Fringe Furniture 2013 Delivers a Fresh Burst of Design Imagination

Melbourne's Fringe Furniture exhibition, part of the annual Fringe Festival, is famous for its fresh, inventive and cheeky attitude. This year's theme was 'Make it true', a call to bring imaginative ideas to life. Many entries combine artistic flair with unexpected uses of recycled materials. I popped in last weekend and took some pics.

Fringe Furniture has become an iconic Melbourne event. Established in 1986, it showcases the work of some of the country's most exciting emerging designers. It is entirely open access and includes an awards program and a mentor program. Its home in recent years has been the Abbotsford Convent  a trip to this artistic hub is an outing in itself.

The standout exhibit for me was the scary chair pictured above. Made from a recycled piano and plumbing fittings, with lighting coming from open mouths on curved tentacles, it has an uncanny touch of the Addams Family about it. Titled 'The festering', it was indeed inspired by Uncle Fester, who would power lightglobes by putting them into his mouth. It's the brainchild of Amanda Gibson and Peter Drofenik.

A very different kind of seating (and colour scheme) can be seen in this comfy looking bench by Celine Huggins. Its materials include food cans and synthetic ply towelling and the slats are pool noodles, no less.

The piece below is the very definition of conceptual elegance. By Adam Raphael Markowitz, it's called the Möbius Chair and is made from laminated birch plywood.

The uncanny crops up again in  'Fledgling', a striking light shade made from ostrich feathers, stainless steel and rusted steel. It's by designer Alex Sanson.

Why hasn't someone thought to combine the chair and the sleeping bag (or is it a windcheater) before? The result is an invitation to withdraw into domestic comfort. This design, 'Cocoon', is by Evan Mery.

I loved the bold yet natural colour shades on this coffee table, which is made from a salvaged pallet, with a base of black zinc steel. It's by Marcus O'Reilly and is fittingly titled 'Palletto to pallete'.

Here's a close-up of the surface.

The flash photo below doesn't fully convey the charm of this next piece, which has a 'steampunk' feel. Known as 'Jacklight', it was made from mixed materials by Donna Kirkwood and Patrick Neil at Zom8ie.

This trio of a stool and two tables had a pleasing spidery feel and an earthy asethetic. Created by Christopher Herman, the tops are Australian limestone and the legs are corten steel.

The striking light shades below are porcelain designs from Colin Hopkins's Porcelume collection, created in his studio at the Abbotsford Convent. Hopkins's delicate, translucent designs are hand thrown on a potters wheel and then etched by hand, creating a shimmering feel. 

These are only a few of the almost 100 pieces in the Fringe Furniture exhibition, which runs until 6 October. Opening hours are Wed – Sun, 11 am – 5 pm. It's at the Abbotsford Convent, 16 St Heliers St Abbotsford. It's well worth a look if you're in Melbourne  stroll around the convent grounds afterwards, and have a cuppa in one of the cafes.

Until next time!

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