22 February 2024

It’s a great privilege when a person with enormous expertise in making and design lands in Sydney and agrees to give a public talk. So it was that last night we were honoured to have the UK’s Corinne Julius at Australian Design Centre in conversation with Sydney designer and academic Rina Bernabei.

Rina and Corinne talked about the elevation of craft and making in recent years with the human need for connection, comfort, beauty and story being found in unique, tactile objects that have been made by hand with materials that are a joy to touch. Corinne spoke about her joy in holding a beautiful cup that she drinks from each morning. A cup that gently reminds her of the maker, the maker’s story and their conversations about making.

Craft in the interior was the big topic, how we can all elevate our homes and our lives by incorporating handcrafted pieces into our personal collections. Whether it be functional objects, decorative objects or built into the environment, all have the potential to uplift the everyday to make living joyful and authentic.

When a question from the floor challenged Corinne to define craft, her response was she doesn’t much like the word but prefers to speak about making. For her the act of making traverses the spectrum of creative practice from fine art to architecture and everything in between.

Also discussed was how opportunities for making have declined in education with the rise of technology. Bringing back thinking through making into school and tertiary settings enables a much richer experience with better outcomes on many levels.

Corinne spoke about her Formed With Future Heritage exhibitions. These present unique work by highly skilled, internationally acclaimed and emerging makers for collectors who want to acquire or commission special pieces. As the curator, Corinne challenges makers to think bigger and push their practice into new areas. For example Edgar Ward is a sculptor working with stone, ceramics and digital modelling who designed his first sculptural fireplace, and London-based glass artist Lola Lazaro Hinks created a magnificent privacy screen in glass. Many of the makers focus on sustainability, echoing a long-standing and urgently growing practice of considered use of materials that respect the natural world rather than detract from it.

Thank you Corinne and Rina for your insightful comments and for giving your time so generously, and to those who attended the talk.

Lisa Cahill, ADC CEO and Artistic Director

About Corinne Julius

Corinne is an expert voice on contemporary craft and design. She writes regularly for several magazines including the specialist publications Crafts, Selvedge and Ceramic review, and is a reviewer for Country Life and BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Corinne is a guest lecturer and student advisor at several arts universities, including the Royal College of Art and the University of the Arts, as well as the Sotheby’s Institute Fine and Decorative Art and Design Masters. She was awarded an honorary fellowship for services to Design and Craft by the Royal College of Art.

Corinne has been a judge of many applied arts and design awards in the UK and abroad. Until recently, she was Chair of the Wood Awards Furniture and Product Panel, Chair of the Critics’ Circle Visual Arts & Architecture section, and a member of the Glenmorangie Collection Committee.

In 2014 Corinne instigated and curated the contemporary craft show Future Heritage (for the interior design exhibition Decorex International), which has developed into the Formed with Future Heritage show.

About Rina Bernabei

Rina Bernabei is a highly experienced design educator, researcher and practitioner, with a record of outstanding teaching, leadership, design research and award-winning product design.

A University of NSW academic since 1994, Rina is currently Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Art and Design. Rina’s design research and expertise focus on creating emotional connections and attachment between users and products. Her creative work explores the sensory and decorative qualities of materials, as well as the crossover between craft and mass production.

Her designs have won leading prizes such as Indesign Design Luminary Award, Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Award and Australian Design Mark Award. Rina has exhibited at prestigious international festivals such as the Milan Salone di Mobile and the Milan Triennale, and in Australian national galleries including Powerhouse Museum, Object Galleries and Sydney Opera House.