materialist manifestoes



ross mcleod + nick visser


The materialism studio interrogated human beings relationship with the material world and encouraged students to develop a phenomenological approach to the fashioning of spatial experience. The studio fostered an appreciation of the metaphorical and affective qualities of materials and asked students to locate this sensibility in relation to the ‘materialistic’ nature of contemporary society.

Initially the studio embarked on this task through three distinct avenues of thought, these included philosophy, technology and expression. Within the ‘philosophy’ stream students were introduced to concepts of materialism through a review of the issues surrounding phenomenology, industrialization, consumerism and environmentalism. In the ‘technology’ stream students engaged in a series of making experiments that employed both ‘conventional’ and ‘unconventional’ materials and joining techniques. In the ‘expression’ stream the students explored the potential of material as a communicator of narrative, mood, values and ethics; embarking on the design of a series of projects that evoked strong reactions from the viewer/user. At mid semester these three streams (philosophy, technology and expression), were synthesised into a ‘materialist manifesto’ that informed the production of a series of sculptural objects that embraced and expressed sustainable values.

In the final project of the semester the students were asked to develop a concept for a ‘Temple of Consumption’, a retail space that challenged the values and practices of our contemporary consumer society. The design had to employ the techniques of retail branding (logo, advertising, marketing, brandscaping) and subvert them so as to embody a positive, sustainable and thought provoking message. In doing this the students were asked to consider the relationship between installation art and modern conceptual retail design. In this light, retail space has the potential to be both evocative and provocative; it can be a gallery, stage, performance space, screen and broadcaster. It can be cultural commentary and visceral experience. As well as being a powerful statement about consumerism the design had to function as a shop, facilitating the process of exchanging one valuable thing for something of equal value.

we build rockets - kirby humphries



taktilite - caroline dale



aesop concept store - tabitha tattenbach



oolong teahouse - stella skoumbridis



recherche - rebecca leung



Students: Hilary McAllister, Sarah Turner, Tiange Wang, Katie Butcher, Mabel Ling, Caroline Dale, Carmen Paech, SuetWah Tiong, Naomi Abiera, Kirby Humphries, Xuefei Li, Rima Mehrabani, Stella Skoumbridis, Rebecca Leung, Aishah Puteri, Bill Li, Tess Shelley, Noelle Wong, Tabitha Tattenbach