Young designers in the spotlight

‘Just Peachy ‘ by Anise Perry of Williamstown High School

Benjamin Millar

Victoria’s best and brightest design students from the graduating 2020 VCE cohort are being showcased in the annual ‘Top Designs’ exhibition at Melbourne Museum. Benjamin Millar speaks with the creative spirits from Melbourne’s west and north taking part.

From robot dogs and underwater craft to creative clothing and eye-catching animations, students have overcome the challenges of a global pandemic to reveal their flair for design.

A panel of expert educators has whittled close to 1000 applications down to just 95 works that will feature in the Top Designs exhibition at Melbourne Museum from April 17 until July 11.

Melbourne Museum general manager Gordon White said students faced an array of challenges in 2020, working amid a global pandemic that affected accessibility to teachers, school workshops and materials.

“During the unforeseeable disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the young designers featured have demonstrated tremendous resilience and adaptability, overcoming challenges to create work of exceptional quality,” he said.

“The works will not only inspire current VCE and VCE VET students, but all visitors to Melbourne Museum.”

Students featured in the exhibition include Anise Perry of Williamstown High School, Jenna Franks of Bacchus Marsh Grammar, Moses Huf-Tirfe of Footscray High School, Emily Bojczuk of Salesian College Sunbury, Alyssa Payad of Marian College in Sunshine West, Elaf Elsheikh of Southern Cross Grammar in Caroline Springs and Matthew Lewington of Hazel Glen College in Doreen.

In Anise Perry’s magical realism animation ‘Just Peachy’, Peachy’s boring life is brightened as he discovers a peach tree placed mysteriously on his doorstep.

At his office job he savours the peach, devouring its delicious flesh, his only respite from the drudgery of work. However, what initially brought him joy soon reveals itself to be a thing of nightmares.

“In making this project I intended to create an animated short film in a magical realist style to explore artistic expression,” she said.

“I was heavily inspired by the Japanese animators Atsushi Wada and Q-rais and sought to comment on the dystopian lifestyle of corporate workers.”

The Maori–inspired clothing of Jenna Franks use materials including linen, greenstone and plywood.

She said she developed her design brief to allow New Zealand citizens living abroad to be connected to their nationality.

“As a Kiwi I am incredibly proud of my culture and often wished to have a way to express this in my everyday attire,” she said.

“The design includes modern interpretations of traditional elements of Maori culture to ensure it was representative, without cultural appropriation, while appealing to a wide contemporary audience.”

Moses Huf-Tirfe designed an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) able to use GPS technology to collect data on aquatic environmental conditions.

“The vehicle is also able to dive and surface by filling and purging the contents of the external ballast tanks,” he said.

“The solar panel also allows charging of the battery when the AUV has surfaced.”

Emily Bojczuk’s animated game trailer ‘Twizz! Guardian of the Sweets’ aims to deliver a brief understanding of the concepts of the game.

“The fictional game features a young dragon on a mission to save his lolly home and fulfil his destiny as a hero to a gummy dragon-kind,” she said.

“I used processes and techniques such as storyboarding and classic tweening, and created an original character named Twizz.”

Alyssa Payad designed a brand identity and promotional material for ‘Eco-Husk’, highlighting its sustainable and natural essence.

“The designs were dominated by organic shapes and the use of earthy colours, to promote sustainability and ecofriendly alternatives,” she said.

“The client also aims to spread awareness of the concerning rise of waste produced by the coffee industry.”

Elaf Elsheikh’s animation ‘Recycled’ tells the story of a young boy struggling to perfect his passion for art and learning to acknowledge the changing environment.

With a focus on deforestation, the tale delves into the harm it has on nature’s beauty.

“In making this film I hoped to draw attention to the issue of deforestation by showing the perspective of a younger boy who realises its devastating effect on the world,” she said.

“I wanted to create a film that would empower audiences to make a change.”

Matthew Lewington designed a robotic dog to prove that cheap and functional robotic dogs are possible to build using current technology.

“I intended for my system to, at a minimum, stand up and, at best, perform some basic walking,” he said.

“The robotic dog’s body was designed in CAD, then 3D-printed and laser cut.”

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority chair Chris Wardlaw said that after a year like no other, the exhibition is a wonderful way to mark the resilience, creativity and innovation of VCE and VCE VET students.

“Drawing visitors back to the iconic Melbourne Museum, Top Designs puts the spotlight on talented young people from across Victoria and what they are able to achieve within our world-class curriculum,” he said.

“More than ever, this exhibition demonstrates that with determination and creative thinking, a germ of an idea can become an exceptional way to solve a problem.”

Top Designs 2021 will be at Melbourne Museum from 10am to 5pm daily, April 17 until July 11.

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