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FIX AND
MAKE

Fix and Make

FILED UNDER Fix and Make POSTED BY Dan ()

Fix and Make is a series of workshops and talks at Hotel Hotel. Through the practical, the experimental and the philosophical, the program brings different people together to actively question our consumption of and relationship with objects. Collectively, with small acts of fixing and making we can get a better understanding of how things work.

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Amy's Fred Ward chair.

Object Therapy is a research and remaking project that we carried out with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Australian National University (ANU) and 26 designers and makers from Australia and abroad. It aims to build a new body of knowledge around repair, the design process, and objects and their meaning.

Words by Guy Keulemans, Andy Marks and Niklavs Rubenis.

The rationale for Object Therapy begins with simple observations: professional repair services are in decline, consumerism is rampant, and we are generating more and more waste. Do-It-Yourself repair is growing in popularity, evidenced by the growth of many excellent online communities and information portals, but this doesn’t cater to everyone.

Appropriately, there is a therapeutic quality in many such contributions. It is seen in Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans’ adaptive reuse of a cheap and broken, but incredibly precious knitting needle; in Corr Blimey’s sensitive transformation of a mother’s vintage kimono into a cushion for the daughter; in Elbowrkshp’s thoughtful deconstruction of a father’s Gladstone bag into three separate bags for each of his daughters; and in Scott Mitchell’s conversion of a beloved, obsolete television into a transmitter of televisual memories. Rohan’s ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ action figure – similar to one he owned as a kid – has been dressed in 6 detailed and intricate garments and accessories by paper engineer Benja Harney. Although only purchased from an op-shop for one dollar, this repair brings its cost into the thousands. This is not exceptional among our repairers, and we would like to acknowledge and deeply thank them for placing many hours of time and significant amounts of energy and resources into their repairs. This extraordinary investment is all the more remarkable considering the repairers make no claim to ownership for their work: the works will be returned to their original owners at the end of the exhibition. This incredible generosity fits well with the spirit of repair as a process that restores life to objects.

We are consistently burdened by the untimely obsolescence of our possessions, and troubled by both our incapacity to discard them (to where?) and our inability to repair them (by whom?). Object Therapy is an attempt to answer these parenthetical questions and to highlight consumer perceptions of waste, repair and obsolescence. The project is an attempt to address some of the trouble caused by broken objects by connecting their owners with professional artists and designers. The skilled contributors we have assembled, the ‘repairers’, don’t necessarily have great familiarity with repair either. Some do. But they are all in command of considerable visual, material and technical expertise. Object Therapy intends to uncover, collate and assess the many and varied possibilities for creativity within the practice of repair. It was imagined that the generative aspects of damage, in which the conditions of wear, use and breakage can be unique, would lead to a broad range of creative responses and perhaps innovative repair typologies or techniques. As such, the brief was open. Repairers were provided with a video of an interview with their object’s owner and asked to respond in any manner they chose. We can identify these responses as having three main categories: transformative repair – a restoration of function with a change in form or appearance, adaptive reuse – a reconfiguration of material into a new purpose or function, and critical objects – that challenge the assumptions and conventions underlying the design, use or understanding of products. These categories are not a precise fit for all contribution and some outcomes merge or transcend them.

Transformation: the repairers and their repairs

Before we overview the work presented in this exhibition, firstly we should acknowledge that repair and reuse have historical roots within cultures across the world. The traditional Japanese craft of kintsugi – the repair of ceramics with urushi glue and gold dust – is an important precedent for Object Therapy. Its overarching concept, the aesthetic transformation of an object through a process of repair, neatly predicts the likely outcomes of merging visual arts and repair practice. We are lucky to include the work of master lacquer ware craftsman Yutaka Ohtaki in the exhibition whose repair of Lindy’s Western-style plate is unusual for traditional kintsugi. But as with the kintsugi repair of Korean and Chinese ceramics in the past, during the Edo period (1603–1868), it re- 5 territorialises the plate. Originally made in Europe, it now feels Japanese. Other contributors have worked in this theme.

Naomi Taplin uses modern adhesives to sensitively repair a much-loved, ‘everyday’ bowl decorated with a fish. The golden seams diagram the force that broke it, subduing and ameliorating it. Conversely, Kyoko Hashimoto’s repair of Skye’s glass ring with a sterling silver sleeve recalls the time before the advent of modern adhesives, in which ceramics, in Chinese and Western traditions were repaired with metal staples. Traditional techniques deployed in the service of unconventional mending is evident in Elise Cakebread’s kilt repair, Liam Mugavin’s rocking horse, and Guy Keulemans’ use of photoluminescent pigments to craft a prosthetic leg for a broken glass giraffe.

Embarking on a different journey, Halie Rubenis’ playful decoration of chipped crockery with plastic spheres, fashioned from the expanded polystyrene box in which they were delivered to her, might not be fully functional, but the results are clearly transformational and revitalise everyday objects that are routinely discarded. Halie’s approach embodies that often referenced Australian ‘make do’ attitude of repairing with materials at hand. We see this in Andrea Bandoni’s repair of a clothesbasket with bright blue hose interweaved through the wicker. As a Brazilian, she cites ‘gambiarra’ culture, her country’s own version of the ‘make do’ concept.

Henry Wilson’s transformed bee smoker, a traditional tool used to calm bees prior to extracting honey from their hive, also leverages the ‘make do’ concept, but in the form of a critical object. After disassembling the leather joinery of the bellows, Henry was struck by the difficulty of finding replacement materials in inner city Sydney, an area similar to those in many Australian cities that have seen a decline in local manufacturing. Henry’s choice to replace the bellows with a computer fan – sourced from a computer supply store in the CBD – is a provocative hack that responds to the hurdles placed in the way of Australian makers and repairers, particularly when attempting to source local materials. It is the nature of critical commentary to find and dig out problematic roots. We might have expected Rohan Nicol to restore Kristie’s Kenwood mixer to function, given it’s sentimental history and potential for continued use. But, as Rohan notes, the mixer had lost its function sometime ago, yet hung around in disrepair. Rohan sees it as an abstract marker for the family’s inability to let go of their possessions. His transformation, a burial in cement, creates an ‘archaeological witness’ to the potential for grief in consumerism. In his repair of Chris’s inherited broken statuette clock, Rohan takes a similar path by binding the broken parts in cloth suggestive of ancient artefacts. He comments that the memory surrounding the object outweighs the object itself, enabling a moment in time to let the physical object go. The sentimental values within Rachel’s father’s bagpipes, harken to a Scottish homeland, and are unexpectedly reconfigured by Dylan Martorell. His hybrid instrument uncovers the traces and links between divergent global music cultures.

We thought we might test the boundaries of authorship in transformative repair by giving a broken vase, made by notable glass artists Ben Edols and Kathy Elliot, to another notable glass artist, Richard Whiteley. As former studio mates, though, this potential authorship issue was simply resolved by a phone call. More significantly, Richard’s repair, a clean slice that cuts away and discards broken edges and exposes a sublime interior void, has an unexpected therapeutic dimension. The vase was originally a wedding gift from a dear friend, since died. The cutting away of fracture is a material intervention into the complex emotional relations embedded by such provenance. It is an approach shared by Dale Hardiman’s knife repair. The knife’s broken edge, associated by the owner with divorce and death, was removed and its blade shortened. Its handle was replaced with a new one made from local clay, and the fragility of this material acts as a reminder to take care of our possessions, and perhaps human relationships as well.

Object Therapy has been full of surprises none more so than Peter who submitted himself as an object for transformative repair. Unable to envision what this might mean for research or exhibition, but unable to decline its possibilities, we passed his submission to Amsterdam-based conceptual designers Thought Collider. Their response firstly makes clear it is inappropriate to apply repair to a person as one would to an object, but nonetheless proposes a transformative experience through the form of collaborative research. ‘Peter the Person’, as he came to be known, has embraced their proposal to research colonisation of the moon in the public space of the exhibition. We hope his extra-planetary research might return attention to the grave problems of the earth and it’s human habitation.

Social and environmental problems were predicted to emerge from the Object Therapy process. Susannah Bourke’s critical object captures one of broad significance: the responsibility of companies towards the products they make. For her Mistral fan, this was an historical, life-taking lapse in electrical safety standards, but deeper and more nuanced problems of product design persist in affecting our contemporary world. We hoped to include more industry in our process, but Kenwood (now owned by Delonghi) and Nintendo didn’t respond to our invitations. Numark, a maker of DJ equipment, seemed initially interested, but soon went dark. We can only speculate as to the disinterest of industry, but note that there is an emerging and global community push for better corporate stewardship of consumer products. Such policy would require companies to take responsibility for retrieving, repairing or recycling their products from the post consumer landscape, but it is generally not the companies themselves behind these proposals. In absence of Numark’s participation, a DJ mixer got pulled from the Object Therapy process, but we can at least acknowledge the second hand electronics market (thanks Ebay) for helping us fix that owner’s other object, a retro Nintendo Gamecube. This fix, however, may be short lived, as those coloured RCA cable inputs connecting Gamecube to screen are disappearing from new televisions.

Problems of durability and obsolescence, the lack of lifecycle design and materials that harm the environment, are explored in many Object Therapy works. Trent Jansen’s transformation of an old washing basket trolley into clothes pegs is neatly conceptual, yet also interrogates changing material culture. Traditionally pegs were made from wood, but are now often made from petrochemical polymer plastics. The ‘new’ steel pegs made from the trolley’s frame look and feel like artefacts of a lost material culture. A light coating of rust is forming on their surface. Even if plain steel might be unsuitable for clothes pegs, they raise the question: in the rush to make everything faster, lighter and cheaper, do we lose or gain by switching to plastics from endlessly recyclable, but energy intensive, materials like steel?

Such questions are at the forefront for UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology. They have developed patents for feeding worn car tyres into steel production and they specialise in extracting energy from polymer composites. In their contribution to Object Therapy, they brutally pulverised an unwanted stone giraffe for the purpose of material analysis, and followed this by turning its debris into a reconstructed polymer building product. This clarifies that varied techniques, both passionate and dispassionate, are required to tackle our tremendous contemporary problems of waste and consumerism.

The transformational capacity of material is also a concern for Niklavs Rubenis in his reconfiguration of 1950s furniture designed by Australia’s iconic Fred Ward. A deconstructed cabinet glides through a chair frame, forming a bench seat. Such adaptive reuse is not just transformative expression, but also transient expression, in that it opens up to the potential for further future transformation. This is also seen in Monique van Nieuwland’s reconfigured spinning jenny, now a wall-mounted clothes and hat rack; and Alison Jackson’s renewal of a child’s ruler, broken in play, into a set of playable dominoes. Subhadra’s submission, an expensive educational puzzle missing several parts, was a conundrum. It was impossible for her students to complete the task, but difficult to discard due to its cost. Daniel Emma’s transformation creates an entirely new game via a recontextualising face-lift.

Not all attempted repairs were successful. Richard’s theodolite, an instrument used for surveying, was prohibitively costly to repair. But it’s past use in mapping indigenous archaeological sites suggested an alternative approach. It has been given a political voice by Franchesca Cubillo in a text that calls for Indigenous sovereignty and respect for the wisdom of ancient cultures.

The sums: where to from here?

Object Therapy indicates the value and potential of repair as a practice by creative professionals. It highlights the positive concern that people have for finding solutions to product obsolescence and waste. We hope it may re-orientate attitudes towards production, consumption and disposal. This project draws attention to work yet to be done: Object Therapy is neither a comprehensive mapping of the possibilities of transformative repair nor a finished project. It is simply a starting point. Object Therapy points to the social and political agency required to transform the conventions of production and consumption, but, more importantly, we hope it points to a revitalisation of creative practice, skills and modes of thinking that will enable us to deal with the problems of the material here and now.

View the full catalogue here.

Objects were repaired by Andrea Bandoni, Corr Blimey (Louisa de Smet and Steven Wright), Susannah Bourke, Elise Cakebread, Franchesca Cubillo, Elbowrkshp (Elliat Rich and James B. Young), Daniel Emma, Dale Hardiman, Benja Harney, Kyoko Hashimoto, Alison Jackson, Trent Jansen, Guy Keulemans, Dylan Martorell, Scott Mitchell, Liam Mugavin, Rohan Nicol, Monique van Nieuwland, Yutaka Ohtaki, Halie Rubenis, Niklavs Rubenis, SMaRT@UNSW, Naomi Taplin, Thought Collider (Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret), Henry Wilson, and Richard Whiteley.

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Object Therapy

The Object Therapy exhibition opens on Friday 14 October at the Grand Stair (at Hotel Hotel in NewActon) at 6PM and will be on show until Sunday 30 October.

Object Therapy is a research and remaking project that we carried out as part of our Fix and Make program.

Through this practical study of repair we hope to build a new body of knowledge around repair, the design process, and objects and their meaning.

Often, repaired objects are perceived as being of less value. We are looking to challenge this preconception, celebrating repair as a creative process that can add value.

We hope that it will help us rethink our consumption patterns and re-evaluate the broken objects that surround us. It explores the almost forgotten role of repair in our society and its possibilities.

It’s also an enquiry into humanity. The project examines why and how we load inanimate objects with meaning.

The project has been developed in collaboration with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) the Australian National University (ANU). Through a research-based approach it is an investigation into the culture of ‘transformative’ repair as practiced by local, interstate and international artists and designers.

Back in May (2016) we did a call out to the public asking people to give us their broken or damaged objects for possible repair. From the 70 submissions, we chose 30 objects for repair including furniture items, ceramics, household appliances, textiles, sentimental objects and, unexpectedly, one human.

When they came to drop it off we interviewed each person about their object. They were asked a series of questions including how they came to own the object, how it broke and how they would like to see it repaired…

We found that some of our straightforward questions drew out personal (and sometimes quite moving) stories that highlight the power that objects have to connect us to people, places and the past. We also uncovered some attitudes towards repair and perceptions on waste.

The object owners were then asked to ‘let go’ of their objects. We let them know that the process of repair might mean that their object would come back completely different… both in terms of how it looks and functions.

We then gave each object to a design repairer. We gave them the background research as well (the video interviews) so that they could understand the owner’s relationship with the object. The repairers had six weeks to mend or transform the object.

Then we reunited the owner with their object. We did a second interview to see their response to the repair and to see if and how their attitudes or perceptions might have changed.

We are very grateful for the goodwill that the repairers have shown us by taking part in this project. They spent much time and thought on their repairs. (Thanks guys. We’re glad you’re here.)

We are also in much karmic debt to the researchers – Guy Keulemans, Andy Marks, Niklavs Rubenis and their team for all of their hard work and commitment to this project. We thank you. Believing in things is catching. We hope you infect everyone.

And thank you to the object owners for trusting us with your (almost always) beloved objects.

We have put together an exhibition of the repaired objects. It opens on Friday 14 October at the Grand Stair (at Hotel Hotel in NewActon) at 6PM and will be on show until Sunday 30 October. We hope you can come.

Image by Lee Grant of Kristie’s broken Kenwood mixer given to her by her parents for her 21st. Repaired by Rohan Nicol – reminiscent of an archeological artifact, he has locked the object in cement, fixing in time the often-invisible bonds between family members.

 

 

Repairers

Andrea Bandoni, São Paulo, Brazil

Corr Blimey (Louisa de Smet and Steven Wright), Cardiff Wales, UK

Susannah Bourke, Queanbeyan, Australia

Elise Cakebread, Melbourne, Australia

Franchesca Cubillo, Canberra, Australia

Elbowrkshp (Elliat Rich and James B. Young), Alice Springs, Australia

Daniel Emma, Adelaide, Australia

Dale Hardiman, Melbourne, Australia

Benja Harney, Sydney Australia

Kyoko Hashimoto, Sydney, Australia

Alison Jackson, Queanbeyan, Australia

Trent Jansen, Thirroul, Australia

Guy Keulemans, Sydney Australia

Dylan Martorell, Melbourne, Australia

Scott Mitchell, Melbourne, Australia

Liam Mugavin, Sydney, Australia

Rohan Nicol, Canberra, Australia

Monique van Nieuwland, Canberra, Australia

Yutaka Ohtaki, Murakami, Japan

Halie Rubenis, Queanbeyan, Australia

Niklavs Rubenis, Queanbeyan, Australia

SMaRT@UNSW, Sydney, Australia

Naomi Taplin, Sydney, Australia

Thought Collider (Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret), Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Henry Wilson, Sydney, Australia

Richard Whiteley, Canberra, Australia.

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Oysters 3

Cucumber and lime granita

Makes one litre

Ingredients

  • 500ml lime juice
    500ml cucumber juice
    1 bunch mint
    200g caster sugar
    200ml water

Method

Granita

Pick mint and blanch it in boiling water for 30 seconds. Then refresh it by dunking it in iced water.

Squeeze out the excess water and chop the mint finely.

Place sugar and water in a pot and bring to the boil until the sugar dissolves.

Mix all of your ingredients together and put them in a medium sized tray and place in the freezer.

Freeze for 20 minutes or until ice crystals start to form. Using a fork to scrape the crystals to the side. Continue scraping every 20 minutes until it all becomes ice crystals.

To serve

Place a teaspoon of your granita onto your oyster of choice (for these we use Moonlight Flat Oysters).

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Oyster dressing with guanciale with piquillo peppers, basil and chilli

Makes 500 grams

Ingredients

  • 1 brown onion (diced)
    2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
    3 birds eye chillies (sliced)
    1 can piquillo peppers (strained and finely diced)
    200ml Oloroso sherry
    500g guanciale
    ½ bunch basil (finely sliced)

Method

In a medium pot, on low, sauté your onions, garlic and chilli in a little vegetable oil.

Cook until the onions become translucent.

Add sherry and reduce until the liquid has almost all evaporated.

Add the peppers and simmer for five minutes.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Carefully slice the skin off the guanciale and finely dice (about 5mm thick).

In a small pan gently render the guanciale until the fat becomes translucent.

To serve place a small teaspoon of piquillo pepper on each oyster and top with warm guanciale and shredded basil, serve immediately.

Our head chef Dan says that really any oyster is good with this dressing but he likes Rusty Wire oysters from Moonlight Flat Oysters for this recipe because they have a nice robust flavour (and they are nice and big so you can put more on there).

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How to make toys from trash

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WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT

The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.
― Oscar Wilde

Fix and Make Oyster Appreciation WORKSHOP this Saturday.


FILED UNDER Fix and Make Quotes POSTED BY Steph ()

How to make camp furniture

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Dale Hardiman at home. Photographed by Lee Grant.

Dale, doing good

Dale Hardiman is everywhere (in a very good way). He’s not just an industrial designer but also a curator and educator. He’s always making making making and constantly thinking thinking thinking.

Dale explores many ideas via many modes. He commissions and curates new work through Object Future – a design commissioning platform and exhibition supported by Linden New Art (the third iteration opens this week). He makes one-off objects that explore particular conceptual ideas through his solo practice. He explores mass-production through a commercial studio called Dowel Jones. Oh and he runs a collective with two others called Lab De Stu. Oh and oh, he teaches a studio at RMIT where the focus for students is on ways to manufacture locally.

Yep. He is everywhere. Doing good.

He’s rather obsessed with making things from temporary, ordinary and local materials and his experiments with Plastimake (a biodegrable, remouldable plastic made in the ACT) are a glorious manifestation of this obsession.

It takes around 5 years for a tree branch to biodegrade and the same goes for Plastimake. So its a match made in heaven as they biodegrade at the same rate. Using ad hoc methods that anyone can adopt, Dale has combined the natural with the synthetic to create a collection of practical and experimental furniture items – tables, chairs, benches and ladders. We like to think of them as camp furniture. Items you can make from scratch by hand while setting up your campsite with friends. Eventually the furniture breaks down, leaving no trace.

This weekend, Dec 5, Dale is hanging out at Hotel Hotel teaching people how to make their own camp furniture from foraged branches and Plastimake as a part of Fix and Make. You don’t need to be a designer to sign up. The only equipment and tools needed are a kettle, some hot water and your hands.

Dale’s also right into process over outcome. He’s more interested in the way things were made, why they were made and the idea behind that thing – rather than the monetary value of something. Saturday’s workshop won’t just be about the potential to make excellent furniture from tree branches and plastic but the potential to do more with less – with the simple materials that surround us.

There are still a few places left for Saturday’s workshop. Book your tix here.

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Nectar

A curious mind

A walk about with Nectar Efkarpidis, Hotel Hotel’s cofounder and co-curator, will inevitably find you wandering down alleyways, through bookshops, flea markets, second hand shops and artists’ studios… Nectar is a lifelong collector; from seashells, amateur ceramics, shaped objects (collected for nothing more than their colour); to more rarefied items.

Sniffing out the “good stuff” to him is an irrepressible reflex.

It’s good fun trotting about the world looking at the wonderful things that people make and amass until you find yourself in tow in Mumbai with mad Delhi belly trying not to spew all over the beautiful-ugly green glass chandelier he’s found in an obscure flea market stall (true story). Or when you’re dragged to yet another bookshop in Tokyo to haul a load of books by bike to the post office… Or when you’re in Braidwood trying to fit a giant tin tub into a two door hatch back… Yes, yes, I hear you, thing could definitely be worse.

As someone who has been involved since the inception of Hotel Hotel though, talking with Nectar about concepts, names, configurations, artists, processes of making…

I can tell you that, to be totally honest, it’s bloody tiring…

But it’s also totally inspiring.

Nectar has a curious mind. Curious in that he makes desultory connections between things and people (which often amount to nothing). And curious in that he takes an interest in pretty much every thing and everything and in the possibility of those things.

These connections span over a wide range of concepts, objects, places and people and their unexpected relationships (when they do actually amount to something) make for strange and fantastical worlds.

I’ll take you to one now. It’s one in the making so we’ll see what comes of it in the future…

Nectar found a book called the ‘Toaster Project’ by Thomas Thwaites. It’s the story of how Thomas makes a toaster from scratch from his home in the UK – mining the raw materials, making the plastic, inventing a furnace from a microwave… He spends about a year making what is essentially the equivalent of a $6 toaster. It brings up questions about mass production and whether it’s okay to spend just $6 on a toaster whose parts are so resource intensive… And that will inevitably end up in landfill after just a few years.

After his book, Thomas spent a year investigating what it might be like to be a goat. He commissioned some prosthetic goat legs, consulted a behavioral expert, and lived with some goats (as a goat) on a goat farm in the Swiss Alps.

So naturally (?) Nectar made the connection between these thoughts of mass production and living with goats and is now talking to Thomas about forms of experimental living. Madness. But excellent madness.

In his soft and thoughtful voice Nectar will be giving an informal talk as part of our Fix and Make program alongside his lovely curatorial co-conspirators Ken Neale and Don Cameron.

The conversation will give unique insight into the curatorial approaches of three very unconventional collectors and curators — presenting new ways for finding value and meaning in objects. What makes stuff the “good stuff”? Are the stories about the stuff and the people that made it more important than the stuff itself?

The Fix and Make ’19 Objects – New Ways to Value’ is on Wednesday 25 November at 6PM in the Nishi Gallery at NewActon.

Book your tix.

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Trent Jansen shot by Lee Grant

The Ownership of Things

For a hotel putting on a series of workshops and talks about fixing and making stuff (that’s us) it’s important to ask the question: What’s the point of stuff in the first place?

“If you look back through human history we’ve always had things. Some are symbols of community; some are used for trade. Many are cultural,” says Trent Jansen, the furniture and object designer who will join a panel of four at NewActon on Wednesday November 18 to really get to the guts of what it means to own all the things we humans do.

Being one of the world’s makers of stuff, Trent thinks about this all the time. “It becomes quite clear early on when you’re designing that you don’t really need anything new if the point is purely function,” he says. And if function was the point, we should have stopped at modernism.

We perpetually make and collect because things carry stories; like that piece of linen that reminds you of a parent, or the holiday you think back on every time you wipe the dust off that useless but beautiful paperweight.

Stuff also helps tell the story of us to others. “Things help identify us as someone. Maybe it’s magazines on display, art on walls, or cars in the garage. These things say to others what our priorities are. They show our ethics,” says Trent.

But let’s stop Trent right there. At ‘The Ownership of Things’ panel discussion he’ll reveal more of his ethics and philosophies along with entrepreneur and co-founder of GoGet Bruce Jeffreys; historian, artist and writer Anne Brennan; neuroscientist Dr Pascal Molenberghs, and the ABC’s Genevieve Jacobs (as moderator). Buy tickets here. Oh, and a drink is included in the ticket price. This will be very interesting.

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What's On this Summer

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