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Queensland designers showcased at 2023 Melbourne Design Fair

Artisan presented a Queensland contingent of designers at an exclusive exhibition space, raising the profile of Queensland design on a national and international platform



A group of top Queensland designers represented the state on a national platform at the 2023 Melbourne Design Fair showcasing their work at Australia’s leading collectible design event.

Curated by the National Gallery of Victoria’s Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture and delivered in collaboration with the Melbourne Art Foundation, Melbourne Design Fair is an annual platform for designers, commercial galleries, design agencies and organisations to come-together under one roof to promote and sell the best collectible design from Australia and the world, over four days, providing a unique cultural and commercial experience.

Queensland-based arts organisation Artisan presented the Queensland contingent of designers, including five First Nations designers, at an exclusive exhibition space located within the design fair. 

Artisan collaborated with design fair presenter, the National Gallery of Victoria, to select the designers for this invitation-only event and present a public talk as part of a series of free public talks at the Design Fair.

The designers’ work covered limited edition design collectibles and bespoke works across the spectrum including furniture, small objects, textiles, jewellery and lighting:

  • CJ Anderson - Gold Coast, furniture . Gold Coast (Bundjalung) based designer CJ Anderson grew up around manufacturing. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Digital Media Majoring in 3D Design his furniture has made waves on the Australian design scene. His work explores familiar materials such as stainless-steel tubular forms and innovative applications for materials such as memory foam, fabric, stone and timber. 
  • Maxx Bubb – Brisbane, Emerging jeweller 
  • Delvene Cockatoo-Collins – Stradbroke Island, designer, artist  
  • Five Mile Radius – Brisbane, furniture, circular design  
  • Tamika Grant-Iramu – Brisbane, designer, artist  
  • Mari Hirata – Gold Coast, artist, jeweller 
  • Jay Jermyn – Gold Coast, lighting - furniture   
  • Bruce Reynolds – Brisbane, designer, artist  
  • Seljak Brand – Brisbane, textiles, circular design 
  • Elizabeth Shaw – Brisbane, jeweller 
  • Melissa Stannard – Sunshine Coast Hinterland, jeweller  
  • Studio Flek: Lisa Kajewski and Chris Miller – Gold Coast, sustainable design, lighting 
  • Grace Rosendale – Hopevale Art Centre, Cape York, textile design
  • Dan Watson – Sunshine Coast Hinterland, knifemaker. Self-taught First Nations knifemaker Dan Watson creates beautiful, hand-crafted artefacts, for a sustainable future. His hand forged knives and homewares are created in his home studio in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Each one unique, their beautiful patina and hand finished handles are sustainably crafted from local or reclaimed timbers.

In addition to artisan’s showcase of Queensland artists, the NGV Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture curated the invitational commission series FOCUS with the support of Creative Victoria, which showcased the work of a further two Queensland artists:

  • Paula Savage, a Mualgalwoman from the Serganilgalclan group from the village of Dabuon Moa Island, and the KauraregNation of Muralagand Kiriri, is renowned for bringing to life the enduring traditional material practices of her cultural heritage.
  • Brisbane-based Nicolette Johnson, a ceramicist employing wheel-throwing, coiling, and sculpting techniques to produce vessels imbued with esoteric and surrealist motifs.

Other Queensland-based artists showcasing at Melbourne Design Fair:

  • Alexander Lotersztain - Brisbane
  • Isaac Chatterton – Moreton Bay
  • Fearon Brothers – Gold Coast
  • Sarah Rayner – Sunshine Coast
  • Nicolette Johnson - Brisbane
  • Anna Varendorff – QCA Graduate, now based in Melbourne
  • Peter Cooley – QCA Graduate, now based in the Blue Mountains 



When and where

Melbourne Design Fair – 18 to 20 May 2023 in Melbourne


Key stats

  • 14 Queensland designers
  • Over 3 days Queensland designers received total sales of $9800
  • Further commissions/opportunities resulting from the MDF are valued at $207,900 with 47% of this value a confirmed opportunity, 5% no longer available and 48% in progress.
  • The highest number of inquiries and one of the most ‘instagramed’ works in the showcasing was ‘Just trying to hold it together’ a glass and steel chair by CJ Anderson and Jay Jermyn from the Gold Coast. 

MDF numbers:

  • 10,522 visitors
  • 3,254 Vernissage attendance ⎯ 3,000 sqm exhibition space
  • 60 exhibitors / 170+ designers
  • Estimated $2.7M onsite sales, with $2.1M projected in the following 6-months
  • Estimated 250 works sold with the highest selling work at $60,000.
  • Combined NGV and MAF social media audience of 820K +
  • Coverage in national news media: Vogue, Wallpaper*, Artshub, The Age, Architecture AU, Australian Arts Review, Bazar, Broadsheet + more


Arts Queensland investment 

Queensland Government investment of $45,410 to support Artisan to lead the Queensland contingent of designers.

Artisan is a Queensland-based organisation dedicated to promoting contemporary craft and design practice. Artisan receives funding of $800,000 through the Organisations Fund 2022-2025.



Build a strong and sustainable sector

  • Generate increased economic benefit through sales at Australia’s top design fair
  • Raise profile of Queensland design sector by showcasing work to larger audiences and new markets including international collecting institutions, individual collectors, the design industry, and the public
  • Develop and leverage new partnerships 
  • Networking opportunities with more than 200 designers and industry delegates 

Share our stories and celebrate our storytellers

  • Showcase the work of Queensland artists featuring a commitment to quality and craftsmanship and features a uniquely Queensland approach that responds to our landscape, natural materials and cultural heritage

Embrace Brisbane 2032

  • Positions Queensland to meet buyer demand for high-quality Queensland-produced collectibles ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games


Learnings and reflections

  • Promotion should start much earlier and potentially include partnering with local businesses for cross-promotion;
  • Pre-plan workshops and panel discussions are needed to engage visitors with a particular agenda to collect work;
  • Storage for larger scale works is costly and could be coordinated with a second stage of post MDF sales and/or exposure through touring/exhibition programming.
  • Designers to be confirmed earlier in order to support the development of new products specific to the fair and to aid with booth design
  • Focus on collectable design
  • Strategy around discussions with galleries and museums in Queensland to consider works for their collections
  • Connect and cross promote with commercial galleries representing Queensland designers



"Majorly impressed with quality of show particularly the curation and standard of the work. I think it’s on a very very important trajectory, the next one is going to be phenomenal. In was an honour to be there. I networked my socks off.” Cassandra Lehman,artisan QLD

"Design fair bought together the best of the best -not just in design but in the community. It offered a very commercial setting for our design industry to present and that is what it is all about." Andy Kelly, OIGALL



Tips for others

 Confirm designers and their designs early


What next?

Artists negotiated a number of further commissions and opportunities. These include:
•    CJ Anderson and Jay Jermyn are working on a New Zealand hotel project
•    CJ Anderson and Jay Jermyn in negotiation to develop a new collection
•    Jay Jermyn has been commissioned to exhibit his works in the Gold Coast Triennial at HOTA
•    Jay Jermyn has been commissioned to curate an exhibition and to create lighting for further design projects
•    Tamika Grant-Iramu - Designer rugs used Tamika’s designs for a major install in a Cairns based shopping centre
•    Grace Rosendale in negotiation to develop a range of rugs and homewares with Hopevale artists


Find out more

Melbourne Design Fair