Waterwall, NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Photo: Timothy Herbert<br/>
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Media Release • 6 Mar 15

NGV announces a new era in design and architecture

A raft of new design initiatives, including the creation of the Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture was revealed today by the National Gallery of Victoria. The department, the first of its kind for an art gallery in Australia, will spearhead the gallery’s vision to become a leading international hub for design.

Heading the announcement was the appointment of two of Australia’s foremost design professionals to the NGV – Ewan McEoin and Simone LeAmon.

Tony Ellwood, Director of the NGV said, ‘We are thrilled to launch the Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture by announcing the appointments of Ewan and Simone to the NGV team. Ewan and Simone are at the forefront of the creative industries in Australia and will bring a strong industry perspective, connections and ideas to the Gallery.’

Ewan McEoin brings two decades of experience in the Australian design industry to the gallery and will lead the new department while also working across future design strategy and new retail initiatives at the NGV. Simone LeAmon brings a diverse skillset to the department having worked for two decades as a visual artist, industrial designer, businessperson, industry consultant, curator, writer and university lecturer. The two new positions have been funded through the generous philanthropic support of The Hugh D.T. Williamson Foundation.

This new Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture will work closely with the local and international design industries collecting, presenting and exploring the most interesting trajectories of design and architecture.

Tony Ellwood commented, ‘The NGV has a rich history and association with design and architecture. Our renewed approach is integral to the NGV’s thinking, with design permeating all areas and platforms of the institution – not only through our collection, exhibitions and programs – but also through architecture, way finding, exhibition, retail, hospitality and digital design. Ewan and Simone’s contribution will bring vitality and bold ideas to all of these arenas.’

A number of other design initiatives were announced:

• In 2016 NGV will open the Design Project Space at NGVA to present a diverse program of design and architecture projects, exhibitions, films and conversations to explore key ideas and issues in design and architecture.
• Shortlisted artists for the revitalised Rigg Design Prize were announced including the award, for the first time in its twenty-year history going national in response to Australia’s burgeoning design culture. Presented by the NGV the triennial prize of $30,000 is awarded to an Australian contemporary designer displaying outstanding creative achievements in design production. – The 2015 Rigg Design Prize shortlist includes Brodie Neill, Khai Liew, Adam Goodrum, Daniel Emma, Kate Rohde, Korban Flaubert, Koskela and Elcho Island Weavers.
• NGV Commission for Ephemeral architecture – Each year submissions will be sought from architects and designers to offer innovative designs for a temporary outdoor installation in the NGV’s Grollo Equiset garden. For 2015 the inaugural Commission has been developed by John Wardle Architects for their project entitled ‘I Dips Me Lid’. Taking inspiration from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, an iconic public performance venue in Melbourne, I Dips Me Lid will be a theatrical centerpiece offering shade, retreat and a place for performance and workshops.
NGV design store – Recently rebranded and restocked, the NGV design store and online shop will collaborate with leading designers, artists and manufacturers to produce, present and showcase design products from local and international designers.

Events and programs announced include:

Design Speaks: Housing Futures – 31 July 2015
Featuring local and international architects, including Charles Renfro (New York), Kerstin Thompson (Melbourne) and Philip Thalis (Sydney) this event is presented in partnership with Architecture Media.
Parallels – Journeys into Contemporary Making – September 2015
The NGV in partnership with the National Craft Initiative (NCI) will present a major 2-day international conference designed to reframe conversations about contemporary craft and design practices. The event will explore important forces realigning the world of contemporary making including: material innovation; globalisation; digitisation; and the rise of the market for limited editions.
• 2017 NGV Triennial – work continues on this large-scale celebration of contemporary art design and architecture from around the world. Distinguishing itself from other contemporary art events, the NGV Triennial will provide a multidisciplinary focus on art, design and architecture, as well as fashion, film, performance and a variety of cultural practices.

Mr Ellwood concluded, ‘At the NGV we have a strong desire to create a dedicated and permanent home for design. Our future plans in this terrain are bold and ambitious, aimed at positioning the NGV and Australia firmly on the world stage as a leading hub for contemporary art, design and architecture.’


Ewan McEoin – The Hugh D.T. Williamson Senior Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture

Ewan has two decades of experience at the forefront of the Australian design industry working as an editor, design strategist, educator, curator and publisher.

McEoin was long standing Editor of (inside) Australia Design Review, Editor of the Sydney and Melbourne Design Guides, Co-Director of Australian Design Unit, Creative Director of the Victorian Government’s State of Design Festival and Unlimited the Queensland Government’s Asia Pacific Design Triennial. Ewan has led a diverse array of projects and programs that embrace design as an enabler of economic, social and ecological innovation.

Simone LeAmon – The Hugh D.T. Williamson Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture

Simone has worked internationally for two decades as a visual artist, industrial designer, industry consultant, curator, writer and university lecturer.

LeAmon’s practice as both a creative and design professional is renown for fostering dialogues between the creative disciplines of art and design and the corporate sectors. Exhibiting internationally her work has appeared at the Design Museum London, Milan Triennale and Salone del Mobile Milan. In 2009, Simone received The Cecily and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award, one of the most coveted accolades in Australian design, exclusive to the National Gallery of Victoria.