14.11.15 / AGDA Design Awards / The Pinnacle of Design

AGDA Design Awards / The Pinnacle of Design, Saturday 14 November 2015

Forum Review

From the height of Catalan cool, via the high arts, to hallucinogenic Mexican drugs — the AGDA Awards Forum was buzzing from the off. Ably hosted by Jason Little and Linda Jukic, the four-hour Forum was rich in content and rewarding for all who made the early start.

Hey kicked us off. Hands on, heartfelt, and here all the way from Barcelona, Hey shared insights on their small team’s somewhat obsessive, vibrant simplicity. Brutal, sweet, and charming all at once; it was a lovely behind the scenes look into one of the hottest studios operating anywhere in the world. We were both delighted and lucky to have them.

Alice Babidge took us through the conceptual and creative process behind her incredible costume and set designs for one of her major stage shows. Alice shared the painstaking process of capturing the essence of a character, an emotion, a story. It was captivating stuff.  

The first session concluded with “The Floor’s Yours” — a Q&A Audience/Panel discussion. A bevy of questions and contributions from the floor were expertly fielded by our expert panel, naturally. We heard the considered and considerable industry insights from Andrew van der Westhuyzen, Alex Naghavi, Tom Shanahan, and failed/foiled astronaut Chris Maclean. Topics included the changing role and responsibility of design, whether there was a recognisable “Australianess” to our collective output, and timesheets took something of a battering.

The Affectors’ Matt Jackson and Ben Romalis were a sensational way to welcome everyone back after the break. Powerful and stirring poetry and song lit up the morning. Comfortable and uncomfortable at once, Matt and Ben held the audience as one. Provocative and poignant, we were all left that bit more awakened to the world around us.

And then… James Brown. Wow. James was feeling a little worse for wear from the AGDA drinks the night previous (he blamed Chris Doyle), but that didn’t stop him. On the contrary, it seemed to fit well with a theme of inspiration behind his amazing work and career thus far. James knows how to spin a yarn and he shared some stories from his childhood and explained his recent child-like approach to design. It was a visual and conceptual feast, with big belly laughs thrown in.

For the Forum’s climax we saw something a little different: The Great Debate. The audience, who were to play their part in determining the eventual winner, was treated to two teams of three hammering out a long-held and contentious design related motion. “This House believes… Designers are Wankers”.

The lineup was formidable. Debating for the affirmative: Clinton Duncan, Cat Burgess, and Justin Smith. For the Negative: Tony Ibbotson, Michaela Webb, and Kris Sowersby. Talking for five minutes each, the debaters enthusiastically got to grips with the topic by means of great wisdom and humour. Read: it was hilarious. The gags, slurs, and puns were coming thick and fast. (Apologies.) We were witness to selfless-abuse, rubber gloves, evolution, pie-charts, altruism and Kris Sowersby. It was blow-for-blow breathtaking stuff. When all was said and done, the audience voted with a clap-o-meter. It was close, but amazingly, a roomful of designers decided in favour of the Negative: it turns out, designers are not wankers. Controversial. (We’ve a feeling this isn’t over…) The Debate was moderated, fittingly, by Graham Barton.

It was a great morning. Sincere and huge thanks to all our contributors: beginning with End of Work’s wry Winner/Loser printed Program gifted to all attendees; Garbett’s thinking-outside-the-box signage and displays; all our exceptional and inspiring speakers; and to all those working behind (and some in front of) the scenes. Well played all.


Veronica Fuerte & Ricardo Jorge Perez, Hey
Alice Babidge, Costume/Set designer
Matt Jackson & Ben Romalis, The Affectors
James Brown, Mash

Andrew van der Westhuyzen, Collider
Alex Naghavi, Josephmark
Tom Shanahan, Confetti Studio
Chris Maclean, Re

Clinton Duncan, Designworks
Cat Burgess, Frost* Collective
Justin Smith, End of Work
Tony Ibbotson, The Creative Method
Michaela Webb, Studio Round
Kris Sowersby, Klim Type Foundry

Linda Jukic, Hulsbosch (AGDA NSW Councillor)
Jason Little, For The People (AGDA NSW Chair)
Graham Barton, Folk (AGDA NSW Vice Chair)

The Affectors 942

James Brown 942

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