Recognising innovative and exciting furniture produced in modern-day Australia, Melbourne Design Week features the Australian Furniture Design Award (AFDA) ceremony. Presented by the National Gallery of Victoria and Stylecraft, the 2022 event sees Ashley Eriksmoen emerge victorious with her considered work ‘The Dream, or: the View from Here is Both Bleak and Resplendent’.
Since its establishment in 2015, the AFDA has cultivated a reputation as Australia’s richest furniture design prize. The coveted award emphasises originality in the field of furniture and lighting design whilst exploring factors such as critical and creative thinking, sustainability, material development and research that explores innovative production processes. In the prize’s short but fruitful history, winning designers have produced evocative and mindful works that have left the judges in awe – such pieces include a freestanding light and mirror by Seaton McKeon, a galactic, refined composition employing a circular motif; and an ‘Anthropic Bench’ by James Walsh, a sculpted proclamation of sustainability utilising rammed earth and recycled glass filings.
Based in Canberra, Ashley designs across the domains of the contemporary and critical, intent on transcending the boundaries imposed by each creative discipline and establishing an expanded conceptual field.
The prize proceeds a two-stage selection process where designers first supply a concept, alongside information on their professional practice, before being narrowed down to five remaining creatives. From there, the shortlisted designers are given an honorarium of $2,000 to realise their vision before they present at the Stylecraft showroom during Melbourne Design Week for judging. This year, winning designer Ashley Eriksmoen will receive AUD $20,000 with associated press activity, an invitation to collaborate with Stylecraft to develop a commercial range or product, as well as a residency at JamFactory. The residency offers an opportunity to develop a tailored program, along with access to facilities and technical assistants to prototype new work or explore new making processes in JamFactory’s ceramics, glass, furniture or metal and jewellery studios, as well as via local manufacturers.
Based in Canberra, Ashley designs across the domains of the contemporary and critical, intent on transcending the boundaries imposed by each creative discipline and establishing an expanded conceptual field. Inherent in her practice is a stout rejection of waste, resulting in thoughtful works that question the nature of inherited production practices. Ashley’s winning piece – which narrowly defeated the efforts of Chris Connell, Elliot Bastianon, Danielle Brustman and Trent Jansen Studio – critiques resource-intensive manufacturing processes and casts an analytical eye upon specific habits of consumption and the disruption of furniture architypes.
From its startling debut at Melbourne Design Week, Ashley’s work ‘The Dream, or: the View from Here is Both Bleak and Resplendent’ has received a glowing review from Simone LeAmon, Hugh D.T Williamson Curator of Contemporary Design & Architecture at the National Gallery of Victoria. “The winning work, with its 47 legs and canopy that overhangs like a cresting wave, is innovative and thought-provoking design that upcycles domestic timber furniture to demonstrate the potential of postconsumer waste,” says Simone, whose measured words are the result of over two decades in the field of design practice and study. “An exquisite construction, the furniture design belies a sombre yet critical message alerting us to the relationships between consumer waste, natural resources, deforestation and habitat destruction. The work implores us to consider strategies for creating sustainable new furniture designs from the wealth of resources that we already have at our disposal.”
Made from discarded timber furniture, the chaise reflects the native Australian landscape. The upholstery is dyed with Eucalyptus leaves and visually transitions from burnt orange to white, with the latter colour symbolising sheep. Formally, the chair is reminiscent of both poolside lounges and therapist couches, encouraging a steadfast tension between relaxation and rumination within the framework of environmental awareness. “Stylecraft are proud to be involved in such a prestigious award that fosters Australian designers and makers through professional mentoring and commercial production opportunities,” concludes Tony Russell, Stylecraft Brand Director. “We look forward to collaborating with Ashley on a new collection that aligns with the sustainable practices in the winning design.”