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The National Gallery of Victoria’s 2015 “Rigg Design Prize” exhibition wrapped up last month with a keynote lecture given by this year’s winner Adam Goodrum. The Rigg Design Prize is the highest accolade for contemporary Australian object and furniture design, and is presented to a designer showcasing an outstanding display of creativity and innovation. This year’s finalists included Goodrum, Brodie Neill, Daniel Emma, Kate Rohde, Khai Liew, Korban Flaubert, and Koskela in collaboration with the weavers of Elcho Islands Arts. Each artist brought a unique perspective to the exhibition, resulting in a well-rounded and varied show. The functional designs ranged in concept and material from Goodrum’s colorful and translucent synthetic polymer resin houses and Korban Flaubert’s iron and steel industrial structures, to Rohde’s psychedelic Rococo inspired Rave cave dining suite.
Goodrum was chosen by two of the contemporary design world’s leading figures: Gijs Bakker, Dutch jewelry and industrial designer and co-founder of Droog, and Wava Carpenter, Editor in Chief of Pamono. Goodrum’s winning design Unfolding is the culmination of his artistic and functional design principles developed over the span of his career. The foldable house structures were inspired by his love for vibrancy and color, as well as a past project where he created foldable emergency shelters from cardboard and inert waterproof paint.
In order to better understand the principles behind his design, Goodrum took us all the way back to his childhood where he began designing functional items for everyday use. Growing up in Perth, Goodrum and his friends spent much of their free time surfing—an activity that would inspire his first designs. Scavenging his home for common items, Goodrum first designed a surfboard leg strap from a coke bottle cap, a clothesline, and panty-hose, and later designed a surfboard trolley to easily transport his board to and from the beach.
In high school, Goodrum went on to develop an interest in fine arts, where he discovered his passion for drawing. His natural inclination for design coupled with his passion for the arts led him to pursue an industrial design program at the University of Technology in Sydney. There, he discovered his love for honest furniture design. His school projects, as well as many of his later designs, incorporate a dynamic, moveable element. Early on, Goodrum developed an interest in the idea of an object moving from 2D to 3D, and one of his first big commissions by Italian design brand Cappellini included a range of foldable chairs. Goodrum has gone on to collaborate with multiple other international as well as domestic furniture and object design companies such as Broach Commissions, Tait, Cult, and even created a limited-edition riddling stool for Veuve Clicquot.
Regarding Unfolding, Goodrum wanted to create something conceptual, but still reflective of his practice. He drew inspiration from his earlier design days of 2D foldable objects, and used the form of the house to symbolize his role as a furniture designer for pieces made for the home. In terms of his radiant use of color, Goodrum said, “On any project I work on, I want the product to justify its existence. I endeavor to give it a personality or spirit, so my idea for this project was to cast light on it to produce the colorful effect.” Ultimately, the houses’ potential to expand into a fully formed structure metaphorically captures Goodrum’s own growth as a designer.