Excellence in design

Queensland College of Art Gallery, Brisbane
12 October- 2 November. 1988

Curated by Gail Rutherford, "Excellence in Design" brought together selected examples of contemporary work from a range of disciplines and used them to demonstrate the meaning of excellence in design. Samples of classic twentieth century design such as Richard Sapper's Tizio lamp and chairs by Bellini and others, were included by way of counterpoint to the contemporary exhibits. One of the aims of the exhibition was to show the relationship of design to everyday life and the connection between user and product. To exemplify these concepts the pieces ranged from the macrocosm of architecture to the microcosm of jewellery design.

Domestic architecture, such as Charton House, Bargara (Graham Davis & Associates) was contrasted with public structures such as Noel Robinson's Bundaberg Airport Terminal Building - an outstanding example of modern Australian architecture. In terms of interior design, the concepts of David McRae and Susan Savage for the Central Plaza Intelligent Office Competition underscored the two-way interaction between people, their surroundings and the objects which fill personal and corporate space.

Less grandiose, but equally pervasive and accessible, graphic design is a significant factor in determining ways of seeing the world. Its frozen imagery presents a predetermined viewpoint - one that reflects current modes of perception. The ebullient and experimental style of Malcolm Enright contrasted with the more restrained effects achieved in the work of the other designers.

The dramatic growth in indigenous Australian clothing design was represented in the work of Lyn Hadley and Daniel Lightfoot. Hadley's work displayed an uncompromising individuality, while Lightfoot's creation explored an exciting approach to classic design.

The jewellery display contrasted the fundamentally classic approach of Sel Pilgrim with the avant-garde forms of Sheridan Kennedy and Thomas Burless. Indeed, the selection of jewellery in many ways encapsulated the overall impression of the exhibition in terms of a tension between classic and contemporary design. A quote which accompanied one of the pieces by Barbara Heath has connotations which perhaps extend beyond the realm of her own discipline: "A language develops between maker, wearer and observer, advanced by the mystique of the object to an iconographic realm - the mythology of self."

With the exception of architecture and fashion, all the other areas of design represented in the exhibition are cultivated within the School of Design at Queensland College of Art. It is gratifying that the college has such a fine venue to enable it to host such imaginative exhibitions.