Finalist 2023

Design Wall 2023

National Gallery of Victoria / Hassell, Melbourne

An installation design showcasing product design from Melbourne, Design Wall 2023 was presented as part of NGV's exhibition Melbourne Now.

Presented by the National Gallery of Victoria for the Melbourne Now exhibition, Design Wall 2023 showcased innovative consumer product design from Melbourne. Representing thirty-five projects from the past decade by twenty-five design studios the installation brought together designers, manufacturers, and brands, designing homeware, healthcare, trade, sporting and lifestyle products. On display 24 March – 20 August, at NGV Australia, the NGV and Hassell collaborated on the twelve metre wide, floor-to-ceiling installation design. Displaying products in multiples, the installation amassed 1,700 objects – from ladders to pillows and offered insights into the factors influencing product design in Melbourne today.

Design Brief:

The NGV invited Hassell to collaborate on the exhibition design of the Design Wall 2023 an installation celebrating product design from Melbourne curated by NGV’s Simone LeAmon as part of NGV's Melbourne Now. The follow-up to the first iteration of the Design Wall in 2013 for NGV's inaugural Melbourne Now exhibition, the 2023 delivery – even more ambitious in scale and scope, aimed to inspire, educate, and leave a lasting impression on the public.

By observing the following Design Objectives, NGV and Hassell ensured alignment with the overall vision of the Melbourne Now 2023 exhibition and Design Wall 2023 installation:

  • Celebration of Melbourne product design.
  • Immersive and engaging exhibition visitor experience.
  • Compelling exhibition design narrative.
  • Innovative use of gallery space.
  • A cohesive exhibition display of 35 products in multiples by 25 different brands.
  • Use of sustainable materials and fabrication practices.
  • Accessibility for people with different abilities and needs.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

NGV in collaboration with Hassell, embarked on a comprehensive design journey to deliver the Design Wall 2023. The process involved several steps that culminated in an awe-inspiring experience for gallery visitors, engaging them in the rich narratives woven into the Melbourne product design.

The initial phase involved a series of workshops where the objectives of the Brief were meticulously analysed and the features and backstories of all thirty-five product designs examined.

The concept of ‘Designing for Disassembly’ underpinned all design and material decisions. It was important that the design was as sustainable as possible and that every material used could be reused. From there, the initial idea of a 'wall' motif evolved it into a grand 'shelving system' with an internal aisle, resembling a ‘super-store’ in scale, it allowed people to walk through the installation. This concept set the stage for an immersive experience for visitors.

Undergoing refinement, factors such as spatial layout, mounting arrangements for the diverse object types and quantities, materials, lighting, interactive element, and accessibility were all carefully considered. The result was a free-standing structure, placed diagonally through the gallery, featuring multiple wall elevations, multiple viewpoints, wide internal aisle and illuminated archways.

Detailed technical drawings and specifications were generated for precise communication of the design intent.

Aligning with sustainability principles, the galvanised steel scaffold system was sourced, designed to be disassembled for return and reuse, reducing environmental impact. Ply sheets were deliberately left raw and kept as full-sized sheets.

Prototyping and testing was conducted to validate the functionality, safety, and visual impact of the design making refinements through consultations with manufacturers and lenders.

The final phase involved a collaboration between NGV technicians and the design team. Over a three-week schedule, the installation came to life with a keen focus on detail, precision, and build quality.

Design Excellence

The Design Wall 2023 sets a new benchmark for the exhibition and presentation of product design in Australia and internationally. The installation celebrates the work and dedication of the twenty-five Melbourne product designers employing an innovative design concept setting it apart from conventional exhibition displays; the awe-inspiring installation upon which all products were staged used off-the-shelf components able to be reused and recycled. Aligning with best practice principles the installation sends a positive message about the importance of environmental responsibility in the exhibition and gallery sector. The entire display for dismantling and reuse to eliminate landfill.

The user experience was at the forefront of the design’s objectives. The visually arresting and immersive exhibition experience was a key objective, achieved by the thoughtful layout, accessible display structure, the intriguing composition of exhibits and considered label convention that invited visitors to explore, walk through and experience the thirty-five consumer products up close, encouraging an appreciation of design for mass production in the context of the gallery.

The collaboration between NGV and Hassell demonstrates the value of industry partnerships in delivering excellent design solutions. The success of the installation in captivating and inspiring the public to delve into Melbourne product design will undoubtedly continue to shape the way people perceive Melbourne’s dynamic landscape of applied creativity. The project's meticulous attention to detail, functionality, accessibility, aesthetics, safety, quality, and sustainability makes it an exemplary model for future design exhibitions not just locally but on an international scale.

Design Innovation

Design Wall 2023 exemplified the power of imaginative and innovative thinking, underscored by sustainability principles, and fostered through cross-disciplinary and industry collaboration. This convergence gave rise to a unique installation design showcasing Melbourne product design at NGV, experienced by more than 400,000 gallery visitors and garnering international media attention.

Showcasing the creative and commercial prowess of Melbourne product designers, studios, manufacturers and brands, the installation skilfully tackled the challenge of presenting the featured products in an original and engaging way by highlighted the fundamental aspect of designing for serial production. Displaying quantities of each product type – ranging from one to two-hundred units, was achieved through the co-operation and support of twenty-five Melbourne and international-based lenders. NGV and Hassell worked closely to develop the installation’s unique features in consultation with these lenders, overcoming iterant supply, quantity, display and safety issues. This commitment to the collaborative design process, paved the way for a fresh, imaginative showcase of product design.

Sustainable materials and fabrication is a legitimate response to the growing concern for environmental responsibility in the exhibition sector. The design wall uses only two materials - galvanised steel scaffold system (typically used on construction sites) that can be disassembled and reused in future displays, and raw full sized timber ply sheets – in doing so the installation minimised waste and reduced its environmental impact.

The design team took visitor experience into account from the outset, delivering an accessible, immersive and engaging exhibition, while ensuring the design also successfully translated in photo media for the sharing culture on digital platforms. In recognition of the exhibition’s five-month lifespan, the design team addressed the circumstances of the temporary installation in context of the important opportunity delivered – the ongoing promotion of Melbourne design culture to a broad online audience.

Design Impact

Design Wall 2023 leaves a lasting positive impact by promoting Melbourne design excellence. Through its curatorial rationale and exhibits, and collaborative, innovative and sustainable approach to the installation design – it sets a new standard for exhibition displays, inspiring other institutions to be ambitious, adopt best practice design principles and processes, and forge partnerships with design industry professionals.

From a social and commercial perspectives, the Design Wall 2023 installation fosters a sense of pride and appreciation of Melbourne design. The installation’s success supports Victoria's design and creative culture, building on its reputation and status as a hub for innovation. By NGV collaborating with Hassell on a presentation foregrounding the work of twenty-five Melbourne design studios, manufacturers, and brands, the project showcased the region's talent on a national and international platform.

From an environmental standpoint, the project exemplifies principles of a Circular Economy. The use of the scaffold system designed for reuse and the careful selection of ply sheets with recycling in mind, demonstrate a commitment to designing out waste and minimising environmental impact. This approach aligns with sustainability objectives and sets a positive example for other design exhibitions, promoting eco-conscious practices within the gallery sector.

From a professional and cultural perspective, the project's collaboration between NGV and Hassell underscores the value of industry partnerships. This collaboration serves as a model for cross-disciplinary design projects, nurturing the growth of the design industry, the City’s cultural capital and economy.

By celebrating and showcasing Melbourne's design talent in an impactful way, the project elevated the region's reputation in the national and global design community, attracting attention to designers and businesses in Victoria. Ultimately, this project contributes to a more vibrant, sustainable, and culturally enriched society, reflecting the transformative power of design in shaping a world of possibilities.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Design Wall 2023 represents excellence in circular design and sustainable design principles through its thoughtful approach to material selection, reuse, and waste reduction. By showcasing the possibilities of sustainable exhibition design, it serves as a beacon for the industry and demonstrates how design can be both aesthetically appealing and environmentally responsible. This project sets a high standard for future design exhibitions, inspiring others to adopt similar practices and contribute to a more sustainable and ecologically conscious future.

The project embraces a Circular Economy by designing out waste and minimising materials throughout its lifecycle. The use of a scaffold system designed to be disassembled and reused in future displays demonstrates a commitment to circularity, as it reduces the need for single-use materials and promotes reusability. Additionally, the careful selection and sparing use of ply sheets, with recycling in mind, further contribute to reducing waste and environmental impact.

The project's emphasis on using sustainable materials is evident in the choice of materials such as the steel scaffold and ply sheets. These materials are selected for their recyclability, longevity, and lower environmental footprint compared to traditional construction materials. Designed for reuse in future displays, the system promotes a cyclical approach to exhibition design. By planning for the system’s reuse, the project contributes to reducing the demand for new materials and minimising the environmental burden associated with frequent exhibition redesigns.

Design Wall 2023 serves as an educational platform, raising awareness about sustainable design principles and circular economy practices. By showcasing these principles in action, the project inspires visitors, design professionals, and institutions to consider sustainability in their own practices and projects. This educational aspect of the exhibition extends its impact beyond the immediate display period, fostering a culture of sustainable design in the community and society at large.

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