As promised here is some of the Containerval program!
And where to find Containerval!
We now have a 2013 Company Profile summarising Vibrant Places and our Projects.
Brisbane Diner en Blanc 2013 was in September and we have just released the official video, made by the skilful Blueroom Productions.
Diner en Blanc Brisbane this year was a challenging journey this year. The event has evolved from a simple activation in 2012, to doubling in size and becoming a major event in 2013.
The scale is so large now that we will be requiring the assistance of an Events Manager in 2014. Please contact me if you are interested.
Brooke and I started Diner en Blanc in Brisbane because we were interested in activating public spaces, and showing off the best of our city. In 2012 we selected Southbank as the "secret location" to show off one of the best public spaces, in our city, to the world.
In 2013 we chose an unusual and very unexpected space. No one guessed Northshore, Hamilton - and a site that we be future units! This space was on the river, had views to the city skyline and the picturesque Gateway Bridge. Logistically the site was also flat, grassed, was accessible by bus, was the right size for 2,300 people and had fencing required to license the space.
We fulfilled our aim of showing off Brisbane to the world, and introduced a new (and future iconic) space to our guests. We know that in 20 years time when the Northshore space is developed (particularly our site, which will be units), everyone will look back proudly that they experienced something that will never be experienced again in that space.
This year has been a series of ups-and-downs. In 2012 we listened too much to the negative feedback, and tried to change our event to make those people happy. Instead we made other guests unhappy in 2013 with these changes.
We have learnt that out of 2,300 people you will not make everyone happy, and unfortunately the negative comments, always seem to be the loudest.
But we have recognised that some people will never be happy, and we have learnt what works and what doesn't for the majority of people.
We have to recognise that the event has grown bigger than ourselves, and all of the amazing people that help Brooke and I. We are not Events Managers (but have probably learnt all the skills we want to become ones, if we wanted to). We however, don't want to be Events Managers, we are Urban Designers who activate public spaces with pop-up interventions. So we need help so that the event can continue to be successful.
For 2014 we want to focus on what we do best, activating public space - not managing the whole event.
So to start our planning in activating public space with Diner en Blanc we must select the 2014 location ... where do you want to see it in 2014?
It's just under 2 weeks until Containerval Festival and here are some images of its progression. Big thankyou to Randal and his team for Construction and the QUT students for designing the containers.
... but there is still more to come, and I look forward to the 2nd November when you can all come and enjoy it!
Also make sure you check out the newly released program. There are going to be some amazing acts like Tom Thum, Sampology, Boss Cats and Michelle Xen!
22nd July 2013
30th September 2013
9th October 2013
14th October 2013
16th October 2013
21st October 2013
As the 2012/2013 Queensland Emerging Design leader I travelled to London for the London Design Festival. Here is another post about my experience:
The London Design Festival was focused around the V&A, and as I discussed previously there were some fantastic installations, however the highlight for me as a Landscape Architect and designer, was not the festival installations, but the courtyard at the V&A.
The design was simple with some classic urban elements, such as:
The focus of the courtyard was a very shallow water element, with steps into it and pop-jet fountains.
The water created a simple reflective element accentuating the surrounding buildings, but also you could actually walk into it! It wasn't surrounded by fences and it was shallow enough just to dip your toes in.
This space would be perfect in Queensland. Wouldn't you love to dip your toes in water in our summer!
The space complements the historical buildings surrounding it through its formality and symmetry.
There was an outdoor cafe to activate the space, however it did not overpower the space, and you still felt like you could enjoy yourself without feeling like you had to buy something.
Public Moveable Seats
I could talk all night about why moveable seats are so important in public spaces, and I took about 50 photos of moveable seats in public spaces throughout London and Paris on my trip ... watch this space some of my insights and images in the near future!
To me this space was an almost text book example of what elements you need to make a great place, however you can have all these elements and for whatever reason it doesn't work, but ...
... this space worked!
One simple criteria that shows it works was that there were lots of people there, and they were a mixture of cultures, backgrounds and ages - the measure of success in a public space!
As the 2012/2013 Queensland Emerging Design leader I travelled to London for the London Design Festival. Here is another post about my experience:
The London Design Festival is focused around the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), which was the perfect place for a design hub in London; modern installations commissioned for the festival were juxtaposed with pieces of historical art.
The most striking and complementary to its surrounds was "The Wind Portal" by Najia El Zerin.
The piece accentuated the large doorway and altered the way that people used the space.
It was tactile, visual, kinetic and auditory, with wind blowing through the tubes creating a pleasing white noise, like moving water.
I also very much enjoyed - seaweed piece - made from actual seaweed (which you could smell when you got close) and the striking entry chandeliers.
On my London Design adventure I visited the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the urban redevelopment of the 2012 Olympic site. Only a small part of the development is currently open to the public, with more opening in 2014.
Significant events, such as Olympics (or in Brisbane's case Expo 88) can be fantastic catalysts for urban renewal.
Andrew Comer from Buro Happold kindly briefed me on the work they had done at the site, so I had a good understanding before I went.
I was particularly interested in the transformation of the polluted waterways on site. In the open part of the site, Buro Happold have revegetated the waterways and created an open parkland which is looking fantastic.
If you arrive by Metro, you are forced to enter the site through a huge Westfield's Shopping Centre complex.
The shopping centre is a huge attractor. It was packed on the day that I went. The rest of the Olympic grounds and parklands weren't as popular, but it could have been because I visited on a very cold and rainy day.
There is less open to bring people to the Olympic site currently. With such large scale developments there is quite a risk of losing the "human scale". They are preparing to have a large amount of people live, work and play in this area, so the buildings are being built tall and the roads are being built wide, but they are all empty.
There is a risk that people will feel isolated in the place without activity and will decide to not invest and thus not live, work or play.
I did however see some great attempts being made to make the place more inviting through small scale activations such as sculpture, playgrounds, music performances, small events and activities. I hope this continues as I believe it is vital to making the place more vibrant and thus more attractive.
My favourite activation are these fantastic Ping Pong tables! I just wish I could have seen people playing them.
These elements give the large development site Olympic Park more of a "human-scale" feeling These elements fill in these large spaces between the tall buildings and open spaces.
The site features some fantastic children's playgrounds. The adventure playground made from branches was stunning, however part of it was closed off and unaccessible. I wondered whether it would have issues in the future. I couldn't imagine a playground like this ever getting approved in Queensland, with our strict safety guidelines.
It will take time to see whether the planning of this development is a success. In the meantime, they have scheduled more large scale events, and I am happy to see they will continue the smaller "human-scale" activations.
The interview for the Queensland Emerging Design Leader Award was tough, there were a lot of tricky questions. One simple (and tricky question) was “Is what you do Design?”. Of course this question is pivotal to the award.
To me design is a creative process, which is focused on solution/s to a problem/s. It is the focus on solutions that makes design differ from art.
Effective design process includes identifying a problem, and researching and understanding a problem before any solutions are identified.
My Games Night @ King George Square project started with the identification of the problem of segregation of people in Brisbane's society. I researched and brainstormed about these groups in Brisbane (people of different generations, cultures and socio-economic situations) and tried to find an activity and a place that could encourage interactions.
The solution was Giant Board Games in a public space in Brisbane. Everyone can play the games, and the giant nature of the games encourages interaction by different people, and the fact that it is a public space means that everyone feels comfortable and invited.
The solution or the problem is not always obvious, and in Games Night the attendees would never be aware of the underlying work and the background to the event, and that to me is good design.
The London Design Festival is quite visually design focused with more of an emphasis on graphic design, industrial design and digital design sectors, but I believe design principles are inherent in every profession and can inspire me and what I do.
Over the next few weeks I will share with you what I've learnt from London and the London Design Festival.
Now I am London for the London Design Festival, I have been reflecting back on my application for the Queensland Emerging Design Leader Award. This award allowed me to travel here, and experience the London Design Festival.
I wanted to share with you some of my application, particularly my answers to questions about Design.
1) Describe your approach to design and your design principles.
Design is powerful. Design leads change.
In the words of Robert L. Peters, “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”
My approach to design is to constantly observe the world around me, learn from it, learn from my peers, learn from other places, watch, learn, observe … and notice. Notice when things aren’t right, when a change can be made for the better, and then imagine (or dream) a better solution and then design …
If I want to make a change I will go out of my way to make it happen, and with this attitude I’ve found that it really is possible. You just have to have the courage to tell people your ideas, the patience to wait for the right time, for your idea to bloom, and then have the heart to listen and see what people really, really do need.
I tell my students that bad design is everywhere and we shouldn’t just copy what has already been done. We should get back to the heart of the idea and really question “why, why, but why?”
A mentor of mine, David Engwicht told me to question design like a child would; to keep asking why has something been done, to really get down to the societal root of the issue. If in the end the whys lead to “I don’t know, it’s the way it’s always been done”, then something is wrong! This is one of my design principles; to always question what has been done and find a better way of doing it, to not just copy bad design, because “it’s the way it’s always been done”.
Another of my core principles as a designer is to Share! I have so many design ideas to enact change that I am not afraid of someone appropriating them and making them happen! I would be more than happy. I want to see change and so I am more than happy to share.
2) What is your vision and what are your goals, both personal and professional, as a designer?
My vision, as a designer, is to leave place better than when I started. Everything I do reflects this approach.
I started my business Vibrant Places in 2010 and have been endeavouring to make my ideas happen ever since. My design projects at Vibrant Places focus on designing public spaces and activating public spaces so that they are truly public (open to everyone), a place (not just a space), reflect a city’s culture and encourage tolerance and respect.
Design should be participatory to be effective for the community. My focus is on designing activations for a space rather than re-designing a space from scratch. The community should always be involved in the design of a public space, but conventional methods usually don’t work. I am inspired by the approach of Engwicht who will test ideas with the community before designing. For example to design where a public bench would go Engwicht will place temporary seating and the community can move it to where they think it should go, before the final bench was finally bolted.
I aim to design an experience with my public spaces, rather than just objects “plonked” into a space. This experience extends to the realm of virtual public space - the internet, particularly with the burgeoning community spaces such as fFcebook. All of my projects have a virtual/online presence as well as a physical presence. These two community spaces complement each other and encourage positive interactions.
I want to continue to travel and learn. To be a great designer you have to continually learn, you can never stop. You must always have a fresh perspective, keep questioning and seek new solutions.
I am currently in London for the London Design Festival to be inspired and bring back what I've learnt to apply and share in Queensland.
I am here because of a bursary I was awarded when I won the Queensland Emerging Design Leader Award in 2012. Although the award is not continuing, I intend to share my experiences via this blog.
The London Design Festival in 2013 is focused around the phrase “Design is Everywhere” and “acts as a reminder that design is all around us, permeating every part of our lives”.
I am here particularly to see the Landmark Projects which are described as the “centrepiece of the festival”.
The Landmark Projects are works by designers in public spaces. The aim of these Landmark Projects is often similar to my projects with my practice. The London Design Festival website describes them as, “spectacular, intelligent large scale installations, often created with public participation in mind, and you have a way of making great design a tangible, celebrated addition to London's cityscape”
I want to see what other designers around the world will design for the public spaces in London and learn from their activations. I believe it is important to experience the best, cutting edge design in the world and be influenced for my designs.
I also have tickets to go to the Global Design Forum which will be an international conversation on design. The forum will ask:
See the line up of speakers here.
I want to soak in as much as I can from the London Design Festival. I want to learn through observation how people interact with the activations and research what were the aims of the designers.
As well as experiencing the Design Festival I am also here to experience the Urban Design and Urban Renewal Projects of London. So to start my journey, yesterday I met with Andrew Comer a Director at Buro Happold.
Andrew has given me a huge list of places to see in London, and briefed me on the background of each project, giving me an insiders view of each of the places. I really appreciate he giving me his time to introduce me to his city and to hear about the great work at Buro Happold.
Over the next few weeks I will share what I have experienced in London with my unique perspective of a designer in Queensland.