DENFAIR Celebrates 5 Years of Design Excellence

Three weeks on, and the DENFAIR team has just about recovered from the biggest show we’ve ever delivered. After a year’s worth of planning and dedication, we are proud to have hosted a record number of professional visitors from the architecture and design industry this year. 


The DENFAIR Awards Ceremony, which runs on the first evening of the exhibition, brought leading designers, brands and emerging talent together to acknowledge the exemplary work on the show floor. Best Australian Product was given to the Sway Lamp Made by Pen, while Best Large Stand went to an immersive timber structure, Oak REDefined by the American Hardwood Export Council. Our judges – including designer Chris Connell, architect Rob Mills and editor of Design Anthology, Suzy Annetta – share all their winning picks and high commendations of 2019 here


The Front | Centre award this year went to Melbourne-based wood turner, Makiko Ryujin, for her evocative Shinki Burning Vessels, with Jaron Dickson’s Grenache Wine System earning a High Commendation. Each year, fresh design talent from all across Australia apply for an opportunity to have their work displayed alongside industry leaders, and gain support in production. Find out more about DENFAIR’s ongoing Front | Centre initiative here.


New in 2019, DENFAIR’s workspace precinct became a hub for those seeking adaptable design solutions for the modern, adaptable workforce. At the heart of this section filled with first-time exhibitors, Futurespace’s eye-catching installation, entitled #futurework, not only provided a talking point for visitors but also became a stage itself, where talks on the theme of collaborative partnerships were given by Richard Munao of Cult, Nigel Dalton of REA Group, Adam Goodrum and Gordon Tait and Dr Adrian Medhurst of Benny Button.


As always, collaboration is key to the success of DENFAIR. Our team worked with a range of design, creative and fabrication talent in order to craft the variety of imaginative, experiential spaces on the show floor. Hospitality venues, including Lounge by Spacecube, the first two-story structure in the exhibition’s history, the communal Cafe by PGH Bricks & Pavers were designed to communicate the design possibilities of each partner. The Chalet Restaurant’s striking timber structure, with industry support from WoodSolutions, captures the well travelled and well designed lifestyle of our 2019 Principal Media Partner, Wallpaper*. Elsewhere, biophilic design took centre stage with two green installations by Adam Cornish and Junglefy. Their Living Bar celebrated the connection between plants and purpose, with walls lined with leafy herbs and botanicals to be used in the cocktails made behind the counter. Clean Air demonstrated the powerful ability for plants to clear environmental pollutants, by introducing smoke into a box, only to be filtered out using only foliage minutes later.


Easel Project, an innovative concept by Marcus Piper and Adam Cornish made possible by Axolotl, celebrated collaboration across disciplines and mediums. A stellar lineup of artists, designers and creatives, including Adam Gooodrum, Belynda Henry, Ham Darroch, Jaime Hayon, Louise Olsen and Rachel Derum, were invited to create their own original expression at the intersection of art and design. Their individual works launched at DENFAIR 2019 to great acclaim, and are available in editions of eight, with proceeds from each sale donated in support of the Authentic Design Alliance.


Beyond the array of stands, furniture and products on display, the DENFAIR Speaker Series – curated by DENFAIR editor Sandra Tan and presented by Major Speaker Program Sponsor, Clipsal by Schneider Electric – once again encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in design thinking.


In a dreamy tactile space crafted entirely of foam by Arthur Koutoulas of Joyce Foam Products, 35 fascinating speakers from Australia and abroad took part in 13 panel discussions across the show’s three-day duration. Leading the discussions, our guest moderators brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their panels. Angela Ferguson of Futurespace examined workspace in the context of wellbeing and in the home. Green Magazine editor Tamsin O’Neill looked at closed-loop design in practice, and Artichoke editor Cassie Hansen led a convivial talk on Australian hospitality design.


One of the most popular talks of the exhibition featured Woody Yao and Maha Kutay, the UK-based directors of Zaha Hadid Design, facilitated by Hong Kong-based Design Anthology editor Suzy Annetta. Suzy also later chaired a compelling conversation which helped change common Australian perceptions on design in Asia Pacific, joined by designer JJ Acuna of Bespoke Studio, Caroline Olah of Reddie Furniture and Jon Liow of One Design Office. In it, complex ideas of design authenticity, cultural heritage and identity were unpacked, and the case squarely made for Australian businesses to look towards the many designers and skilled manufacturers in our diverse neighboring region.


For those who missed out, videos of each DENFAIR Speaker Series talk will be available online in coming weeks – an engaging record of a show which works to advance the design conversation, year after year.