Home / World News / WA FIRST: Design Freo set to host Perth’s first ever design week in Fremantle next month

WA FIRST: Design Freo set to host Perth’s first ever design week in Fremantle next month

How does design and creativity impact our lives individually and communally?

That’s the question Pippa Hurst, creative director at Design Freo, is tackling with Western Australia’s first design-specific festival coming to Perth next month.

Fremantle Design Week, spanning eight days from October 14 to 21, will see creatives in their respective fields hosting interactive events aiming to inspire curiosity and open-up new perspectives.

Melbourne and Sydney have hosted design-oriented festivals for decades, but Hurst is determined to put Perth on the map and keep it there.

“WA has a wealth of design talent and it’s time to celebrate it,” she says.

“With the global challenges we now face, it’s more important than ever to look locally for the things we need. Fremantle Design Week is about building design culture in our State by sharing ideas and fostering new connections between creatives and the wider community.”

Multi-disciplinary artist Carla Adams, one of many creatives involved in the biannual Port city event, is hosting a discussion with Anya Brock, titled Tattoo You, on the evolution of tattoos in modern society.

The Curtin University graduate, who recently exhibited her work at AGWA, has experienced a unique ink journey of self-acceptance since getting her first tattoo 20 years ago. She challenges the sentiment that tattoos require meaningful value.

“(The) notion of forever is not really the same as it used to be anymore, things don’t seem as permanent,” she says.

“Everything is so temporary or on demand these days, and there’s not really anything that is built to last so why should the body be any different?”

Leith Groves, Harriette Gordon, Carla Adams and Angus McBride are all taking part in Fremantle Design Wee.
Camera IconLeith Groves, Harriette Gordon, Carla Adams and Angus McBride are all taking part in Fremantle Design Wee. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Adams admits that there was once a time where Perth creatives would complete their university degree and move over east because that is where the “thriving” industry was. This consequently left a “void” in Perth.

“I think that contributed to the idea that over WA was not the most exciting place to be if you’re a creative,” she admits.

“(But) I’ve noticed in the last 10 years, more people are either returning to Perth or staying here and I think that makes for a really vibrant theme.

“If you are in the creative industries (in Perth), you have to be resourceful, you have to be you a team player, you have to collaborate and there’s a real sense of friendship and collaboration with everybody. I really love it (and) I wouldn’t want to live or work anywhere else.”

Collaboration has been a vital survival tool for many artists, designers and creative businesses over the last few years during the pandemic, but the synergy show isn’t over just yet.

Angus McBride, co-director of design and production studio Remington Matters, has been cooking up a collaboration for Fremantle Design Week with his long-time friend and fellow creative, Jules Weston, of fashion label Hickey Hardware.

The pair created a bespoke couch and ottoman mixing both of their design techniques and aesthetics, in a way which McBride describes as refreshing.

“(Collaborating) is a good way to force yourself to use different ways of designing,” McBride explains.

Creating original designs has become increasingly difficult thanks to social media’s overwhelming influence, whether that be conscious or subconscious. But the South Fremantle-based architect admits that collaborating with Weston helped him go back to square one.

“Coming up with something unique is quite hard because there’s so much around,” he says.

“I almost wish I could ‘unsee’ every bit of furniture that I’d seen on Instagram so that I could try and start fresh with ideas. It’s really hard to not go scrolling through saving images of cool furniture because then as soon as you start drawing, something (from online) starts to come out even if it’s subconscious. So it’s really hard to go back to the start.”

There’s no doubt artists’ environments can influence their work heavily, whether that’s through social media or their geographical location.

Yindjibarndi artist Wimiya Woodley, who will be hosting a pop-up store at Fremantle Design Week with Indigenous Art Group Juluwarlu, takes inspiration from his Ngurra (country) and admits that creating art helped him emerge out of a bad place.

Wimiya Woodley with his painting Tree Rain Drops (2019)
Camera IconWimiya Woodley with his painting Tree Rain Drops (2019) Credit: Claire Martin

Woodley’s first painting titled Tree Rain Drops (2019), illustrated a tree that he says was “crying”.

“It was crying because it just received the rain for the first time in a long time, and it was a happy cry,” the WAAPA graduate says.

“I wasn’t in a good space at the time. I was doing a lot of drugs but painting really helped me get out of that head space of anxiety and depression.”

Woodley’s original artwork will be presented on various merchandise available for purchase at Juluwarlu’s pop-up event, including apparel and homewares.

The emerging artist is excited to be bringing Yindjibarndi culture and Juluwarlu to Fremantle Design Week, and hopes to spread the word about their rich culture.

“We don’t really have many people who know who Juluwarlu is and what Juluwarlu is about, and I want them to just be like, ‘the people of Juluwarlu and Yindibarndi are just incredible people’,” he says.

“I want them to share us on social media and spread the word of who we are.

“We are not here to just make these products from our people’s artworks, we’re here to tell a story and we’re here to stay. We are here to do whatever it takes to keep Yindibarndi alive.

Woodley inherited his passion for storytelling from his grandmother and mother, who were both artists, and his song-writing father.

“It is who I am, I wouldn’t be Wimiya Woodley without my storytelling. It has made me who I am today,” he says.

“Storytelling brings out a lot of good parts of you that you didn’t know you had, in a really delicate (and) safe way because you’re holding your own self while telling stories. You create someone really different in yourself.”

The anticipated festival will also host Monash University XYX Lab’s award-winning exhibition HyperSext City, which explores how gender impacts our experience of space, and poses important questions around how we can design safer cities for women and the LGBTQI+ community.

Renowned fashion consultant Leith Groves will be hosting a vintage pop-up store in her studio, as well as featuring in a ‘Fashion Critical’ conversation with fashion educator Lisa Pillar and designer Nita-Jane McMahon.

A number of Fremantle-based fashion designers will welcome the public into their creative spaces with open studios, including Harriette Gordon, Luka Rey, Pia Bennett and Empire Rose.

Find more information on Perth’s first design-based festival at fremantledesignweek.com

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