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Fringe Furniture

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
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Challenge your concept of furniture design
Fringe Furniture, a consistent feature of the Melbourne Fringe Festival since 1986, launches this year on 14th September and runs throughout the festival. Located this year at the Abbotsford Convent, and featuring the works of more than 100 designers, Fringe Furniture is set to once again raise some eyebrows with its cutting edge designs and concept pieces.

The challenge set by Melbourne Fringe this year is: 'Make a statement. Make a difference. It's time to step out of the Echo Chamber', and it seems designers have embraced the concept in the 'boundary-pushing' furniture, lighting, homewares, wearable objects, permanent and ephemeral works on display.

Fringe Furniture 31
Luke Macmahon's 'A coffee table for two people to have coffee'. (Designer's image)


Exhibiting artist Luke Macmahon's piece A coffee table for two people to have coffee is a response to the frustrating political climate. "A politician adapts their beliefs on an hourly basis to accommodate whatever is trending," explains Macmahon. "Furniture often manifests itself in this way, attempting to serve too many functions and appeal to as many people as possible – resulting in unattractive pieces that we cannot trust." His design allows two users only two functions: a drink and a discussion. "Beauty is found in its simplicity and genuine ability to perform its function," said Macmahon.

Many designers have responded to issues of sustainability, using recycled and reclaimed materials in innovative ways. For example, Morgan Doty of Experimental Design's CYMK_chair is made from used paper, challenging the idea of waste. "The making process involves moulding paper pulp by hand over a digitally fabricated form, expressing how these tools can push the capabilities of materials and structures," said Doty.

Fringe Furniture 31
Morgan Doty's 'CYMK chair' - made from used paper. (Designer's image)


Nancy Ji's Archie table, a Concept Design category finalist at this year's VIVID Design Competition, is made using a single sheet of material, minimising waste in design. "A round top is cut out creating arched legs, minimising waste and off cuts", said Ji. "The design slots together, making it easily flat packed for transportation."

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Nancy Ji's 'Archie Table. (Designer's image)'


Audiences are invited to meet the makers with Fringe Furniture's Artist-led Tours taking place at 3pm on Sunday 17th and 24th September, and 1st October, offering the chance to learn more about the artists' creative processes. These tours are free, but bookings are essential.

There are also Audio Described Tactile Tours available with experienced accessibility guides, taking place at 11am on Saturday 16th September, and 1pm on Thursday 28th September. The tours will involve tactile interactions with selected pieces and an audio description of the exhibition. While the tours are designed for vision impaired visitors, all are welcome to attend. Again, the tours are free, but bookings are essential.

Fringe Furniture can be viewed at Rosina Auditorium, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford. It is open from 11am to 5pm from Wednesday to Sunday from 14th September to 1st October.

Admission is free.
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Why? Cutting edge designs that make a statement
When: 11am - 5pm Thursday to Sunday between 14th September and 1st October
Phone: (03) 9660 9600
Where: Rosina Auditorium, Abbotsford Convent, 1-3 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford
Cost: FREE
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