Under the neon lights of "A Life Individual”, white lab coats, an inflatable dinosaur, and furniture by the world’s best brands, transformed the Space installation with humour and style wrapped up in a series of graphic b&w screens, a technique made famous by design radicals Archizoom that set the scene for the perfect Instagram vignette. 

Exhibitions can be dry and I feel they always need a bit of theatre to stand out. I guess you could say that the scientific lab coats philosophically link to the detail focused Italian makers we work with, while the b&w grid is a graphic tool to highlight design detail
— Leonie Evans, National Visual Merchandise Manager, Space

At design exhibitions all over the world it is the often missed but always fascinating to catch behind-the-scenes build-up that reveals ideas and innovation behind each brand. During Denfair, the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre was alive with the sound of construction, a visceral dance of creative energy and materials from moss and shibori, to screening devices including floating umbrellas and printed textile walls. Start-up designers with tools and drive made their own stands, before spending the next three days switching gears to meet and greet and develop as many contacts as possible. By bringing together both emerging and established design groups Denfair paints a detailed snapshot of design locally. 

At Space the stand took on a magical quality that was less power tools and more circus trick. Instead of traditional timber, nails and glue, walls were made from a light banner material that was laid out like origami and then slowly raised up like a marionette doll to frame the furniture collection inside. Key to this creative approach was a well edited collection featuring Space contract and retail brands. 

Standouts from the Italians at Space included B&B Italia’s Husk chair and Cassina's Gender armchair, both designed by Patricia Urquiola, and the classic Lady armchair designed by Marco Zanuso; the boundary-pushing Dutch brand Moooi and their Bart Swivel armchair and over-scaled Farooo Floor Lamp by Marcel Wanders, along with the suitably graphic Chess Table by Swedish design trio Front. While newcomers included Austrian brand GTV and Front’s texturally beautiful Hideout Chair, a reinvention of the classic wicker; and SP01, the Australian-Italian collaboration that launched last year and has already produced a deep collection of indoor and outdoor ranges, including the wire-based Jeanette outdoor chair.   

Supporting the work of established and emerging designers and brands, Denfair has successfully created a happy medium that is all about building community within the Australian design industry and developing networks beyond. It is an exciting time to watch as Australian brands such as SP01 and Local Design develop a presence at design fairs around the world, from Milan Design Week to NYC x Design, receiving growing enthusiasm from their international audience in affirmation of Australia’s place on the world stage.