National Gallery of Victoria – Black Bamboo: Contemporary Furniture Design From Mer, Torres Strait

13 September 2019 – 5 April 2020

In February 2019, a group of artists living and working on Mer commenced work on a collection of contemporary bamboo furniture design. Mer, also known as Murray Island, is a small volcanic island in Eastern Torres Strait. Mer marks the start of the Great Barrier Reef and is home to a native species of bamboo, known in Meriam language as marep, and colloquially in English as black bamboo. The collective of artists became affectionately known as the Marep Pamle, or bamboo family.

Working in groups, the artists developed ideas for bamboo cabinets and seating; each object designed to tell a collectively agreed upon story informed by Meriam life and culture. The eighteen women and men of the Marep Pamle worked for three weeks to produce the cabinets, seating and cushions in this exhibition with the support of Melbourne furniture designer and craftsman Damien Wright, and the workshop team, including Simone LeAmon and Myles Russell Cook, curators from the National Gallery of Victoria; Kylie Burke, curator, Cairns Art Gallery; Leitha Assan, Exhibitions & Public Programmes Manager and Hans Ahwang, cultural guide, Gab Titui Cultural Centre; and project founder Aven Noah, Mer Gedkem Le (Torres Strait Islanders Corporation).

Members of the Marep Pamle include: James Blanco, Kalina Day, Helen Dick, Dulcie Gibas, Bobby Kaigey Snr, Mary Kaigey, Robert Meddy Kaigey, Helen Mabo, Alick Passi, Andrew Passi Snr, Andrew Passi Jnr, Nellie Passi, Taukie Passi, Zane Sailor, Clay Sambo, John Tabo, Sabu Tabo, and Reteah Tapim.

Black Bamboo: Contemporary Furniture Design From Mer, Torres Strait is a shared curatorial initiative between the National Gallery of Victoria, Cairns Art Gallery and Gab Titui Cultural Centre, with the support of Mer Gedkem Le (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation RNTBC.

More about Black Bamboo: Contemporary Furniture Design From Mer, Torres Strait here
Essay here by NGV Curators Simone LeAmon and Myles Russell-Cook

Image credits:
Mer, Torres Strait. Photography Simone LeAmon
Koki cabinet 2019 and Ebur Peris Peris cabinet 2019. Photography Tom Ross
Sik utem (Day bed) 2019 and Mas (Cushions) 2019. Photography Tom Ross
Marep pamle artists: Kalina Day, Nellie Passi, Mary Kaigey, Helen Mabo, Helen Dick, Dulcie Gibas, Reteah Tapim.
Installation view NGVBlack Bamboo: Contemporary Furniture Design From Mer, Torres Strait. Photography Tom Ross.
Arti cabinet 2019. Photography Tom Ross.
Gepi cabinet 2019. Photography Tom Ross.
Marep Pamle (from left to right/top to bottom): Project founder Aven Noah, Mary Kaigey, Zane Sailor, Bobby Kaigey Snr, Nellie Passi, Kalina Day, Andrew Passi Snr, Dulcie Gibas, Helen Dick, James Blanco, John Tabo, Helen Mabo, Leitha Assan (Gab Titui), Taukie Passi, Kylie Bourke (CAG), Hans Ahwang (Gab Titui), Sabu Tabo, Damien Wright, Simone LeAmon (NGV), Aven Noah Jnr (Gab Titui), Andrew Passi Jnr, Robert Meddy Kaigey, Myles Russell-Cook (NGV).


National Gallery of Victoria – Lucy McRae: Body Architect

30 August 2019 – 9 February 2020

Body architect, science-fiction artist and speculative designer, Lucy McRae considers how human biology might be augmented by a mixture of physical design, modification of emotions, molecular biology and technology.

Lucy McRae: Body Architect at NGV illuminates McRae’s creative path and work over the first thirteen years of her career. Her unique perspective on how humanity might move through the world in the future is explored through the mediums of photography, video and installation.

The first survey exhibition of McRae’s provocative and beguiling work, Lucy McRae: Body Architect traverses the Australian artist-designer’s numerous concerns – from art to commerce, science to popular culture – by showcasing her collaborations with brands, scientists and pop musicians alongside her creative research practice over the past thirteen years.

Accompanying the exhibition is the first title dedicated to this singular artist-designer. Lucy McRae: Body Architect is published by NGV and edited by Curator Simone LeAmon with texts by LeAmon, Dr Adam Nash, Associate Dean of Digital Design at RMIT University’s School of Design; and Dr Bronwyn Lovell a science-fiction poet and scholar.

More about Lucy McRae: Body Architect here
Purchase NGV Publication here

Image credits: Installation views Lucy McRae:Body Architect. Photography Tom Ross.


National Gallery of Victoria – Designing Women

28 September 2018 – 29 September 2019

Spanning nearly 40 years, from 1980 to 2018, Designing Women highlights the ongoing role of female designers as a dynamic and critical force in shaping contemporary design culture. From fashion design, contemporary jewellery, and product design, to architecture and digital innovation, Designing Women draws from the NGV Collection to showcase over 50 significant works of design – across diverse creative fields – all united by their female authorship.

From modern-day trailblazers including Zaha Hadid and Neri Oxman, to local heroes such as Elliat Rich and Helen Kontouris, Designing Women draws into focus the accelerating opportunity for women to shape the future, in a world increasingly defined by design.

More about Designing Women here
Find essay here by NGV Curator Simone LeAmon

Image credit: Aljoud Lootah Oru lamp, Elliat Rich Standing Place, Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez Bloom, Iris van Herpen Dress, Patricia Urquiola Fjord chair and stool, Faye Toogood Roly-Poly chair. Photography Tom Ross.


National Gallery of Victoria – Rigg Design Prize 2018

12 October 2018 – 24 February 2019

Recognising excellence in Australian design, the Rigg Design Prize is the highest accolade for contemporary design in Australia. The triennial prize is awarded to an Australian design practice displaying outstanding creative achievements in contemporary design.

The shortlist for the Rigg Design Prize 2018 included ten Australian design studios working in the field of interior design and decoration. For the prize exhibition, each studio was invited to design a purpose built interior that responds to the 2018 exhibition theme of Domestic Living. The NGV asked each design studio to produce an interior capable of communicating to audiences how designers create interiors as forms of communication embedded with values, ideas and stories that directly engage with the cultural, historical, material and technological aspects of society.

On 11 October 2018, Melbourne design practice Hecker Guthrie was awarded the prestigious Rigg Design Prize. The prize was judged by Shashi Caan, CEO of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers .

Shortlisted design studios included: Amber Road (NSW), Arent & Pyke (NSW), Danielle Brustman (VIC), Flack Studio (VIC), David Hicks (VIC), Hecker Guthrie (VIC), Martyn Thompson Studio (NYC), Scott Weston Architecture Design (NSW), The Society Inc by Sibella Court (NSW), Richards Stanisich (NSW)

More about the Rigg Design Prize 2018 here

Image credits
Installation view: Danielle Brustman
Installation views: Amber Road, David Hicks, Richards Stanisich, Arent&Pyke
Installation views: Flack Studio, Martyn Thompson, Scott Weston, Sibella Court
Installation view: Hecker Guthrie


National Gallery of Victoria – Melbourne Design Week

15 March – 25 March 2018

Creative Victoria and the NGV launched Melbourne Design Week in 2017 – a major new four-year design initiative conceived as an ambitious and collaborative program that underscores Melbourne’s position as a global design city.

In 2018 Melbourne Design Week looks at the theme Design Effects and delves into the wide reaching nature of design in its broadest sense. From the physical to the creation of experiences, services and identities, it asks: what effect does design have on the environment around us? How is design a catalyst for change?

This key initiative of the Victorian Government, led by the NGV’s Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture department, has seen Melbourne and Victoria come alive with over 160+ exhibitions, workshops, talks and tours across the state.

More about Melbourne Design Week 2018 here


National Gallery of Victoria – NGV Triennial

15 December 2017 – 15 April 2018

The NGV’s Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture is the first of its kind for an art gallery in Australia. Launched in 2015, the Department spearheads the NGV’s vision to become a leading international proponent for design.

Simone LeAmon, the Hugh Williamson Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture, is a curator at the NGV, and alongside Senior Curator, Ewan McEoin, co-curates the NGV’s Contemporary Design and Architecture programme.

Simone, in conjunction with the NGV curatorium for the inaugural NGV Triennial, developed the design and architecture component of the exhibition.

The inaugural NGV Triennial is an unprecedented, large-scale exhibition of international art, design and architecture, featuring works by over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries. Traversing all four levels of the NGV, the exhibition includes works by leading designers including Nendo, Formafantasma, Alexandra Kehayoglou, teamLab, Joris Laarman, Brodie Neill, Sean O’Connell, Neri Oxman, Sissel Tolaas and more.

Since its opening on 15 December 2017, more than one million people have visited the NGV Triennial.

The inaugural NGV Triennial is intended as a platform on which to present a global snapshot of contemporary art and design practice, to create a space for inspiration and conversation, and to give voice to some of the pressing issues of our time.

More about the NGV Triennial here

TeamLab Moving Creates Vortices and Vortices Create Movement 2017


National Gallery of Victoria

Contemporary lei and body adornment from the Torres Strait Islands

March – April 2017

As part of a curatorial project developed by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and Cairns Art Gallery (CAG) in association with Gab Titui Cultural Centre, an exciting new collection of contemporary lei and body adornment from throughout the Torres Strait Islands was produced between March and April 2017. Delivering the workshops on behalf of the NGV and CAG, was Simone LeAmon, Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture (NGV), Myles Russell-Cook, Curator of Indigenous Art (NGV), Ashleigh Campbell Curator (CAG), and Torres Strait Islander artist, Hans Ahwang. Together, the team facilitated a series of artist-led workshops on Thursday Island, Saibai Island, Erub (Darnley Island), Mer (Murray Island), Mua (Moa Island) and Badu, where communities came together to make and explore their artistic practice. In each workshop, participants produced unique body adornment incorporating both customary materials such as shells, feathers and seeds, as well as contemporary and recycled materials including copper, plastic and rubber. Each of the works produced offers a unique snapshot as to the breadth and diversity of cultural practices unique throughout the Torres Strait.

The project provided a vital exchange of knowledge between artists and curators, and through the workshop model created a deeper understanding of the shared cultures and identities throughout the Torres Strait. The culmination of this work was a magnificent collection of lei ranging from large-scale sculptural wall hangings, to intimate and delicate wearable pieces produced by fifty-three artists acquired for the permanent collections at both NGV and CAG. As a highlight of the city-wide programming for the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2017, more than forty of these works appeared in the exhibition Lei it on at the Cairns Art Gallery from 24 June – 27 October.

Image credits: Theresa Clermont, Shirley Ewadie Daniel, Dadib Ema Ingui, Bonita Kaida Ngalpan Buway Lei (Our family lei) 2017; Nancy Kiwat and Fred Kiwat Gazir lagoon 2 2017; Nancy Naawi Island home 2017; Ellarose Savage My home reef 2017; Hans Ahwang Kulai pamle (First family) 2017; Isobel Stephens Mudtha maza (Home reef) 2017. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Commissions 2017. Photographs courtesy of NGV.

Visit the journey here on


National Gallery of Victoria – Creating the Contemporary Chair

17 March – 15 October 2017

Creating the Contemporary Chair presents arresting and provocative chair designs by some of the most interesting Australian and international designers practising in recent decades. Comprising thirty-five new acquisitions supported by Gordon Moffatt AM, this exhibition explores the significance of chairs as markers of design evolution and as objects embedded with meaning, expression, experimentation and utility. Works on display range in date from 1980 to 2016 and include examples of both mass-produced and studio-created chairs sourced from around the globe.

Two years in development, Creating the Contemporary Chair explores the allure of the chair and its enduring hold over the designer. Offering fresh perspectives on chairs designed in our time the exhibition features the following works: Ghost armchair 1987 Cini Boeri and Tomu Katalanagi; Rose chair 1990 Masanori Umeda; Pepe chair 1992 Chris Connell & Map; Aeron chair 1994 Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf; Knotted chair 1996 Marcel Wanders; Go chair 1998 Lovegrove; Air chair 2000 Jasper Morison; Ghost chair 2002 Philippe Starck; Fjord armchair and stool 2002 Patricia Urquiola; Vitória Régia stool 2002 and Cake stool 2008 Estudio Campana; Stop playing with yourself 2005 Shamburg + Alvisse ; 101 chair 2006 Helen Kontouris; Clay Dining chair 2006 Maarten Baas; Principessa day bed 2006 Doshi Levien; MYTO chair 2008 Konstantin Grcic; Stitch chair 2008 Adam Goodrum; Plopp kitchen stool 2008 Oskar Zieta; Shadowy Armchair 2009 Tord Boontje; Spun chair 2009 Thomas Heatherwick; Endless chair 2011 Dirk van der Kooij; Alice chair 2011 Jacoppo Foggini; Chinaman’s file rocking chair 2011 Trent Jansen; Gravity stool 2012 Jólan van der Wiel; Post Mundus chair 2012 Martino Gamper; The Well Proven Chair 2012 Marjan van Aubel and James Shaw; Diatom chair Ross Lovegrove 2014; Kuskoa Bi chair 2015 Jean Louis Iratzoki; Settlers chair 2015 Jon Goulder; Fiona blackfish 2015 Porky Hefer; Flax chair 2016 Christien Meindertsma; She chair 2016 Tracey Deep; and, Remolten stool 2016 GT2P.

Online essay here

Photographs courtesy of NGV


National Gallery of Victoria – Common Ground

30 September 2016 – 29 January 2017

Drawing on works from the NGV’s permanent collections of contemporary art, design, fashion, decorative art, photography and prints and drawings, Common Ground ignores traditional artistic or medium-based categories to investigate relationships between and across contemporary creative practices.

Each of the unique settings in the exhibition is anchored by a central theme chosen to illuminate the common ground between creative disciplines. The themes – urbanism, nature, time, masculinity and anthropomorphism – serve as bases from which viewers can explore how ideas, materials, mediums and forms flow, recur or overlap between works of art and design.

This interdisciplinary approach to the display of art and design allows us to slice through social, cultural, scientific or physiological terrains to reveal how certain themes repeat and act as connecting pathways between contemporary creative practices.

Exhibition includes keyword by: Marc Newson, El Ultimo Grito, Andy Warhol, Patricia Piccinini, Gay Hawkes, Ricky Swallow, Aljoud Lootah and more.

More about the NGV exhibition here

Photographs courtesy of NGV


National Gallery of Victoria – Art of the Pacific

26 March – 21 August 2016

In search of lei (garlands) for inclusion in Art of the Pacific an exciting collection display showcasing the amazing arts and diverse cultures of the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia, Simone LeAmon NGV Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture travelled to New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji in December 2015. Culminating in twentyfive works made by customary and contemporary artists and makers the collection provides compelling insight into the lei in contemporary Pacific cultural practice.

Featuring works by Fran Alison, Mary Ama, Chris Charteris, Tanya Edwards, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Tui Emma Gillies, Leanne Joy Lupelele Clayton, Novima Kapente, Niki Hastings McFall, Ross Malcolm, Pele Family, Alan Preston, Emily Siddell, Lu’isa Unga Kaufusi, Lesieli Katokakala Tohi Topou and Mele Tu’ahiva.


National Gallery of Victoria – Rigg Design Prize 2015

18 September 2015 – 7 February 2016

Recognising excellence in contemporary Australian design, the Rigg Design Prize is the highest accolade for object and furniture design in Australia. Awarded to a designer with outstanding creative achievements, the triennial prize is a reflection of the National Gallery of Victoria’s commitment to contemporary, art, design and architecture. The invitational award, formerly the Cicely and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award, was established in 1994 to support contemporary craft and design practice in Victoria. In 2015, the new look prize extends to include a selection of designers from around Australia.

Curated by Simone LeAmon, Curator, NGV Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture, the Rigg Design Prize 2015 showcased a significant body of work from seven outstanding designers. Identified for producing some of the most interesting and compelling object and furniture design in Australia today, the participants are Adam Goodrum, Brodie Neill, Daniel Emma, Kate Rohde, Khai Liew, Korban Flaubert and Koskela in collaboration with the weavers of Elcho Island Arts.

The judges for the Rigg Design Prize 2015 were Gijs Bakker and Wava Carpenter, Prize recipient Adam Goodrum.

The Rigg Design Prize was generously supported by the Cicely & Colin Rigg Bequest, managed by Equity Trustees.

Images (Top left to right) Installation view, Kate Rohde, Daniel Emma, Brodie Neill, Korban Flaubert, Koskela in collaboration with the weavers of Elcho Island Arts, Khai Liew, Adam Goodrum.

More about the NGV Rigg Design Prize 2015 here


National Gallery of Victoria – Melbourne Now – Melbourne Design Now

22 November 2013 – 23 March 2014

Melbourne Now celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect the complex cultural landscape of creative Melbourne.

Recognising the role design plays in the city, the NGV dedicated one-third of Melbourne Now to design and architecture.

Melbourne Design Now curated by Simone LeAmon with exhibition design by LeAmon and Edmund Carter is the first design exhibition of its kind to be shown at the NGV. A presentation of localised creative intelligence in the fields of industrial, product, furniture and object design this exhibition comprises more than 90 design projects from 56 designers, design studios and companies.
Celebrating design’s relationship to everyday life, Melbourne Design Now reveals how contemporary designers are embedding unique and serial design production with ideas, meaning and emotion to resonate with the city of Melbourne. The exhibition contains five themes:

Design and Social Culture, Design and the Economy, Design and the Human Body, Design and Sustainability, Design and Visual Culture.

The exhibition is presented in several parts, highlights include:

Design Wall: Design in Everyday Life

A giant ‘design wall’, Design in everyday life, presents 40 products by 21 Melbourne design studios. Located on Level 3 of the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, almost 700 objects make up the design wall, communicating design’s relationship to serial manufacturing.

Designers and manufacturers

Brightgreen; Catalyst Design Group and Knog; Charlwood Design for Oates; CobaltNiche for Yarra Trams, KeepCup and Associated Controls; Crumpler; Demain International for BluCave; Design+Industry for Quickboats and Billi; David Flynn for Willow Ware Australia; Dale Hardiman; Helen Kontouris; Tom Kovac; Adam Lynch; Outerspace Design for; Nick Rennie; Rip Curl; Ronstan; Sherrin; Sprocket; Belinda Stening and Curve magazine.

Supported by The Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation

Design Wall: Design in Everyday Life. Photo Nicole England

More about the NGV Melbourne Now: Design Wall here

About the Design Wall 1 About the Design Wall 2

Design Case Studies

A curated selection of design projects responding to the themes of design and the economy, design and the human body, design and social culture and design and sustainability located on Level 2 and 3 of the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, and the NGVI Garden.

Design projects include cinema cameras by Blackmagic Design, the Direct to Brain Bionic Eye project led by Mark Armstrong for the Monash Vision Group and Monash University (MADA), the Bolwell EDGE caravan by Bolwell Corporation designed by Vaughan Bolwell and the video series The Secret Life of Things by eco designer Leyla Acaroglu.

About the Case Studies

Day 31 Day 49

Contemporary Furniture, Lighting and Object Design Collection

A curated selection of furniture, lighting and object design celebrating Melbourne’s flourishing designer-maker culture. Comprising limited production and one-off experimental design, each work is a story told through material and process designed to test our perceptions of taste, beauty and usefulness.


Ash Allen; Tate Anson; Gregory Bonasera; Christopher Boots; Adam Cornish and Wovin Wall; Emma Davies; Tim Fleming; Dale Hardiman; André Hnatojko; Jarrod Lim and Innermost; Anara Mailybayeva; Marc Pascal; Anthony Raymond; Kate Rohde; Kate Stokes; Damien Wright.

Photography Nicole England

About the Projects

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The Melbourne Now Design Residency: Bolwell EDGE Caravan studio

Sited in the Grollo Equiset Garden at NGV International, the Bolwell EDGE caravan designed by Vaughan Bolwell is a designer’s studio, open to the public from Thursday through to Sunday 10am–2pm. Placing emphasis on design thinking, strategy and process the Melbourne Now Design Residency aims to communicate that design is an agency for conceptualising, testing and distributing ideas that can move us to think and behave differently. The 16 designers participating in the residency have each devised a four-day work schedule to showcase their design ideas, demonstrate their creative research methods and prototyping processes.


A&D Projects; Studiobird; Vaughan Bolwell; Carter LeAmon; Crowd Productions; ENESS; Tom Kovac; Lab De Stu; Ben Landau; Leah Heiss; Little Wonder; Maker Machine; Mathery Studio; Stephen Mushin; Urban Commons; Danielle Wilde.

About the Residencies

Day 10 Day 20