Finalist 2022

EVERYDAY Australian Design - functional objects from the Ian Wong collection

Ian Wong / Jo Pritchard / Dr Indae Hwang / Shepparton Art Museum / Monash University

EVERYDAY Australian Design is an exhibition of objects from the Ian Wong Collection that celebrate Australian daily life and culture.

An inaugural exhibition at the new Shepparton Art Museum, EVERYDAY Australian Design is an exhibition of objects from the Ian Wong Collection that celebrate Australian daily life and our culture. Many of these familiar objects, from the 1880s to the present day, have become icons of a particular time. They provide insights into our everyday lives — the glasses we drink from, pans for cooking, the electric toasters and kettles in the kitchen or the iconic esky full of ice for a picnic — these are items we use at home and while at leisure with our family and friends.

This project was designed and commissioned by:

Design Process

Preliminary concepts were developed around connections to Shepparton, Lake Victoria and Australian manufacturing and lifestyle. It was vital that the final installation was accessible and engaging to a cross generational audience. Complex narratives about innovation or manufacturing processes, connections to lifestyle and chronological object displays were explored but deemed to lack simplicity and a capacity to engage. The design solution of color blocking and mass display evolved as a response to the double sided glass display cases and the impact of color from the many plastic objects in the collection. Stored in Shepparton it was possible to deploy a process of one to one prototyping with the objects from the collection.

This design process allowed for solutions to the functional design constraints of how objects would be secured and presented to the viewer as well as exploring color blending and clusters that delivered visual impact. Proportion, scale, orientation, and the precise and considered visual relationships between each objects form were refined as each set of objects were finalised. Curatorial decisions on inclusion of an individual designers work or examples of objects across a historical timeline were balanced with exhibition design decisions on sets of one object or multiples of one object across the range of colors. Prior to installation all color sets were tested for viewing angles, ease of installation and structural stability. The design process ensured a very efficient install time into the single sided glass cases.. Only 16 hrs was required to install over 850 objects in nine color sets and up to 4m above the floor.

Design Excellence

Good design is inclusive and the final installation for EVERYDAY Australian Design exceeded all expectations as an inclusive and engaging work. Good design is accessible. The installation is cross generational and first engages with the familiar and then invites further rich discovery. On many occasions grandparents, parents and children were exploring the history of Australian design together with joy and celebration. A new color, and new object sparked conversations and shared memories of our culture and society.

Good design is about simplicity, less is more, and the inspired design solution of color blocking of the installation demonstrated how good design can present very complex narratives for over 850 objects all designed in Australia in the most simple and delightful way. The user interface for the app was intuitive and inclusive and allowed for engagement at the basic label level or provided richer content if the visitor was engaged and desired more detail. The app worked off site as an enduring record of the project.

Design Innovation

The color blocked display was a novel and inclusive approach to presenting the history of industrial design in Australia. Like the boldness of the color in our natural Australian landscape this massing of objects in beige, black, orange, green, red, blue, brown, white and yellow enticed the audience to explore the app and learn more about the designers and the innovative products they designed that have changed the world.

Design Impact

EVERYDAY Australian Design at SAM proved to be a most popular installation as part of the opening program for the new Shepparton Art Museum. Visitors delighted in the discovery of familiar objects from the past and enjoyed sharing stories with friends and family as they explored each color section. The design concept was effective in achieving the outcome of more visitors to the entire SAM program from those who only planned to visit the Cafe. The striking color display attracted all who visited the cafe and the content inspired further investigation.

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