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Media Release • 8 Mar 23

Design sensation Bethan Laura Wood receives the 2023 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission

8 March 2023: The NGV and MECCA have announced London-based designer Bethan Laura Wood as the recipient of the 2023 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission, 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. The first and only commission series of its kind in Australia, the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission creates a platform to present topical, world-premiere works of international significance to highlight the contributions and practices of female designers to Australian and global audiences.

MECCA’s support of this commission will strengthen the representation of women in the NGV’s Collection of Contemporary Design and Architecture and advance the NGV’s ongoing efforts towards redressing historical gender imbalance in the Collection.

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.

Opening in December 2023, Wood’s installation for the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission ingeniously combines a range of elements, including furniture, textiles and scenography, to delve into the gendered history of education and learning.

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 roles played by gender.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘The NGV is delighted to announce Bethan Laura Wood as the recipient of the 2023 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission, an inspiring multidisciplinary designer who embraces an artistic agenda fuelled by experimentation to create unique and flamboyant furniture, objects, textile and interior designs.

‘The NGV is grateful to MECCA for their visionary support to profile the practices of 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.’

Bethan Laura Wood said: ‘I am honoured to produce new works which will become a permanent addition to the NGV Collection. This commission, supported by MECCA, will allow deeper exploration into my practice of material investigations and offers a unique opportunity to present my contemporary design pieces in conversation with historical works from the NGV Collection.’

 Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao presented the inaugural MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission in 2022, an installation titled La ropa sucia se lava en casa (Dirty clothes are washed at home), drawing on the notion of clothing as a symbol of protection for the body. Bilbao’s work is on display at NGV International until 19 March 2023.

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

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