Rigg Design Prize 2018


2018’s inspiring Rigg Design Prize celebrates 10 of the best Australian interior design practices


Interiors gets their hour in the sun at the 2018 Rigg Design Prize exhibition at Melbourne’s NGV Australia, which runs until 24 February 2019. Celebrating different contemporary design disciplines, the triennial prize focused on interior design and decoration for the first time in 2018, shortlisting 10 leading Australian practices. Each was tasked with creating a bespoke, purpose-built room in the gallery, responding to the theme of ‘Domestic Living’. The results are inspiring, suggesting fresh ways of inhabiting our homes, new trends and creative solutions to modern pressures. Even if you can’t get to Melbourne, check out our round up the 10 designs below…

Melbourne design practice Hecker Guthrie (aka Paul Hecker and Hamish Guthrie) bagged the AU$30,000 triennial prize for their graphic yet tactile installation ‘The table is the base’ (above). Riffing on the idea of the humble table, and its charismatic central role in domestic living spaces, the custom-made room plays with clean lines, form and scale. It explores the table as surface, support and enclosure. Judge Shashi Caan said, ‘Using only two elements – the simple form of the ‘Parsons’ table and terracotta as material – the project demonstrates the power of design restraint and curiosity at play.’


New York-based Australian photographer and designer Martyn Thompson’s space celebrates the ‘Atelier’, channelling the modern blurring of work and home life as an opportunity for creative expression. Bathed in light and shadow, his moody space features many of his own designs – including upholstery textiles, rugs, ottomans, wall treatments, ceramics, art and photos shown alongside collaborative, vintage, found and hand-crafted pieces. Even Thompson’s records, shoes and fleamarket finds make the cut. Clothes are hung like artworks and ambient music generates emotion. Flexible and ever-evolving, this is the home as heartland, layered, textural and deeply personal.


Like a chic spaceship or cool club, Danielle Brustman’s installation ‘Inner-Terior’ is somewhere we’d like to hang out. It helps that it stars a contemporary update of a cocooning, conversation pit and a futuristic record player (shown above right). A set designer before founding her Melbourne studio, Brustman drew on theatrical aesthetics for this curvy white space, edged with vibrant colour, glossy metallics and eye-catching illuminations. A lounge room that borrows from stage and spectacle, it takes its cues from Art Deco bandshells, European retro-futurist designs from the 60s, 80s movie Xanadu, rollerskating rinks and amusement rides. We reckon it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey gone domestic.


Stylist and author Sibella Court, of Sydney interiors store The Society Inc, has always had a love affair with global curios, vintage finds, old tools, pirates and gypsies. For her Rigg Prize entry, dubbed the ‘Imaginarium’, she envisaged a space to ‘wonder, imagine, interact, research and create’. An entire home distilled into a single room, it feels darkly magical, with a rich mix of materials from pressed metal to wood and fabric. Layers of textures and colours, old and new, and real and imagined offer a modern take on a 16th-century ‘cabinet of curiosities’. The space celebrates craft, with displayed objects, including a striking feature wall, acting as a catalyst for memory and imagination. From an alchemy workshop to a ship’s crow’s nest, a bar, dress-up cupboard and pot-belly stove, it’s a mini world of wonders.


Texture rules in the mesmerising tone-on-tone sculptural installation crafted by Richards Stanisich, titled ‘Our natural needs in a digital world’. The Sydney practice, established in 2018 by former SJB talents Jonathan Richards and Kirsten Stanisich, addresses our fundamental need for shelter, sanctuary, hygiene and intimacy and how it has been transformed by integrated technology and the Internet of Things. A central ochre living, sleeping and kitchen space champions the handmade, simple and earthy, with natural fabrics, ceramics and tiles. By contrast, it’s surrounded by black gloss tiles edged with blue light, representing the digital realm.


Melbourne interior architecture firm Flack Studio has a way with vibrant colour, bold pattern and unexpected details, as seen in their striking portfolio of residential spaces, cafes, restaurants and boutiques. For the Rigg Prize, David Flack and his team ‘Flackify’ their living/dining space with saturated gold hues, luxe textures and quirky art and ornaments. ‘We’ve boundless plains to share’ references diversity and inclusion, creating an emotionally charged room for a golden age in Australia, encouraging collaboration and community.


Elegance and beauty are at the heart of ‘Home: feast, bathe, rest’ by Sydney interior design studio Arent&Pyke (Juliette Arent and Sarah-Jane Pyke). The smartly zoned space combines areas for dining, washing and retreating, offering ideas for respite and emotional and physical wellbeing in a stressful world. Each area includes a contemporary Australian artwork and a bespoke piece of furniture, blending inspiring design-art with comforting, restorative simplicity.


Sydney interior design and landscape practice Amber Road’s seductive space ‘Take it outside’ is full of burnt colours, floaty textiles and dreamy desert and starlit views, centred around an inviting lounger. It celebrates the verandah or porch as a key transitional zone for relaxing and chatting together, especially in Australian homes. Principal designers and sisters Yasmine Ghoniem and Katy Svalbe spent time in the Middle East, as well as on their family farms in Australia, capturing this heritage in a beautifully crafted indoor-outdoor room.


Have homes become inner sanctums, fortresses or vessels for consumerist ideals? Melbourne- and LA-based David Hicks studio presents ‘Panic room’, combining Hicks’ trademark eye for luxe detail with lighting strung on chunky chains and threatening screens. It’s a slick satire on our panicked, media-saturated times, suggesting a life on stage, voyeuristic and yet paranoid about threats from outside. Has the aspirational ideal of a perfect life morphed into homes as psychological retreats and cocoons for self-protection?


A sequence of six rooms forms ‘Wunderkammer’, an installation by Sydney-based Scott Weston Architecture Design which takes its cue from the renovation of Weston’s own Victorian Italianate terrace house, Villa Carmelina. Each contains a cabinet, or wunderkammer, featuring prized ‘jewels’, miniature artworks by favourite makers. An abstract representation of the house, it makes use of monochrome dioramas with coloured highlights and wallpaper vignettes or ornaments and collectibles.

Catch the Rigg Design Prize 2018 at Level 3, NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne until Sunday 24 February 2019 (10am-5pm) or see the gallery’s website for a virtual tour and online interviews with the designers

Midnight Modern

Tom Blachford shoots iconic mid-century architecture by moonlight. We're smitten by 'Midnight Modern'...


Caught between dream and waking, Tom Blachford's magical-realist photos of classic Modernist architecture are on show at Sydney's Black Eye Gallery in Darlinghurst until Sunday 12 June. What makes the images in 'Midnight Modern' so alluring – apart from the Mad Men-esque residences, cool vintage cars, turquoise pools and towering palms – is that all were photographed during a full moon, bringing a unique light (or should we say darkness?) into the frame.

ABOVE: 'Abrigo Corner I'
BELOW: '888 Regal'

A chance discovery one night led to Melbourne photographer Blachford's love affair with the interplay between architecture, mountains and moonlight. Seeking to avoid the cliché of snapping California's Palm Springs in sunlight, he tried a nocturnal shoot and was blown away by the moonlit glow. Focussing on the desert resort city's iconic mid-century homes, he spent several years revisiting the area, capturing the evocative landscape under five full moons, including a supermoon. The ongoing series is cinematic, tinged with an air of unreality, as if the buildings were model kits or advertising fantasies – sometimes hyper-real and glossy, other times darker, shadowed and more unnerving.

BELOW: 'Frey II'

Shot close to midnight, front on, using long exposures that stretch out passing stars, Blachford's eerily otherworldly yet glamorous images have a dash of a David Lynch movie about them, stripped of people yet high on colour-rich style. Despite their artificial look, the lighting is wholly natural, with no post-production meddling. What man-made illumination there is comes from domestic house, garden and car lights, backdropped by looming desert rocks, cacti and trees.

BELOW: 'Los Robles Affair I'

Working covertly originally, but then in cahoots with the community, Blachford has gained access to inspiring properties including Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann House, Frank Sinatra's legendary 1947 estate Twin Palms by E. Stewart Williams, and the Frey House II by Albert Frey, as well as restored Alexander tract pads. Beautiful, surreal and haunting, his pictures beg the question: "Is anybody home?" and, more mysteriously, "Is anybody out there?"

'Midnight Modern' is at Black Eye Gallery, 3/138 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, Sydney, until this Sunday 12 June 2016 (open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm)
All photos by Tom Blachford, available in three sizes from Black Eye Gallery. Prices vary for different editions; framed or unframed.

designjunction + Dwell on Design NYC

designjunction + Dwell on Design is a must-see at May's New York design fair, offering cutting-edge creations and compelling conversations…


The Fizz is a big fan of designjunction, a UK-born contemporary design showcase that always pulls together intriguing talent at its outings in London and Milan. Now they’re joining forces with America's largest design event Dwell on Design to host designjunction + Dwell on Design at New York's citywide festival NYCxDESIGN. Running from 13 to 15 May, the exhibition will introduce a cluster of global labels to the Big Apple. What’s more, there's 100 free tickets up for grabs, on a first come, first served basis, so register pronto for a chance to nab one.

ABOVE TOP: All the fun of the fair: join buzzy crowds at NY's designjunction + Dwell on Design showcase
ABOVE: Industrial-chic pendant lights by Brit brand Buster + Punch; from left, 'Heavy Metal' in Smoked Bronze, Steel and Rose Copper

Global brands
Bringing together 30 European brands, including established and emerging names, the showcase will take over the warehouse-esque ArtBeam venue in Chelsea. Expect edgy pendant bulbs from East London’s Buster + Punch, colourful Scandi accessories from Muuto and striking contemporary furniture from Finnish firm Artek. Textiles are also represented, with blankets and cushions from Welsh favourite Melin Tregwynt and sculptural fabrics from Anne Kyyrö Quinn. Newer talents to note include East Sussex homewares label Dyke & Dean, luxe London lighting practice Haberdashery and quirky Middlesex furniture purveyors Capsbury.

ABOVE TOP: 'AARA Design' by Capsbury sports compact dressing tables and portable side tables
ABOVE: Speakers include established US lighting, furniture and accessories designer David Weeks, shown here with his FSC-certified paper 'Infinity Screen'

Design talks
Three days of stellar talks are also up for grabs at the designjunction show, exploring architecture and design's role in the modern world. Industry names taking the stage include esteemed illustrator Bob Gill, Brooklyn furniture and lighting designer David Weeks, American industrial designer Jeff Miller and Gregory Wessner, executive director of architecture event Open House. Curated by Dwell magazine editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron, the summit aims to spark debate and share inspiration. Check out the schedule and tune in.

ABOVE: Finnish firm Artek will showcase new designs and style the cafe; its 1960 'Kiki' seating collection by Ilmari Tapiovaara, reupholstered in a new stripey fabric by fashion star Raf Simons, was a hit in Milan

Sociable space
#djDoD will also host a pop-up work space by US creative community brand WeWork, plus a vibrant café, in collaboration with Artek, serving Illy coffee.

Designjunction + Dwell on Design runs from 11am to 6pm Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May, and from 10am to 4pm on Sunday 15 May 2016. It’s at ArtBeam, 540 W 21st St, New York. Advance tickets US$30, on the door $35.


LDF 2015 – 10 London Design Festival Highlights

It may be the last day of London Design Festival 2015, but here are 10 top FizzPicks to end on a high...


So, the London Design Festival draws to a close this Sunday 27 September, but you can still cram a hell of a lot into just one day. With seven design districts beckoning, from Bankside, Brompton and Brixton to Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Islington, Chelsea and Queens Park, there's plenty on offer. Here are 10 of our favourite shows and installations from this talent-packed week to tempt you to hit town for one last hurrah...

Walala in da House at Aria Islington Design District
Fans of East London designer Camille Walala's ultra-bright, bold geometric street art – a hit from Shoreditch to Sydney – will love her show 'Walala in da House' in the Islington Design District. Walala's trademark Pop-tribal digital prints look equally at home in her interiors range, exclusive to Aria store, featuring armchairs and shelving, graphic cushions, prints and ceramics. Walala (above) collaborated on the furniture with local designer-maker Dale Kirk and on the ceramics with innovative Stoke-on-Trent potters Flux (CoBaltum). It's like Memphis went raving, and we're up for joining the party.
Aria, Barnsbury Hall, Barnsbury Street, Islington, London N1
camillewalala.com  ariashop.co.uk


A Bullet from a Shooting Star by Alex Chinneck Greenwich Peninsula
Combining surrealism with spectacle, British sculptor Alex Chinneck has created 'A Bullet from a Shooting Star' out on Greenwich Peninsula, an area being developed for new housing. Don't worry, it's not a collapsed electricity facility. Chinneck has a knack for making the everyday extraordinary, and his 35-metre upside down steel pylon looks like it was shot into earth at a radical angle. Acting as an arrow to the neighbourhood, and a reminder of its industrial past, it's a star at LDF15 (the views from Emirates Air Line cable car are great). Also catch companion exhibition 'Straight Jacket Star Jumps' at nearby NOW Gallery, which sees a 20-metre pylon coiled bizarrely into a seven-metre-high space.
Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10
alexchinneck.com  greenwichpeninsula.co.uk  nowgallery.co.uk

Momentum by Fredrikson Stallard Holborn
It may look like a boulder from the Red Planet, but this Mars-esque marvel is actually the squishy 'Species' sofa, formed from polyurethane, glass fibre and polyester coated in red velvet by design-art duo Fredrikson Stallard. It's on show at their theatrical Holborn HQ/home as part of their 'Momentum' selling exhibition, spanning experimental furniture, sculpture, product and print. Supported by David Gill Gallery, it includes one-off and edition pieces themed around bronze, steel and ice.
Fredrikson Stallard, 10A Warner Street, London EC1
fredriksonstallard.com  davidgillgallery.co.uk

Barber Osgerby Lanterns at Twentytwentyone Islington Design District
Fans of George Nelson's iconic pendants and Isamu Noguchi's 'Akari' light sculptures will love these contemporary new 'Hotaru' lanterns by Brit duo Barber Osgerby, launched at exclusive distributor Twentytwentyone in Islington Design District. Drawing on the traditional heritage of Japanese lantern-making, they're manufactured by Oseki using translucent handmade Mulberry bark paper stretched over a bamboo frame. Named after the Japanese word for 'firefly', they come in two shapes; 'Buoy' (above), inspired by the maritime markers, and 'Double Bubble', which fuses twin spheres. We think they look great in groups.
Twentytwentyone, 274-275 Upper Street, London N1
barberosgerby.com  twentytwentyone.com

Donna Wilson SCP Editions at SCP Shoreditch Design Triangle
Serious design is all well and good, but sometimes only a ceramic critter will do. Fans of Brit designer Donna Wilson's cute animals motifs, usually seen on cushions, tableware and throws, will love her new earthenware 'Bear' and 'Bird' designs, part of SCP's small-batch SCP Editions released for LDF15 in the Shoreditch Design Triangle. Based on Wilson's illustrations, they're hand-painted and glazed in Stoke-on-Trent, and are available in various colours. SCP is also launching six sofas by six different designers for 'Sofa in Sight', including the minimal boxy 'Rochester' by lighting whizz Michael Anastassiades.
SCP East, 135-139 Curtain Road, London EC2
donnawilson.com  scp.co.uk

Twisting Tradition at Mint Brompton Design District
South Kensington store Mint, in the Brompton Design District, is known for its sharp, eclectic edits of the best new design. Discover cutting-edge and curious craft pieces in their LDF show 'Twisting Tradition', including Japanese brand Nendo's 'Tokyo Tribal' collection of chairs and tables for Singaporean firm Industry Plus, which incorporate woven baskets as supports and storage.
Mint, 2 North Terrace, Alexander Square, London SW3 (until 30 September)
mintshop.co.uk  nendo

Lenneke Wispelwey at SMUG Islington Design District
Dutch ceramicist Lenneke Wispelwey's contemporary new porcelain tableware teams sherbet colours and geometric patterns. In residence at Islington design store SMUG, she'll be launching new pieces, including the 'Pour Darling Jug''Fat Lady' and 'Queen Mother' vases.
SMUG, 13 Camden Passage, Islington, London N1
lennekewispelwey.com  ifeelsmug.com

Pinch: Nim at Pinch Shoreditch Design Triangle
We're longtime admirers of British furniture label Pinch (Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon), whose sleek wooden designs always turn heads. In a new departure, though, the studio has launched its new limited edition 'Nim' table made from Jesmonite, channelling lava strata, stone and the weather. It looks like something forged from the natural world, not a man-made object; we want! Although their shop is in Clapham, their LDF show is at the Rochelle School in the Shoreditch Design Triangle, and includes elegant offerings such as the 'Leta' chaise and 'Eugene' table.
Pinch show, First Floor, Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2

Tom Dixon: Multiplex by Tom Dixon Old Selfridges Hotel
Brit design star Tom Dixon and Wallpaper magazine present Multiplex, a playful take on an immersive, multi-sensory shopping mall, at the Old Selfridges Hotel behind Selfridges department store. Drawing on look, scent, sound, touch and taste, it includes design, technology, fashion, film and interiors, exploring ways in which we might encounter retail environments in the future. Under pressure from online shopping and rising rents for bricks and mortar, traditional stores need to reinvent themselves in the digital age. Shop till you drop at this trendsetting pop-up, which offers bespoke products, unique services and potent experiences, as well as new lighting, furniture and accessories from Dixon.
Multiplex, Old Selfridges Hotel, 1 Orchard Street, London W1 (until 15 October)

Darkroom is Five – 5 Years / 5 Products / 5 Shapes Bloomsbury
Circle, triangle, square, semi-circle, ziggurat. Directional design store Darkroom celebrates five years in business by launching five new products focused on five bold shapes. Expect 'Bauhaus Alphabet Pendants' from their first jewellery range, hand-dipped 'Monochrome' enamelware tableware, 'Shapes Scented Candles' in charcoal or white tea (housed in reusable glass containers with cork tops), handwoven 'Kilims' and Welsh woven 'Shapes Blankets' in grey, black and white geometrics with vibrant accent stitching. Shape up!
Darkroom, 52 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1

The London Design Festival runs until Sunday 27 September 2015, although select shows continue longer; londondesignfestival.com


A new exhibition in Sydney looks at the world’s ultimate residential spaces. We’d happily move into any of the properties in ‘Superhouse’…


What’s your idea of the perfect house? A glassy modernist cube cantilevering over a river? A sculptural concrete sanctuary in the countryside? Or a rough-luxe castle guaranteed to leave guests’ jaws dropping? Whatever your fantasy home, we’re pretty sure you’ll find it at new exhibition ‘Superhouse: architecture and interiors beyond the everyday’. 

Just opened at the Museum of Sydney, this thought-provoking show was curated by interiors magazine editor-turned-author Karen McCartney, and drawn from her October 2014 book of the same name, with expanded themes and fresh local examples. Celebrating standout contemporary architecture, the showcase features imagery by renowned British interiors photographer Richard Powers, with properties drawn from around the world. 'Each house has a different way of prompting thought about how we live or could possibly live,' says McCartney. 'For some people one place would be a delight whereas to others it would be inconceivable. It makes us question the norms.'

So what makes a house super? ‘A superhouse delivers a 360-degree completeness of form, its exterior and interior have a seamless execution and, above all else, it is awe-inspiring,’ explains McCartney. ‘This quality can be elicited from the perfection of its natural setting, a remarkable use of materials, an exceptional level of craft, groundbreaking innovation or a use of space that lifts the spirit. The exhibition demonstrates how architectural experimentation and daring can challenge notions of how we should live.'

ABOVE: River view of The Goulding Summerhouse, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Scott Tallon Walker Architects, 1971-73 (restored 2002).
ABOVE RIGHT: Solo House, Cretas, Spain, Pezo von Ellrichshausen architects, 2009-2012. 
BELOW FROM LEFT: Astley Castle (dining room), Warwickshire, England, Witherford Watson Mann architects; Solo House, Spain, Pezo von Ellrichshausen architects, 2009-2012.    

Superhouses were selected from as far afield as Italy, the USA, Ireland, Brazil and Australia, spanning a revamped castle, a converted cement factory, a futuristic seaside escape and an intimate prefab. Just 15 houses made the cut, grouped under five key themes: Re-make, Finding Form, Small Spaces, Roof Tops & Skylines and The Land. Size is irrelevant to McCartney’s idea of the superhouse, instead they must demonstrate 'a strong connection with nature', mindfulness, and design that goes well beyond the everyday. Some explore the reinvention of existing structures, such as Sydney's Skylight House in Balmain. Others – such as modernist marvel The Goulding Summerhouse in Ireland by Scott Tallon Walker Architects, with its Mies van der Rohe-esque cantilevering pavilion – prove that small spaces can still pack an architectural punch, creating a contemporary statement in the countryside.

ABOVE: The Pierre house, San Juan Islands near Seattle, Washington, USA, Olson Kundig architects, 2013. 

Nature is a huge influence, as seen in Olson Kundig architects' The Pierre house, built into a rocky outcrop in the San Juan Islands near Seattle, responding specifically to its location. The UK's Astley Castle, a 12th-century ruin, was reimagined with a contemporary interior by Witherford Watson Mann architects, without falling into the trap of imitating the past (you can hire the space via Landmark Trust). By contrast, The Solo House is ultra-modern, its radical form flanked by view-blessed verandas with a swimming pool at its core. The Flinders House in Victoria, by Australian Wood Marsh Architecture, shows how both interior and exterior can be resolved spectacularly within a landscape. Even a humble prefab gets a look-in, care of the Almere House in the Netherlands; conceived as a temporary dwelling it became home to architect Jan Benthem's family. Audio and video interviews, immersive furniture and interior details, a members' curator tour and a talks series help bring the buildings to life.

BELOW: Almere House, Almere, The Netherlands, Benthem Crouwel Architekten, 1982-1984; Concrete House, view over Lake Maggiore, Sant' Abbondio, Switzerland, Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architetti, 2012; The Flinders House, Victoria, Australia, Wood Marsh Architecture, 2012.

What will characterise the superhouse of the future, say in 2055? ‘It is so hard to say,’ admits McCartney. ‘Our house [The Marshall House by Bruce Rickard in Clontarf, Sydney] was built in 1967 and aspects of it, such as the marriage of indoor and outdoor space, are still considered contemporary. Things move slowly. I would hope that houses are smaller, more efficient, more sustainable, that buildings are repurposed in a clever way and that nature finds a place.’

McCartney has just collaborated on a new book called White Rooms with photographer Richard Powers and her husband design journalist David Harrison, published by Penguin imprint Lantern on 26 August. ‘I also have another book project in the pipeline called Perfect Imperfect looking at the role of accident, serendipity, collections and patina in design, architecture and interiors. It will be published by Allen & Unwin's Murdoch Books division in April 2016.’  From superhouses to embracing imperfection? Expect the inspiration to keep on coming...

'Superhouse: architecture & interiors beyond the everyday’ is at the Museum of Sydney, corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets, until 29 November 2015. The eponymous book is published by Penguin/Lantern ($69.99). All photos © Richard Powers.