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Insider Guide to The Future is Here Exhibition

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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An Exclusive Interview with Design Hub Curator Fleur Watson
the future is now rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography


I remember the cutting-edge exhibition in London, 'The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution' by the Design Museum and the Technology Strategy Board established by the UK government in July 2013. It illustrated how advances in manufacturing technologies were transforming everyday lives and disrupting the way products were designed, developed and produced.

the future is now rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography


Slightly more than a year later, the innovation-centric exhibition arrived on the shores of Melbourne on 28 August 2014. While the local iteration displayed the internationally-sourced works from the Design Museum in London, it also showcases new ideas and technologies drawn from the RMIT Design Hub research community of craftspeople, artists, architects and designers. A highlight is the 'The Future is Here Factory' where you can witness some of the new manufacturing techniques that are changing the design world and also fabrication tools small enough to use at home which removes the conventional chain of designers, developers, technicians, machinists and distributors.
fleur watson
Fleur Watson / Photo courtesy of Peter Bennetts

While I had to spend more than £11 for a ticket to the London exhibition, admission to 'The Future is Here' (TFIH) in Melbourne is completely FREE. Thanks goes to the good folks at RMIT Design Hub, and one of them is Curator Fleur Watson. Fleur is working with colleague Kate Rhodes to curate this exhibition. In addition to her role as Curator of RMIT Design Hub, she is also the co-founder of Pin-up Project Space, Collingwood and an editor specialising in architecture and design. Originally from Perth, Fleur now calls Melbourne home.

I managed to catch up with Fleur to get the inside story of the exhibition and why she feels everyone should visit before "the future was here" on 11 October 2014.

Lionel: What was the inspiration behind curating TIFH?

Fleur: Bringing from London's Design Museum to Melbourne, for the first time beyond the UK, provided a series of critical leaping-off points for RMIT Design Hub as a place for making, thinking, discussing and exhibiting new ideas. The exhibition speaks to the impact of new technologies within the context of a 'third wave industrial revolution'. How do digital technologies such as 3D printing and robotic manufacturing infiltrate our homes, our workplaces, our meeting places, our streets, and how can we take an active role in shaping what this means for all of us?
the future is now rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography

Lionel: How long did it take you and your team to plan TFIH?

Fleur: It was a relatively rapid process compared to the traditional time-frame for developing a co-curated exhibition. We started working with the Design Museum in late 2013 and the curation process commenced in early 2014.

Lionel: How is TIFH Melbourne different from the exhibition in London?

Fleur: For Design Hub, the exhibition provided an additional 'call to action' to the Design Museum's central premise for the show —one sited in the presentation of propositional and provocative ideas. As a purpose-designed building dedicated to a community of inter-disciplinary design researchers, we saw an opportunity to curate an additional Melbourne-based series of speculative projects where ideas and new technologies meet at the very forefront of innovation. In this way, the exhibition at Design Hub takes a step back from the high street to present research projects that inform the development of digital production and also which query the fetishization of the machine. As curators, we felt it vital to seize the exhibition environment itself as an opportunity to present local design research.

the future is now rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography


Lionel: Why is this exhibition relevant to Melbourne?

Fleur: Design Hub is dedicated to showcasing the 'arc' of design research. That is, the often messy, process side of design practice and all its phases including conception, prototyping, evaluation, outcome and archive. In presenting at Design Hub we continue this direction and encourage the mingling of audiences with ideas in action so as to open up expert knowledge as widely as possible. The designed future is surely about generating greener, smarter and better outcomes for us all. With new technologies, techniques and relationships made possible via digital networks each of us will have a hand in making sure that the experience of the future really is here for everyone.

the future is now rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography


Lionel: What should visitors pay attention to when viewing your exhibition?

Fleur: An important aspect of the exhibition's exhibition environment is that the design of the exhibition is a large-scale 'exhibit' within itself. Designed by Studio Roland Snooks, the structure coined 'The Composite Wing' merges robotic fabrication, CNC milling and laser cutting technologies with traditional boat building techniques. The result is a suite of tables and display surfaces whose structural and ornamental features are created through a digital translation of the natural swarming systems of birds, fish and insects. Additionally to the many tests, objects and films to view of various projects from the speculative to the high street, there is also a Factory at work within the exhibition space where you can view and be involved in 3D printing tests, witness students testing non-traditional materials such as chocolate with their 'hacked' Messy Printer and see the two small 'dancing' robots in action bending materials for live research projects.
the future is now rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography

Lionel: What can the public take away from TFIH?

Fleur: A sense of plurality and critical questioning is what we hope visitors will take from at Design Hub. We set out to ensure that the exhibition provides a multi-layered lens through which to see new technologies at work and a platform to provoke debate about their role in everyday life via our series of talks, workshops and interactive programming.

Visitor Notes: RMIT Design Hub is a new kind of creative environment in Melbourne that brings design researchers together with interested public to talk, learn and do design. Hosted in conjunction with the 'BLOOM' installation, 'The Future is Here' exhibition at the Design Hub is currently unavailable around Australia so make sure you drop by the Design Hub to check it out before the exhibition closes.
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Why? The Future is Here in RMIT Design Hub Melbourne
When: Tuesday to Friday: 11am – 6pm / Saturday: 12pm – 5pm / Closed Sunday, Monday and Public Holidays
Where: RMIT Design Hub
Cost: Free entry
Your Comment
This is a fantastic exhibition for both adults and older kids. Some of the technology was a real eye-opener, and one of the industrial design students was really kind in taking the time to answer some questions on his 3-D printing project. We also loved the display boards and short video clips. Well done and thanks, RMIT!
by abbyl (score: 2|115) 1754 days ago
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