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Under the theme Call to Action, the 20th edition of the Sydney Design Festival is exploring what role does design play in tackling complex global issues until March 11. Presented by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), the festival offers a wide range of activities that includes more than one hundred workshops, exhibitions, tours, installations, and talks. 

Design is a crucial part of our everyday life, even though we don’t notice it. And festivals that celebrate it in all its forms are increasingly important, since it helps solve the problems we face as society as well as showcasing its beauty, functionality and artistry. For the twentieth anniversary of Sydney’s major festival, we present you what five events you can’t miss. 

Common Good at Powerhouse Museum

This is probably one of the most remarkable shows in the festival, since it’s a sort of survey exploring the scene of contemporary design in the Asia-Pacific region. Showcasing works by designers such as Lucy McRae, Studio Swine, Jo Nagasaka and Bijoy Jain, the exhibition focuses on projects that try to give answers to social, ethical and environmental challenges. On March 10, Join Keinton Butler, MAAS Senior Curator, will offer a guided tour while explaining the exhibition from the inside. But if you don’t have the time to visit it while the festival is on, don’t worry, it’ll be on view until December.

Carine Thévenau & Benja Harney at Koskela Gallery

Photos of abandoned Japanese playgrounds covered in snow and paper sculptures will create a dialogue at Koskela Gallery from March 10 to April 18. Featuring the works of Mauritian/Australian photographer Carine Thévenau and paper engineer Benja Harney, the exhibition will explore themes like ecology, sustainability, and respect for the public spaces.

40 years of faboloursness at Powerhouse Museum

The Sydney Mardi Gras is one of the most renowned events of the city, which fights for the LGBTQ+ community’s rights while celebrating free love, unity and equality. Jeweller Peter Tully and costume-maker Brenton Heath-Kerr were key figures in this celebration, and became extremely known and influential with their over-the-top designs. This exhibition, held at Powerhouse Museum, celebrates the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras by showcasing the most daring, flamboyant and unique designs by Tully and Heath-Kerr.

Nexus: Design/Craft/Innovation

On March 7, the Powerhouse Museum hosts this talk about craftsmanship and its vital role in design. From 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm, a group of thinkers, designers, practitioners and writers will discuss about three intertwined themes: design, craft, and innovation. The experts panel will be formed by Stephen Varady, architect, designer and educator; Dr Zoë Veness, a designer-maker whose main interests are objects and jewellery; Dr Sam Spurr, a theorist and designer; Anna Lise De Lorenzo, founding director of &company, Sydney’s first public workshop for makers; and Dr Mark Ian Jones, the current Deputy Head of School (Design) at UNSW Art & Design.

Ceramic mugs not plastic waste!

Almost every adult drinks coffee. Why? Well, we’re not getting into that. But what the festival is concerned about is how many disposable mugs go into bins – in Parramatta (a neighbourhood of the city) alone, over thirty thousand each week. So you can start figuring out how many more are thrown each hour, day and week around the world. In this fun and and interesting workshop, attendants will create their own ceramic mugs with high fire clay, using a slip casting method. The final pieces will be ready after three weeks, so there’s no excuse to generate more waste after that!
The Sydney Design Festival will take place in different locations of Sydney until March 11.

Arnau Salvadó

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