Eucalyptusdom is a beautifully well-rounded project incorporating light, space and exquisite pieces of joinery that house the items on display. There is a lot of content in the exhibition, yet the designers managed to bring everything together as a singular, cohesive expression. Tying all these disparate objects together using scent, sound and light is no mean feat, and ensuring the objects themselves (and not the space) are the heros of the installation is an outstanding achievement. The judges greatly appreciated the multi-sensory aspect of Eucalyptusdom and also commended its modularity as an exemplar sustainability feature.
Eucalyptusdom reckons with the Powerhouse Museum’s long-standing relationship with the gum tree, presenting more than 400 objects from the museum’s collection alongside new commissions and spanning the fields of design, architecture, film, applied arts and performance. The collaborative process drew on the vitality and interconnectedness of the forest, creating a richly layered, multisensory experience.
The brief challenged the design team members to consider their own material practices as designers – and how the space could materially and emotionally connect audiences with the eucalypts.
Audience expectation is subverted in the entry, a vast, darkened space where an absent forest is reanimated through lighting design by Nick Schlieper, sound design by Jane Sheldon and the careful placement of scent-based works by Anna May Kirk and Jonathan Jones. The exhibition’s custom-built timber joinery “terrain” creates a common “ground” for the display of historical objects and contemporary commissions, framing tensions and affinities between old and new. The terrain’s counterpart is found in the immense volume of ungrounded space held within the Touring Hall’s barrel vault roof, where nine charcoal sketches of eucalypts by Rick Leplastrier have been enlarged and printed inversely on semi-translucent fabric so that negative space dissolves into blackness.
Built on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation
Design practice — SJB in collaboration with Rick Leplastrier and Vania Contreras
Project team — Adam Haddow, Richard Leplastrier AO, Jack Gilmer, Vania Contreras, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Sarah Rees, Emily McDaniel, Nina Earl, Anna Gardner, Nick Schlieper, Jane Sheldon, Queen and Crawford, Craig Burton, Ongarato
The Award for Installation Design supported by Design Show Australia. The Australian Interior Design Awards are presented by the Design Institute of Australia and Artichoke magazine. For more images of this project, see the Australian Interior Design Awards gallery.