MPavilion returns to enliven the City this Summer

MPavilion-Architect-render-of-The-LightCatcherAs Melbourne’s streets awaken and its cultural pulse returns, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation is proud to unveil the 2021 MPavilion program – with Australia’s leading architecture and design event offering over 250 free events for its eighth season.

Marking MPavilion’s longest-ever season, the 2021 program will span 152 days and welcome design minds from around Australia and across the globe, in a celebration of the important contribution of design in our city’s cultural landscape.

Designed by MAP studio (Venice), this year’s pavilion entitled The LightCatcher will take pride of place in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens from Thursday 2 December until Saturday 24 April 2022, with an online program to wet the palate from Tuesday 23 November.

As Melbourne enthusiastically springs back to life, MPavilion will play a key role in supporting Melbourne’s creative community and revitalising the city with talks, workshops, performances, family-friendly activities, community projects, and installations throughout the summer for its most expansive season yet.

Each month of MPavilion 2021 will centre on a different theme comprising of:

  • Island Life (November)
  • That Which Makes Things Visible (December)
  • Vacation, Location, Staycation (January)
  • Rituals: Marking Life (February)
  • Design as a Human Right (March)
  • The Reality of this Time (April)

“Following two years of uncertainty, MPavilion 2021 provides an optimistic beacon of post-pandemic recovery for the creative life of our city,” said Naomi Milgrom AC, founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

“MAP studio’s MPavilion will bring the community together and renew connection in a safe environment for our first season back in the Queen Victoria Gardens.”

“Driven by our mission to champion architecture and design, our partnership with MAP and the diversity of this year’s program promises to reinvigorate the dialogue between Melbourne and the rest of the world,” said Milgrom.

Bringing together over 500 guests from across Australia and around the world, MPavilion 2021 will feature special talks and events with international guests such as Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel from MAP studio (Venice) in conversation with much-loved Grand Designs Australia host and architect Peter Maddison; artist of Feral Trade Kate Rich (UK); globally renowned design collective Space Saloon; Stockholm-based architecture office Secretary; Venice Studio Melbourne with Melbourne School of Design (MSD), and a host of internationally lauded architects.

Celebrated locals will also lead an expansive schedule of events and workshops, including opening weekend celebrations with Melbourne Music Week, and the inimitable soprano, composer and proud Yorta Yorta woman, Deborah Cheetham AO.

To close the season in April, there will be a special MPavilion wedding day, where three lucky couples whose weddings were affected by Melbourne’s lockdowns will be selected to tie the knot inside the pavilion.

This year’s MProjects – a series of unique creations and residencies for MPavilion—include the inaugural Melbourne launch of Skywhalepapa, the giant hot-air-balloon sculpture by Australia’s renowned visual artist, Patricia Piccinini, which will fly over the city of Melbourne; the M_Curators mentoring experience for ten emerging curators aged 15 to 25; a spatial design installation by Secretary Project; the fifth outing of BLAKitecture: The Manifesto, a three-day forum on Indigenous architecture.

And MMeets – The Salon: Designing the Self, featuring a series of events on all aspects of the salon from intimacy and emotions, to the politics of beauty, to the important role design can play in the salon and will include a free pop-up nail bar.

Further promoting Australian design, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation is supporting three key commissions this summer. Melbourne-based fashion designer Erik Yvon has designed this year’s staff uniform, drawing inspiration from his Mauritian heritage and the November program theme Island Life.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Nüüd Studio, led by designers Bradley Mitchell and Kerli Valk, won the MPavilion 2021 chair commission with their design The Dancer; while Castlemaine-based furniture design studio, Like Butter, has designed a periscope-inspired feature seating installation in collaboration with Melbourne’s MUSK Architecture Studio for MPavilion in January.

Other highlights include DJ 101 with DJ Sarah, a program that takes eight emerging female-identifying, trans and non-binary DJs through basic skills over six weeks with a live group show at MPavilion at the end of their course to celebrate; a fashion show with new fashion collective Outwst; a weekend of events curated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander not-for-profit organisation Agency Projects, architect, writer and educator Tania Davidge, Samantha Donnelly and Sophie Dyring on public housing for women; and a series of talks and DJ sessions that celebrate the nightclub as a space for culture, design and expression with DJ and the ‘unofficial Night Mayor of Melbourne’ Andee Frost.

Other highlights include collaborations with Melbourne Fringe, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), TarraWarra Museum of Art, Australian Tapestry Workshop and Melbourne Theatre Company.

In keeping with a year of postponed plans, MPavilion 2021 digital programming will launch on Tuesday 23 November with the theme Island Life, featuring a series of online talks in the lead-up to the physical space opening on Thursday 2 December.

Digital talks worth streaming while on a walk or lounging in Queen Victoria Gardens include MTalks – MAP studio in conversation with Naomi Milgrom AC and Peter Maddison, a podcast with the 2021 architects on their design of MPavilion; MTalks – Mirnungumayimanha, a podcast with Perth-based designer and researcher Jack Mitchell who speaks with Elders based in Western Australia to discuss the cultural importance of waterways and island life; and MTalks – Feral Trade: A Global Trade of Goods by Hand, which will explore UK artist Kate Rich’s project Feral Trade, a public experiment in trading goods through active social networks.

The theme That Which Makes Things Visible sets the tone for December, with a new composition commission for MPavilion 2021 by Deborah Cheetham AO, Galnya Yakarrumdja – providing a meditative morning ritual to open MPavilion for the month.

The opening weekend will feature Melbourne Music Week with specifically curated shows featuring emerging and renowned talent from the burgeoning Melbourne music scene in an amalgamation of sound, community, music, and dance. DJ 101 – a six week DJ program for aspiring female-identifying, trans, and non-binary talent looking to break into the dance music scene.

In collaboration with TarraWarra Museum of Art, MKids – Imagine an Island invites kids aged between 6 – 12 years to join the museum’s artist educators for a morning to create their own little slice of island heaven with repurposed materials.

January looks at the theme Vacation, Location, Staycation and opens with the launch of  The Zorro Chair – a collaboration between architect Hannes McNamara (MUSK Architecture Studio) and furniture designer Jem Freeman (Like Butter). The chair installation has been designed with the intention of extending the light manipulation and reflection of the MPavilion down to the ground level.

MMeets – Venice Studio Melbourne is a much-anticipated online event for the architecture community facilitated by Melbourne School of Design where MAP studio will identify five sites around the city of Venice, challenging teams of invited architects and students to develop and deliver a design project for each site.

School holiday activities for children include MKids – Sustainability workshop with CERES, where kids can learn about the basics of sustainability over two days; and MKids – Journey to West Africa, which will take children on a journey through West African musical culture, learning about traditional instruments, songs and dance.

February’s theme, Rituals: Marking Life focuses on how we interpret rituals in daily life. MMusic – The Wall Remix – a musical reading reinterprets Pink Floyd’s iconic 1979 rock opera The Wall through an Indigenous lens with author Monique Grbec.

MMeets – Agency Projects presents UNTOLD: Marking Life, Indigenous reflections on continuing/maintaining/living rituals is a weekend of events curated by Melbourne-based Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander advocacy organisation Agency Projects that is dedicated to the visibility and celebration of Indigenous knowledge, artistic practices and excellence.

Gomeroi astrophysicist and host of 3RRR program Indigenuity Krystal de Napoli will host MTalks – Indigenous Knowledges – a talk about the ancient practice and knowledge of astronomy within Indigenous Australian Nations.

As autumn in Melbourne sets in, MPavilion explores Design as a Human Right. The MTalks – Designing the Nightclub series will explore how nightclubs have influenced fashion, design, youth subcultures and the city’s nightlife.

The fifth series of BLAKitecture will focus on Indigenising education, asking the question: as architecture curriculum changes, how can the wisdom of Indigenous culture become a mandatory part of university education? This three-day summit will include comments from a range of universities, architecture studios, government bodies and international practices.

A series of events MMeets – The Salon: Designing the Self will delve into a range of topics from intimacy and emotion in the salon to the politics of beauty, to the important role design can play in the salon as a space.

April’s theme The Reality of this Time will close the season, with more events announced at a later date.

The MPavilion 2021 digital program will run from 23 November to 1 December. MPavilion 2021 physical space will be open to the public from 2 December to 24 April 2022. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Architect render of The LightCatcher – courtesy of MPavilion