Rigg Design Prize 2018

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

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

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…

HECKER GUTHRIE
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.’


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MARTYN THOMPSON STUDIO
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.


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DANIELLE BRUSTMAN
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.


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THE SOCIETY INC BY SIBELLA COURT
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.


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RICHARDS STANISICH
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.


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FLACK STUDIO
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.


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ARENT&PYKE
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.


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AMBER ROAD
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.


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DAVID HICKS
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?


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SCOTT WESTON ARCHITECTURE DESIGN
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

Claus Porto Takes Manhattan

New Yorkers can snap up a little Portuguese style with the arrival of Claus Porto’s first standalone store outside Portugal. Olá Manhattan!

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Portuguese label Claus Porto is famed for its exquisitely packaged soaps and, more recently, its revamped ‘Agua de Colonia' fragrance collection (right) created in collaboration with leading British perfumer Lyn Harris. However, until now, the company has been very much under the radar – a secret Lisbon and Porto gem for beauty and graphics enthusiasts alike. This is about to change.

RIGHT: British perfumer Lyn Harris has been instrumental in the brand’s revamp, These five new fragrances are based on a modern interpretation of colognes. ‘Agua de Colonia’ collection, £85 each for 125ml

Claus Porto has just opened a store on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan’s Nolita, the beauty and fragrance label’s first retail space beyond their Portuguese home. Conceived by New York firm Tacklebox Architecture, under the direction of Jeremy Barbour, the scheme is eye-catching in every sense. 

Milled from Portuguese cork, 1,500 faceted white diamond tiles line the walls of the vaulted interior, incorporating carved display niches. A 42-foot-long archway has also been inserted into the ground floor of this early 1800s building. Both pay homage to Portuguese architecture and craftsmanship, with the arch and tiles referencing Porto’s Sao Bento train station, which was first proposed in 1887 – the same year that Claus Porto was founded.

BELOW: The 1,500 faceted diamond tiles were milled from Portuguese cork – a material characteristic to the country – and reference the decorative azulejo tiled façade of the historic Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon

The arch serves as a dramatic portal to welcome visitors into the beautifully patterned and scented world of Claus Porto. It’s an otherwise minimal space, with a monolithic marble wash basin at its heart, celebrating bathing rituals. Yes, the interior is cool and futuristic – but the product remains king. What can we say but obrigado!
clausporto.com

Claus Porto, 230 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012. See Claus Porto’s website for details of their Portuguese stores in Lisbon and Porto.

LDF 2017 – Why designjunction should be in your diary this September

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Must-see show designjunction in the King's Cross Creative Quarter should be a definite date in your London Design Festival diary

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

One of our top picks for this year's London Design Festival, influential show designjunction (21-24 September 2017) offers a curated edit of up-and-coming and established design talent in north London's King's Cross Creative Quarter. Discover more than 200 exhibitors, including top global furniture, lighting and accessory brands, across five industrial spaces at key hub Granary Square, also home to pop-up shops and intriguing installations. Here's how to navigate #djKX's five show areas, plus a few tips for tipples afterwards!

ABOVE: At the core of 2017's designjunction, Granary Square's Gateways installation by Adam Nathaniel Furman celebrates Turkish tiles


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ABOVE: Flower power is the go at bloomon's floral walkway at Granary Square

Granary Square
At the heart of designjunction, Granary Square hosts the event's Box Office, housed in three glass pavilions by Remote Possibilities. Book or collect tickets here, or find out the skinny on the show. This central location is also home to flagship projects and installations. 

Your camera will thank you for starting at Gateways, by designer Adam Nathaniel Furman for Turkishceramics, which celebrates Turkey's love affair with artisanal tiles. Four tiled, four-metre-high gates – dubbed Classic, Timber, Retro and Metro – will immerse you in colour and pattern, proof of the enduring appeal of ceramics.


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ABOVE: Renault – Life Designed unveils new concept car TreZor

Cutting-edge car design is the star at bespoke interactive showcase Renault – Life Designed, which sees the French firm's award-bagging new concept car TreZor unveiled for the first time in the UK under the theme 'Beautiful Life', alongside a collaborative exhibition with Central Saint Martins MA industrial design students sharing ideas for the modular car of the future.

For pastel-hued flower power, check out bloomon's whimsical bloom-decked passage incorporating a secret door to a flower-filled room for intimate workshops and talks. Crafted by the floral delivery service – which sources stock direct from Dutch fields – it should inspire outdoor living ideas, as well as looking a treat on Instagram.


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Cubitt House & Cubitt Park
A stellar line-up of international design brands beckons at Granary Square's Cubitt House, displayed within a customised temporary structure, including furniture, lighting and accessories. Be sure to scope out Another Country, Bethan Gray and Deadgood. On the ground-floor you'll find popular show lightjunction, an illuminating mix of decorative lighting and emerging design labels. On the top floor, contract and residential brands present their latest products, especially interesting for trade and industry visitors. Cubitt Park is a new zone for 2017, combining emerging designers, luxury homewares and The Material Collective, a collaboration with SCIN gallery, investigating forward-looking materials.

ABOVE: Inspired by a mutual love of pattern, Kirkby Design x Eley Kishimoto recently presented 11 new wallcoverings to complement their upholstery fabrics, drawing on textural flocks, metallic prints and reflective surfaces. They've teamed up again in new area Cubitt Park to create VIP and press area The Lounge, host to several exhibitions and events


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The Canopy
Hot to shop? Temporary pop-up The Canopy in Granary Square brings together more than 70 desirable retail brands and emerging design labels under one striking wrought-iron structure, including homewares, stationery, tech goods, ceramics, glassware, textiles, architectural prints and fashion accessories. Look out for Fizz faves Adelaide furniture and product designers D.E (Daniel Emma), accessories brand &Ratio, and print duo Tom Pigeon.

ABOVE: designjunction's retail shopping zone The Canopy


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The Crossing
Expect installations by the likes of Kirkby Design, surface material maker Corian and OLED lighting specialists Blackbody at The Crossing, a five-storey zone which runs through Granary Building and the entry to Central Saint Martins, joining Cubitt House and The Canopy. This is also where you can spy new and graduate talent at the Rado Star Prize UK, launched for the first time and backed by the design-led Swiss watch brand.

ABOVE: French studios Blackbody and Haviland's bespoke contemporary chandelier cluster, 'Helen, Light & Porcelain', illuminates The Crossing area

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ABOVE FROM TOP: Lighting designer Tala will host a pop-up bar in Granary Square in a vintage car; Campari Creates takes to the water with a red-hued narrowboat bar

Creative cocktails
Worked up a thirst? Channel the spirit of Milan's Navigli canals at Campari Creates, a narrowboat bar dedicated to the iconic red aperitif. An art installation will accompany its two-week residency, alongside creative masterclasses. At Granary Square's Tala Mini Bar, high-end LED lighting bulb designer Tala will take over a refurbished vintage Mini Cooper as an impromptu bar, pouring white ports and tonics. The forest-inspired canopy, formed from 'Voronoi' bulbs, will look especially dazzling after a couple of cocktails...
thedesignjunction.co.uk

designjunction London 2017 is at 1 Granary Square, London N1, from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 September 2017. For an advance ticket deal see our home page or click here for registration, opening hours and visitor information. Tickets are £12 in advance (free for trade), or £15 on the door.

LDF 2016 – 10 Fab FizzPicks

With eye-popping numbers of events, it pays to plan your time at London Design Festival carefully. Here are 10 fab FizzPicks for #LDF16

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

A black-and-white climbing wall, a barge full of interior accessories or an architectural 'megatube' shaped like a smile... 2016's London Design Festival really does have something for everyone, with plenty of fresh creations to blow your mind.

With hundreds of events, and thousands of designs, up for grabs before the festival wraps this Sunday 25 September, #LDF16 is nothing if not intense. The art is to be prepared, hone your hit list, take a tote and ditch those heels (and yes, you may need a few prosecco refuelling stops!). Here are 10 hot design destinations to wet your whistle, but keep an eye on our Instagram feed for more inspiring #FizzPicks.

Whether you're keen to see furniture, fabrics or lighting, design or craft, emerging local talent or established international names, we've got a savvy selection for you. From box-fresh showrooms to vibrant street art, and radical scent design to eco-friendly oases in the city, here's to discovering the unexpected. This year's London Design Festival visual identity branding, by Pentagram, 'celebrates what often goes unnoticed, highlighting detail'. We'll drink to that...

ABOVE: Design fans snap 'Sculpting Scent', a show by Zuzu Mengham and Laboratory Perfumes at The Conran Shop, Marylebone
ABOVE RIGHT: Pentagram's tenth typographic identity for the London Design Festival's promotional materials, in its signature red and white, is inspired by Charles Eames' belief that the details make the design


The Smile
Parade Ground, Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip Street, SW1
Until 12 October 2016

For interactive design that will put a smile on your dial, climb inside 'The Smile' by London's Alison Brooks Architects, one of LDF's specially commissioned Landmark Projects. A 34m-long timber 'mega-tube' that you can inhabit and explore, it's formed from cross-laminated American tulipwood engineered with Arup into a sweeping sculpture, curving up at both ends. Cue airy viewing platforms, a smile shape and grins all round...


MINI LIVING Forests
Vince Court, N1; Charles Square Gardens, N1; Cnr Pitfield Street and Charles Square, EC1

Until 25 September 2016
Scattered around Shoreditch, Brit architect Asif Khan's three 'MINI LIVING 'Forests' installations offer verdant spots for retreat and reflection. A Landmark Project, these eco-savvy architectural solutions to urban living offer plant-filled 'forest bathing' spots (shinrin yoku), and will host pop-up dinners, workshops, plant exchanges and talks. The project examines ways to activate unused public space in dense cityscapes, creating inspiring 'third places' for social interaction.


Sculpting Scent
The Conran Shop, 55 Marylebone High Street, W1
Until 25 September 2016

'Sculpting Scent', a collaboration between London artist Zuzu Mengham and fragrance innovators Laboratory Perfumes, will seduce design hunters at The Conran Shop in Marylebone. Mengham's vibrant, swirly resin sculptures represent five fragrances through scent and colour, transforming aromas into solid objects. With our regular Looking Glass posts, The Fizz has long championed beauty and perfume design, and this installation has us entranced.


London Design Fair
Old Truman Brewery, 26 Hanbury Street, E1
22-25 September 2016

Dynamic umbrella show London Design Fair, including Fizz faves Tent London and Super Brands, is one of the festival's major Design Destinations. Over four days at East London's Old Truman Brewery, it will showcase more than 500 exhibitors from 29 nations, taking in country pavilions, established brands and emerging talents. Global showcases include the ever-intriguing '100% Norway' (curated by Max Fraser), 'Inspiring Portugal', 'Swedish Design Pavilion' and 'China Academy of Art'. International exhibitions span 'This is India' and the 'British Craft Pavilion' (including Marcin Rusak's sculptural lamps). Connecting British designers with Italian manufacturers, 'Trentino Collaborations' features a monumental granite chair by Max Lamb. Individual exhibitors at Tent include Californian mid-century-inspired furniture brand Bend Goods.


Ready Made Go 2
Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, 100 Shoreditch High Street, E1
Until 25 September 2016

Who doesn't love a monochrome climbing wall? This graphic wonder, the 'Ascension', was designed by London studio Patternity, as one of several 'Ready Made Go 2' commissions installed at Shoreditch's Ace Hotel. Located in the gym, it's a celebration of 'pattern, patience and perseverance.' Curated by Modern Design Review magazine, all the designs were made to be integrated permanently into the hotel, or sold in its shop, including creations by Silo StudioFaye Toogood and Jochen Holz. A gorgeous example are the 'BBQ' tiles by Assemble + Granby Workshop, cladding the seventh-floor bar. The patterns were formed by baking in a barbecue.


Light & Colour
Skandium, 86 Marylebone High Street, W1

Until 25 September 2016
Scandi design store Skandium will showcase 'Light & Colour', launching the iconic new 'Panthella Mini' table light by design icon Verner Panton for Danish lighting brand Louis Poulsen. The size and material are new, and it comes in 11 juicy new colours. Skandium's 245 Brompton Road sister store celebrates the whimsical work of Danish maximalist Bjørn Wiinblad, known for playful ceramic homewares and figurines, as well as textiles and tapestries.


Floating Pop-Up
Bert & May showroom, 67 Vyner Street, E2, and nearby canal barge
Until 30 September 2016

When London design influencers Darkroom traded their cool bricks-and-mortar store on Lamb's Conduit Street for online sales and wholesale we stifled a tear. Now the duo is back with 'Floating Pop-Up', a collaboration with Bert & May. Darkroom's pop-up has taken over Bert's Barge to showcase their new nautically-inspired A/W range of interior accessories and jewellery, while Bert & May's nearby showroom unveils fabrics, a new 'Darkroom Black' paint colour, and modular encaustic tile collection 'Split Shift', which can be arranged in myriad patterns. The three-strong launch celebrates simple geometric shapes – the circle, square and triangle.


Rock Pool
Basement Level, 3 Cromwell Place, SW7

Until 25 September 2016
New York-based Australian photographer Martyn Thompson launches his new 'Rock Pool' collection of upholstery fabrics, inspired by his photos of the ocean. Woven in cotton on a jacquard loom, the abstract fabrics are suitable for upholstery, soft furnishings and wall hangings, and evoke the movement of water, the play of sunlight on sea, and natural rock pools, reflecting Thompson's love of the accidental.


Creative Spaces and Places
Hope Exchange, outside 65 Southwark Street, SE1
Until 25 September 2016

Pattern Queen Camille Walala is all over town for LDF16, literally. The London textile and graphic designer has created one of her signature geo-bright street art works for Better Bankside's 'Creative Spaces and Places', transforming a pedestrian crossing on Southwark Street as part of the Bankside Design District. Walala has also crafted an eye-popping, rainbow Vinyl Lounge for Clerkenwell London store's 'Design Undefined' showcase (155 Farringdon Road, EC1, until 24 September), complemented by Yinka Illori's colourful upcycled chairs. For 'Re-inventing Re-vive', at Natuzzi's showroom (80-81 Tottenham Court Road, W1, until 25 September), Walala reinterpreted the classic 'Re-vive' recliner in bold pattern for a limited edition design.



60 Fulham Road, SW3
Until 25 September 2016

Lovers of 's elegant modern furniture rejoice! The European design brand launches its new flagship showroom in London's Brompton Design District for LDF16, its first in the capital open to the public. Expect to see new additions to Slovenian talent Nika Zupanc's glam 'Stay' range (a bench and dining table), alongside collections by Jaime Hayon and Damien Langlois-Meurinne.


londondesignfestival.com
The citywide London Design Festival runs from 17-25 September 2016; see events for individual dates and opening hours. A few extend beyond the official festival.

20th Biennale of Sydney

Ming Wong, 'Windows On The World (Part 1)', 2014, mixed media installation with video. Courtesy of Para Site and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong. Photograph_ Glenn Eugen Ellingsen.JPG

Packed with contemporary art and installations, the 20th Biennale of Sydney still has two more weekends to go. Navigate the maze with our fave FizzPicks…

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Every two years the Harbour City gets its art on, with the free Biennale of Sydney taking over town. Running until 5 June 2016, the 20th edition unveils work by 83 artists from 35 countries across seven major venues, dubbed ‘Embassies of Thought’, as well as a string of in-between fringe spaces. Around 70 per cent of artists are showing new commissions, many of them site-specific.

Under the artistic direction of Dr Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Curator of London's Hayward Gallery, the 2016 theme is based on a quote by US sci-fi author William Gibson: ‘The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.’ Inspired by the idea that access to information technology is still uneven globally, leading to a new poverty gap, the Biennale aims to address the time we’re living in now, as well as imagining where we're going. 'I conceived the venues as Embassies of Thought,' said Rosenthal. 'Each entwined and connected.' So while the Embassy of the Real deals with ways we perceive reality in the digital age, the Embassy of Disappearance 'explores how languages and cultures are disappearing' and the Embassy of Transition engages with the cycles of life and death.

With a blizzard of art up for grabs, even culture-vultures may get overwhelmed. Luckily, our FizzPicks offer edited highlights…

ABOVE: Ming Wong, 'Windows On The World (Part 1)', 2014, mixed-media installation with video
BELOW: Charwei Tsai, 'Spiral Incense: Hundred Syllable Mantra', 2016, spiral incense made of herbal materials

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Mortuary Station: Embassy of Transition
Regent Street, Chippendale
Grab the chance to inspect the interior of Chippendale's Victorian Mortuary Station, an atmospheric heritage-listed former funeral station once used to transport coffins and mourners by rail to Rookwood Cemetery. Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai’s ritualistic ‘Spiral Incense’ installation sees smoking incense coils suspended over the prettily tiled platform, hand-inscribed with Buddhist mantras. Video art projected onto the waiting room floors ruminates on the impermanence of life. Outside, aviaries by London artist Marco Chiandetti host live birds pecking at classical sculpture body parts in an unnerving investigation of spirituality. Gothic or what?

BELOW: Jamie North, 'Succession', 2016, mixed materials; Lee Mingwei, 'Guernica in Sand', 2006 and 2015, mixed-media interactive installation

Carriageworks: Embassy of Disappearance
245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
It’s hard for any art to compete with jaw-dropping former rail yards Carriageworks, but Sydney-based Jamie North’s sculpture-meets-nature installation ‘Succession’ rises like a biological wonder in this cavernous warehouse. Combining industrial waste products (cement, steel, steel slag, coal ash) with native Australian plants, organic matter and oyster shells, his karst-like cast-concrete forms incorporate miniature landscapes, riffing on distressed architecture. NY-based Taiwanese talent Lee Mingwei’s ‘Guernica in Sand’ – a transitory sand art piece taking its cue from Picasso’s iconic anti-war painting – may have been brushed away, but its blurry swirls of yellow, grey and white still hold a strange beauty.

BELOW: Lee Bul, 'Willing To Be Vulnerable', 2015-16, mixed materials; Korakrit Arunanondchai, 'Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3', 2015-16, HD video, denim, foam, wood; William Forsythe, 'Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, no.2', 2013, plumb bobs, string, compressed air cylinders, aluminium frames

Cockatoo Island: Embassy of the Real
Sydney Harbour
One of the strongest Biennale clusters, Cockatoo Island displays work surrounded by the eery ruins of Sydney’s convict, industrial and ship-building heritage. In the industrial sector, we liked Architecturally-influenced Korean artist Lee Bul’s huge, futuristic ‘Willing To Be Vulnerable’ installation, which mashed up metalised and transparent film, heavy-duty fabric, LED lighting, a fog machine, zeppelin-like inflatables and an ethereal air balloon in a bold red, white and black palette. Inspired by urban, eco and anti-authoritarian spiritual themes, Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai’s video of Bangkok life was powerfully immersive, but we couldn’t help appreciating the midnight blue-and-white dyed denim floor cushions for the lounging audience. Frankfurt-based American William Forsythe’s mesmerising kinetic work ‘Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time’ fills a distressed space with swinging strings, weighted down with plumb bobs, allowing viewers to interact with the movement. Shanghai's Xu Zhen deconstructs classical and Buddhist sculptures in a monumental work tackling the past, while Singapore's Ming Wong assembles a bank of video screens to show his own vibrant, kooky sci-fi films.

BELOW: Chiharu Shiota, 'Conscious Sleep', 2009/2016, beds, thread; Bharti Kher, 'Six Women', 2013-15, plaster of paris, wood, metal; Cevdet Erek, 'Room of Rhythms – Long Distance Relationship', 2016, mixed media and architectural additions

Taking over a heritage convict barracks, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota's spooky 'Conscious Sleep' installation is a wow, tangling old, upended dormitory beds in a spider's web of black threads. For subtle work 'Piedra en el Zapato', Colombia's Miguel Angel Rojas has crafted a fake, geometric-tiled floor from lime, charcoal powder and mixed materials in an old convict building. New Delhi-based Londoner Bharti Kher peoples an old room with touching nude plaster sculptures in 'Six Women'. By contrast, Turkish artist Cevdet Erek's 'Room of Rhythms – Long Distance Relationship' fills a ruined structure with sound art beats, emanating from black boxes.

BELOW: Sheila Hicks, 'The Embassy of Chromatic Delegates', 2015-16, sculptural elements, various fabrics, bamboo; Taro Shinoda, 'Abstraction of Confusion', 2016, clay, pigment, ochre, tatami mats; Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, 'Bathala', 2012, natural earth pigments on hollow log

Art Gallery of New South Wales: Embassy of Spirits
Art Gallery Road, Sydney
If colour and texture turn you on, then hit the Art Gallery of NSW for American artist Sheila Hicks’ sculptural ensemble ‘The Embassy of Chromatic Delegates’. Vibrant linen, cotton, nylon, polyester, bamboo and wood combine to form a dazzling acid-bright work (imagine this painterly palette used for high-impact rugs, wallpaper or cushions). Hicks’ acrylic-fibre ‘The Questioning Column’ hangs on the gallery’s facade, draped around a classical column like a rainbow waterfall. A world away, Tokyo’s Taro Shinoda channels minimal, neutral-hued interiors, with his ‘Abstraction of Confusion’, a simple tatami-mat platform that embraces simplicity and meditation. Shinoda’s hand-built installations and contemplative sculptural works are informed by karesansui, traditional Japanese garden design. Yirrkala-born indigenous artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu’s forest of logs almost has an oriental quality; stripped-back nature meets graphic mark-making.

BELOW: Nine Beier, 'Allegory of Charity', 2015, ceramic cups, coffee beans, resin, wood, metal; Céline Condorelli, 'Structure for Communicating with Wind', from the series 'Additionals', 2012-13/2016, metallicised space blanket, curtain tape

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: Embassy of Translation
140 George Street, The Rocks
Danish artist Nina Beier caught our eye at the MCA with her striking installation ‘Allegory of Charity’, a series of suspended ceramic cups pouring coffee beans onto ‘Tileables’, a patchwork floor of outsize ceramic tiles. Think T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’: 'I have measured out my life in coffee spoons'. French talent Céline Condorelli’s fluttering gold curtain, ‘Structure for Communicating with Wind’, draws on architecture and notions of support, with a metallicised space blanket wafting in space.

Artspace: Embassy of Non-Participation
43-51 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
A former artists’ squat turned experimental gallery, Artspace is showing London artist duo Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, including neon work ‘You are the Prime Minister’, backdropped by plush red curtains.

ABOVE: Karen Mirza/Brad Butler, 'You are the Prime Minister', 2014, neon
BELOW: Daniel Boyd, 'What Remains', 2016, site-specific installation, mirrored dots, synthetic polymer paint; Keg de Souza, 'We Built This City' installation, 2016, tents, tarps, hessian sacks, mixed media; Bo Christian Larsson, 'Fade Away, Fade Away, Fade Away,' 2016, mixed-media and performative installation

In-between Spaces
Scattered around town, fringe installations and acts also beckon, especially in the inner-west. One of our favourites is at Redfern Wall on the corner of Vine and Eveleigh streets near aboriginal heartland The Block. ‘What Remains’, by Sydney Kudjila/Gangalu artist Daniel Boyd, is a site-specific constellation of 12,000 mirrored dots covering a chunky corner of wall, backed by black paint. It shimmers and sparkles, reflecting passersby, and looks inky black or midnight blue depending on the light. For 'We Built This City', Perth-born Keg de Souza constructs a patchwork tent dwelling on Redfern's Vine Street. Wrapping up, literally, on a deathly note, Swede Bo Christian Larsson’s ‘Fade Away, Fade Away, Fade Away’ sees gravestones in Newtown’s Camperdown Cemetery covered in white fabric, creating ghostly sculptures from found-objects. Whipped up in his on-site workshop, they look not unlike pale Scandi chair covers. Who said art and decor can't be bedfellows?

The 20th Biennale of Sydney runs at citywide venues until Sunday 5 June 2016
biennaleofsydney.com.au