An International Fair

As inhabitants of the world’s most liveable city, Melburnians expect good design. We are a well-travelled population of backpacking youths who become working jetsetters, with a strong and diverse migrant community. So naturally, like the wide range of cuisine we enjoy in this city, design inspiration too is sourced from abroad – and a smorgasbord of international design comes together each year at DENFAIR.

“Denfair has fast become an important event internationally and one that I consider a must see each year,” says founder and editor-in-chief of Design Anthology, Suzy Annetta. “It’s the best way for me to reconnect with the Australian design industry in a short period of time.”

Perhaps one of the most anticipated international design houses this year was UK-based Zaha Hadid Design (ZHD). Directors Maha Kutay and Woody Yao sat with Design Anthology’s founding editor-in-chief, Suzy Annetta, for a standing room-only Speaker Series talk. Find the full video here. Among the otherworldly objects showcased at ZHD’s first-ever stand at DENFAIR 2019, was their Cell Candle Holder. This fluid, modular design, which can be purchased in parts, won the Best International Product at DENFAIR Awards. In the same category, the Moving Stool by Flinkspace received a high commendation, for a playful design which brings casual tactility to any environment. Find a full list of this year’s Award winners here.

The show’s workspace precinct, new in 2019, brought a host of thought-leading commercial exhibitors from abroad. Steelcase shared their workplace research findings through Asia Pacific communications director, Maria Bourke, who joined Heidi Smith of Gray Puksand and Dr Adrian Medhurst of Benny Button in a discussion on the contemporary workplace led by Angela Ferguson of Futurespace. Find the full video of Work! What is it Good For? here.

The precinct was rounded out by notable international designers and distributors, including Workspace Commercial Furniture, TCW, Kollab Projects, Howgroup, Lightspace Australia, UCI Australia, Actiu, Seeho Su and Bene, alongside local window to the design world, CULT. Our workspace exhibitors can be found in the DENFAIR Brand Directory.

The Speaker Series, curated this year by DENFAIR editor, Sandra Tan, gave insights from diverse architecture and design guests from Europe and Asia. Perhaps one of the most important forums was one on new-school design thinking in Asia Pacific, which asked the audience to take a fresh look at the undervalued design and manufacture coming out of the region, and examine the complexities – and problematic attitudes – we have surrounding ‘Asian design’ in the Australian mainstream. For a recap of Made In Asia: Neighboring Design Cultures, click here.

Other design highlights from beyond our shores could be found on the Koda stand, featuring characterful pendants by Spanish brand Vibia, and at English Tapware with a selection of Rockwell bathware. In the outdoor furniture category, Parterre showcased a range of contemporary European-designed solutions for the Australian outdoors, including pieces by Skargaarden. And Domo drew much interest for their modern-meets-classic Ligne Roset collection, as well as a plush bed designed by Jaime Hayon for Whitmann.

On Saturday, the exhibitor community invited their renowned design collaborators to take part in DENFAIR’s new initiative, Designers Meet Designers. As always, there was a strong Italian contingent, including Monica Armani appearing at Cosh Living to discuss her inspired work for Tribu, Maurizio Battilossi on stand at Cadrys and Cristian Brugnoli of Technogym, who shared his fascinating insights on the future of fitness during his Speaker Series panel. Find our recap of the Furniture, Fixtures and Fitness: Shaping Healthy Spaces talk and a full video, here.

As the DENFAIR team begin, already, to shape the lineup for next year, we look forward to another show which becomes increasingly representative of the shape of design worldwide.

To browse all the International brands that exhibited at DENFAIR 2019, click here.