The Cicely and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award is a generous legacy of the late Colin Rigg (1895 – 1982), a former Trustee and Secretary of the Felton Bequest Committee for the National Gallery of Victoria. The Cicely and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award was established to support Victorian artists. With a prize of $30,000, it is arguably the most prestigious award of its kind in Australia and is a reflection of the NGV’s ongoing commitment to contemporary craft and design practice.
The exhibitions associated with the Award have each been devoted to a particular design discipline. Previous exhibitions have showcased metalwork, ceramics, textiles, and jewellery. In 2009 the focus is on seat furniture design.
With their ultimate origins in the Great Exhibitions of the 19th Century, design awards remain important today. By inviting self-reflection and self-critique, these awards allow designers to pause and take stock of current practice and identify for themselves outstanding achievements in their field.
The works on display are informed by a broad range of social, environmental, material, and aesthetic concerns. Some designers evidence an interest in environmental issues through the use of recycled and sustainable materials, and efficient transportation and storage through flat-packing or collapsibility. Other designers have produced seats with multiple configurations or that accommodate multiple sitters, reflecting an interest in the way furniture can shape people’s interactions with one another and the spaces they inhabit. Elegant simplicity remains a central concern for some while others explore the possibilities inherent in innovative materials.
Every work included in this exhibition embodies the potential to become a ‘design classic’ of the future.