This year will mark Kobe Johns’ third as exhibition manager at designEX, Australia’s original design and architecture event. And with a new home and 10,000 industry professionals set to attend, Kobe promises this year’s event will be the biggest and best yet.
“Being at Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island, which is actually a peninsular, is a great opportunity for us to present the event in a new way,” says Kobe. “It has allowed us to be more flexible in our thinking and planning and I can’t leave out that it has a great view. Those travelling by ferry are in for a treat, it’s the real Sydney!”
With a strong focus on Australian design, women in design (from here and abroad) and a seminar series focusing on the broader design team, such as scientists, engineers and healthcare workers, the May event aims to refresh the design conversation. “The team and I have relished being able to present this longstanding institution with fresh and innovative content and work to reinvigorate the event,” explains Kobe. “Definitely the fact that we are carrying on a tradition of design events in Australia, I see this as a great responsibility.”
With the event soon to launch, Kobe has had a lot of time to consider the upcoming design trends and for her it comes down to four pivotal things: homeliness, comfort, warmth and design that is not for design’s sake. “Objects, furniture and lighting should mean something and enhance our domestic lives when at home,” says Kobe. “This carries over to commercial design and interiors where sustainability and smart building is key, against lavish and gratuitous. Materials, methods and approaches need to be specified for a reason of provenance or sustainability.”
In terms of an Australian design standpoint, there are particular trends that Kobe believes we are pioneering: “In furniture and object I can see a beautiful theme coming through by Australian designers of mixed materials and finishes; particularly of using polished brass and matte finished timbers or block colour, woven fabrics and light coloured timbers.
“The overall theme is of quality and consideration for the materials as well as the end user’s sensory experience including touch, where there is the contrast of cold metals and warm textiles, the smell of leather and visually beautiful colour combinations.”
designEX’s inaugural show at the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Glebe Island will be held from 28-to-30 May 2014. For more information.