Stephen Todd, creative director of Sydney Design Week 2020, spent last summer writing project briefs surrounded by the stifling heat and acrid smoke of bushfires. During that time, the bushfires caused Todd to be evacuated twice from his home in the Blue Mountains. A few months later, just as the nine designers involved in the exhibition Hybrid: Objects for Future Homes had been commissioned, Covid-19 bloomed and brought Sydney Design Week to a standstill.
Despite the chaotic times it was borne from, Hybrid, which is on at the Powerhouse Museum: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), was one of the only Sydney Design Week events able to move forward. Collaborating with academics, architects and artists, the commissioned designers worked from their homes to develop new insights into how domestic objects might address increasing concerns about climate change, wellbeing and sustainable living.
Todd, along with MAAS senior curator Keinton Butler, position the designs in 2030. They wanted to avoid overly futuristic objects, instead proposing a future still visible on the horizon. “We didn’t want Hybrid to fall into abstraction or science fiction,” Todd reveals. “Creating objects for the home has ended up being really beneficial because of Covid-19 and I think that has made the show additionally impactful, going beyond what we had originally imagined. Each collaboration is a total bespoke operation conducted indoors.”
Golnar Roshan is one half of Amsterdam-based design duo, Rive Roshan. Their contribution to Hybrid is Time to Reflect, a curvilinear light source inspired by the reflections of water. “We live in an Amsterdam canal boat house and while we were working at home, we started to see reflections of light hitting the canal and projecting onto our ceilings and walls,” Roshan says. “We started to think, wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could create an object that impacts an interior space in a similar way, that projects the rhythm of nature into the home?”
Made in collaboration with Emmaline Cox, design director of Sydney architectural finishing company Axolotl, Time to Reflect is made from curved glass brushed with mica powder, appearing as a shallow parabolic bowl, much like a contact lens flipped over. Above the curved form, a pendulum light softly moves, creating the rippling refractions of light and colour that recall the water of Roshan’s canal, evocatively bringing the rhythms of nature into the interior space.