As Melbourne skies turn grey and the temperature drops to a high of 7 degrees, it’s clear to all of us in the southern states that winter is well and truly here. But for the designers and design enthusiasts among us, Melbourne’s winter comes with more than a glimmer of light in the form of DENFAIR. Now in its fifth year, DENFAIR is Australia’s leading trade fair for contemporary design. With the latest ranges by Australian and international architects, furniture designers and product designers, DENFAIR has become a must attended event for those at the forefront of design.
This year at DENFAIR there was a clear through line between the exhibitors: functional design. Now, if you’ve ever read an article from me about anything design related, you’ll know a combination of functionality and form is both something I highly value but also mention, like, a lot. But this year’s DENFAIR was different. While there was a vast array of exquisitely designed furniture, in my opinion, the highlights of the fair weren’t furniture at all. Instead they were the far more innocuous items that are essential in our day-to-day lives. Sinks, fittings, carpet, masonry. These are the pieces that, quite literally, are the building blocks of the spaces we design. And these were the products that really stole the show at this years DENFAIR. Practically designed, aesthetically appealing, functional necessities.
While I could continue rambling for the rest of eternity about how important practical design is, instead I will give you what you came here for; my four favourites from DENFAIR 2019.
Nood & Co – WA
First off is Nood & Co the brand that breathes life into concrete. Based in Perth, Nood & Co’s concrete furniture is 100% manufactured in Australia. While the brand has been around for some time, their display of their 2019 concrete sink range at this year’s DENFAIR was truly a sight to behold. With a colour pallet ranging from two-tone pastel pinks through to deep blues, Nood & Co have redefined the connotations of concrete with this range. What’s better still is Nood & Co’s commitment to environmentally conscious design. With a focus on sustainability in the manufacturing process, their high-performance concrete uses 96% less energy than its ceramic equivalent.
INDE – NSW
Next up is INDE, the Australian furniture brand that combines the convenience of Scandinavian design with the craftsmanship of Japanese furniture making and the aesthetic of modern Australian design. Made in Australia, the latest range from INDE uses a jigsaw-like joining process to ensure their furniture can be flat packed and moved from space to space. At DENFAIR they were predominately displaying their shelving units which were clean and crisp but not lacking detail. The lines of the high-quality plywood echoed the line of the shelves and the jigsaw joins made for an added aesthetic detail as well as a practical necessity.
Cubic Products – VIC
When most people think of breeze blocks, high-end, modern design is not normally the first thought that comes to mind. Enter Cubic Products, the masonry company revitalising and modernising the humble breeze block. Cubic Products’ designs are truly versatile, from geometric white designs that would blend in perfectly among the palm trees in the Californian desert, to the circular grey concrete breeze blocks which could become the focal point in a piece of brutalist architecture. Encompassing the absolute epitome of design with purpose, Cubic Products was a true highlight of this year’s DENFAIR.
The Local Project – NSW
Last but definitely not least, and my personal favourite at this year’s DENFAIR, is The Local Project. Starting off as an online publication and Instagram account in 2016 and growing to an online market place and hub for Australian design, Australian design journal, The Local Project, launched their first print issue at this year’s DENFAIR. The magazine which focuses on human-centred design, highlights the diversity and necessity of functionality and form. But content aside, The Local Project issue 1 itself is a supremely designed artefact. Boasting over 200 pages on natural, textured paper, The Local Project issue 1 is a truly tactical design experience that you can take home with you.