The Australian Embassy, in collaboration with Qantas Airways, celebrated the opening of Beijing Design Week at Opposite House on 29 September.  On the night, Ambassador Jan Elizabeth Adams introduced Australia’s contribution to the design festival, which included the Invisible Light Garden and FutureAging Lab installations as well as a feature of the ‘E-Motion’ design project by Lilian Hambling, the 2017 winner of the Young Australian Design Award.

Mosster Studio’s Invisible Light Garden offered young minds an interactive and immersive space to play and engage with lights, shapes and patterns. The space opened up as an interactive landscape, allowing children to discover the relationship between their infrared-sensed interactions with the exhibit and the projection of various digitalized Australian flora-inspired patterns. The imaginative contributions of Australian children, which inspired the designs and background sounds of the project, were highly enjoyed by Chinese children throughout the week.

The FutureAging Lab, a collaboration between the University of Technology in Sydney and Tsinghua University in Beijing, explored the future of a more inclusive and empathetic approach to design. Research and visual mapping conducted by the University of Technology brought to light the everyday adversities faced by aged people of varying physical ability, drawing attention to the effect of demographic change on healthcare, transport, nutrition and community living. The installation’s interactive exercises both engaged participants and exposed the everyday struggles of different groups in society, such as using eating utensils with Parkinson’s disease and navigating one’s home environment with vision impairment. The Tsinghua University team introduced the role of design in encompassing solutions to these difficulties, exhibiting more inclusive alternatives to everyday designs.

The Australian Studies Centre team attended the opening of Beijing Design Week, while Chloe Dempsey and interns Natalie Omond and Reade Allison further volunteered at the exhibitions during the course of the week.