Installation view of Bethan Laura Wood’s work <em>Kaleidoscope-a-rama</em>, 2023, for the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Kate Shanasy<br/>
Arun Sankaragal Photography
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Installation view of Bethan Laura Wood’s work Kaleidoscope-a-rama, 2023, for the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Kate Shanasy
Media Release • 5 Dec 23

Bethan Laura Wood Kaleidoscope-o-rama: 2023 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission

5 December 2023: London-based designer Bethan Laura Wood has unveiled Kaleidoscope-o-rama, 2023, the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission, on display until 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne.

Presented as part of NGV Triennial 2023, the Commission includes two new major works Kaleidoscope-o-rama, carpet and Kaleidoscope-o-rama, bookcase, each conceived in dialogue with Regency era (c. 1811–20) works from the NGV Collection and presented among an immersive audio-visual display.

For the commission, Wood reinterprets the colours, textures, materials and forms found in British Regency salons, to foreground the social phenomena of the period and draw out the continuing social values of equality and open access to education that were spearheaded by women at the time. As part of her research into the commission, Wood references the Bluestocking literary society, Regency era design, and books including Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminist text A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, London, 1792.

The works are a masterclass in Wood’s signature design principles reflecting her expert application of colour and pattern paired with her close collaboration with artisan makers. Wood’s five-tiered, hexagon-shaped bookcase takes on the geometry of a kaleidoscope in three-dimensions. The bookcase features custom designed tessellated timber veneer tiles in vibrant colours inspired by the Regency period developed in collaboration with the Italian manufacturer Alpi. Books by authors that Wood researched for the project will be displayed on the bookshelf, in a nod to the importance of broad access to education.

Drawing on the kaleidoscope pattern of the bookcase veneer, Wood designed a hand-tufted hexagonal wool carpet made by long-time collaborator CC Tapis, Italy.

The scenography is complemented by animated kaleidoscope wall projections and audio readings of passages from literature Wood read during her research of the period for the Commission offering visitors a glimpse into the experience of a Regency-era salon.

Of the new Commission Bethan Laura Wood said: “I am so excited to see all the different elements come together in one space, creating a vibrating conversation of colour, pattern and movement, taking on my vision of a contemporary Bluestocking parlour for shared conversation and contemplation.”

The MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission is a major series inviting internationally renowned female designers and architects to create a significant new work for the NGV Collection. Wood is the second recipient of the annual, five-year commission series, which has been made possible by a significant contribution from MECCA’s social change program, M-POWER, which champions equality and opportunity for women and girls, including elevating women in art and design.

Since establishing her eponymous design studio in 2009, Wood’s radical approach to materiality, colour, and pattern has garnered a cult following. Fascinated with the cultural and historical significance of surface design and colour in domestic space and the interior, she explores unlikely combinations of colour and shape, developing unique timber veneers, material composites and textiles for furniture, lighting, objects, installations, and accessories.

Wood has presented work at Design Miami, Victoria and Albert Museum and Sketch, London; and has works held in permanent collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, SFMOMA and Victoria and Albert Museum.

While her style is often described as “maximalist,” Wood’s creative work is layered with meaning, designed to engage on an emotional and intellectual level. Wood’s installation at the NGV draws inspiration from diverse British eighteenth and nineteenth century references, including the kaleidoscope, Regency furniture, and the women’s intellectual network known as ‘Bluestockings’. Her work invites audiences to contemplate how knowledge has been learned and shared throughout time and the role played by gender.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘Through this work Bethan Laura Woods has embraced the mission of the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission by producing a work representative of the highest quality artisan craftsmanship and platforming women’s issues, with a focus on historical access to education.’

‘The NGV is grateful to MECCA for their ongoing and visionary support profiling the practices of globally leading female designers and to enrich the NGV Collection for current and future generations to admire.’

Jo Horgan, founder and co-CEO, MECCA, and NGV Foundation board member said: ‘The enormous talent and contribution of designers like Bethan remind us how important it is to ensure that women are represented not just in design schools, but in studios, galleries and leadership positions in the design industry. Bethan’s multidisciplinary approach also reminds us that creativity, diverse thinking and curiosity can achieve remarkable things, and help us to see the world in new ways. MECCA M-POWER is all about championing equality and opportunities for women and girls, and we’re so delighted to be able to help bring Bethan’s work to new audiences and inspire women and girls in Australia to dream big.’

The 2023 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission will be on display in the NGV Triennial 2023 from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Free entry. Further information is available via the NGV website:

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