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Q+A with DEN Fair advisory board members

Q+A with DEN Fair advisory board members


Den Fair advisory board.

As DEN Design Fair prepares to open its doors to the public tomorrow, we catch up with some of the advisory board who have been moulding the inaugural fair with their years of expertise. Leaders within the design industry, the board members share with ADR how they have contributed to DEN, current issues within the design industry and, of course, what continues to ignite their passion for design.

1) As part of its esteemed advisory board, in what ways have you contributed your expertise to the inaugural Den Fair?

Anton Assaad of Great Dane: In terms of our stand, creating a concept that is all about the senses with a smell of aniseed, a taste of aniseed and the beautiful colour of the fennel bulbs. It’s about being true to our brand and creating a space that draws people in.

Mim Fanning of Mim Design: As part of the board, I have assisted in helping define a new fair (including the DEN Awards) that assists as a platform to show Australian designers, suppliers and craftsmen within the design industry, covering specifiers through to client.

Richard Munao of CULT: From the very beginning, we have been a strong supporter of DEN Furniture and Design Fair, as we believe it is important to truly nurture local design talent, as well as focus on authentic design. This has been our own vision since Cult was founded 18 years ago and we contribute with our experience in how to promote these fields.We believe creating a successful fair depends on a number of elements, such as the quality of exhibitors, scope of design and the timing of the fair, all of which was discussed by the advisory board. We also hope to see positive results from timing DEN Fair to coincide with Melbourne International Design Week.

Fleur Sibbel of Zuster: With 20 years of experience at Zuster, I have exhibited and attended many trade fairs around the world. Together with the outstanding advisory board, I think we have all contributed to create an unprecedented trade fair that truly supports good Australian design and has excited and engaged the interior designers and architects. We have experienced such a positive buzz from our clients about the fair. Everyone is talking about it and, most importantly, planning to attend!

2) What are you most looking forward to checking out during Melbourne International Design Week?

Mim Fanning: I am most looking forward to the Den Fair on the Thursday and Friday. It will be great to see and re-engage with existing and new suppliers to review new and existing products.

Richard Munao: As DEN Furniture and Design fair is launching for the first time, we look forward to seeing all the creativity unfold at the fair and are excited to see the attraction that it will get from the design community. As a unique visitor experience, we are presenting a new exhibition concept, curated in a strong colour-blocking theme with black, blue, red and grey spaces that we can’t wait to see ourselves. Aside from the fair, we look forward to the design talk ‘Nordic Design – Future Influence’ taking place at NGV International on 15 May. We experience the ongoing influence of Nordic design through the demand for our own Nordic brands, but are interested in Ewan McEoin’s take on this. Finally, we are big fans of the Melbourne Architours that explore the architecture and urban planning of Melbourne’s cool suburbs.

Fleur Sibbel: I am really excited to be involved in a trade fair that showcases and supports Australian design and manufacturing, with the key Australian brands involved.

3) What excites and frustrates you about design culture here in Australia?

Anton Assaad: What excites us is all the new young designers and smaller brands, both Australian and international, that are making their own way in the design world. What is frustrating is that we still seem to have a sense of cultural cringe when we envision Australia at the forefront of design in comparison to European super-brands.

Mim Fanning: What excited me about the design culture in Australia is that we have an expansive design ability that is recognised internationally. What frustrates me is long lead times when specifying overseas items.

Richard Munao: At Cult we are excited by the rise of Australian and New Zealand design with talents as Adam Goodrum, Henry Wilson and Nathan Goldsworthy really putting their mark on the local, as well as international, design scene. These designers are not restricted by an ingrained design culture and there is an openness here that results in unique design. However, the lax legislation to protect authentic design in Australia continues to damage our industry with the growing number of replicas across the country. As a member of the Authentic Design Alliance, we continue to support the integrity of original, authentic design, and hope for positive change in this area as we see in Europe and other parts of the world.

Fleur Sibbel: I am very excited to be designing and manufacturing in Australia at the moment. We have seen several years of good growth with clients really appreciating the design, quality, flexibility, customisation and short lead times that local manufacturing offers.


Visiting DEN this weekend? Share the #bestofDEN15 and win! 1st prize is a bespoke table created by Canberra-based concreter Tony Woods and Melbourne-based speciality craftsman Michael Hayes for Makers Lane. Second and third prizes include subscriptions to AR and (inside)Click here for full details.


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