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UC team win coveted international design award

Elly Mackay

26 August 2022: A team from the University of Canberra has received an international design award for their submission entitled Re-pete in the MPavilion’s chair design competition.

The team from the University’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Mr Sam Tomkins, Mr Iain (Max) Maxwell, and Dr Ben Ennis-Butler were named the winners of the distinguished award, and their chair design will be produced and housed in the MPavilion throughout the 2022 season. All three members of the team specialise in the Faculty’s design space.

The chair is one of the key commissions of the MPavilion season, and will be featured to media, industry and international partners. It will also be on display as part of Craft Victoria’s upcoming exhibition The Chair.

Mr Tomkins said it was a great result for the team and the University.

“The MPavilion is a highly esteemed institution, and the chair commission is much sought after within the design community,” he said.

MPavilion is Australia’s leading architecture commission, and is described as a cultural laboratory where the community can come together and share. It sits in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens and becomes the focus of a free program season of cultural events, talks, performances, workshops, and installations.

Mr Tomkins said all the abovementioned events and uses were taken into consideration when Re-pete was designed.

“Although the design draws direct inspiration from the billowing and cellular forms of all[zone]’s spectacular MPavilion 2022 design, in many ways the chair is the culmination of a continual line of research that Max Maxwell and I are undertaking, that sits at the nexus of robotic fabrication, hyper-mobile manufacturing, and material stewardship,” he said.

“When designing for a temporary event, the main consideration is that it is not enough to just design a product that is fit for purpose, it also needs to address the inescapable fact that its lifespan is indeterminate.

“Our work aims to address the issues of waste, recycling, and material stewardship through a cradle-to-cradle design approach.”

In addition to their own design work, Mr Tomkins, Mr Maxwell, and Mr Ennis-Butler teach in their respective fields.

“Central to FAD’s teaching framework is to equip our graduates with not only relevant skills for today’s workplace, but to instill in them an applied sense of agility and agency in response to technological change,” Mr Tomkins said.

“This project is an extension of that ethos through its engagement with emergent and experimental technologies, like robot additive manufacturing.”