive installation first presented for the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2018, invites visitors to NGV Australia to look through a series of portals that will transport them to different spaces and places, to frame views and establish connections between buildings and their context.

Returning for its fifth year, the annual Melbourne Art Book Fair, will host an array of industry talks from eminent international and Australian guests, including Brooklyn-based creative studio Tunica and Berlin-based magazine publisher Girls Like Us.

The three-day fair celebrates local and international publishing, inviting guests to enjoy keynote lectures, workshops, a full-day symposium as well as a marketplace of art displays and bookstalls showcasing the best art, design, architecture and fashion publishers worldwide. The $15,000 Cornish Family Prize Art and Design Publishing, the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region, will also be awarded at the Fair.

The program has been curated under five thematic pillars known as Design Routes: Reconnecting with Birrarung – a programming stream presented by Open House Melbourne that explores how we can reconnect with the Yarra River; The War on Waste – which reveals that ways in which design can impact the environment; Materials – which looks at how designers are thinking about where materials come from and where they will end up; Possible Futures – which explores the ways in which design informs our quality of life – from products and services to transport and health; and Inclusive Cities – a series that interrogates the role of design in redressing the problems of the city and proposing new ways realise our urban realm.

“Now in its third year, Melbourne Design Week presents the largest and most robust program to date, with an absorbing and enlightening range of programs on offer,” said NGV Director Tony Ellwood AM. “With a focus on our city and our surrounding environment, Victorians will have the opportunity to experience pioneering design concepts, hear from world-leading experts and encounter cutting-edge technologies that will help us all consider new and innovative possibilities for the future of our state.”

Melbourne Design Week expands to Geelong in 2019 to showcase the fact that the city has recently been recognised as a UNESCO City of Design. More than twenty events during Design Week will aggregate the aspirations and agitators of Geelong’s creative community and provide an opportunity for all Victorians to discover the depth of design the city has to offer.

Highlights include a keynote address by Danish Design Centre chief executive Christian Bason, outlining the ways in which design can strengthen regional towns and cities; a lecture by Melbourne based designer Dale Hardiman discussing how not being an expert in a field can often lead to inventive outcomes and Bauhaus Centenary: Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack at Geelong Art Gallery, an exhibition of works by Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack from the Geelong Gallery collection  resented during the centenary of the influential Bauhaus school.

Melbourne Design Week 2019 exhibitions, events, talks and workshops will be held at NGV International, NGV Australia and partner venues across Melbourne, Geelong and Victoria from 14 – 24 March 2019. For more information and full program, visit: For more information about the Melbourne Art Book Fair, visit: for details.

Image: Reframing Fisherman’s Bend – photo courtesy of Open House Melbourne