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Design Awards - small operators full of surprises


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This year’s best South Australian designs were both high-end and low, from businesses small and big. They speak to the quality and depth of the local design field.

Many of the projects that received accolades in the Design Institute of Australia SA Awards 2013, announced last Saturday, were from smaller operators.

Black Squid Design’s  Delectaballs branding.

Black Squid Design’s Delectaballs branding.

Small businesses and collaborative ventures are proving to be industry leaders in the state’s design scene. For example, Black Squid Design’s branding of the Delectaballs meatball food truck has a strong image – the cartoon-like pictures and imagery on the vehicle, use of primary colours and general playfulness of this roving delight fills you with joy and celebrates the spirit of the product.
Design doesn’t have to be high-end to be inspiring; a simple hook on the humble peg and high-quality materials made the Heggs Peg by Fingo a reliable space-saving device. For the fashion-conscious, it also reduces those pesky peg marks that can be left from wet clothes sagging on the line.

One of the door handles at the Collins Bar. Photo: Peter Clarke

One of the door handles at the Collins Bar. Photo: Peter Clarke

But if you do want the five-star stuff, Adelaide has the talent to bring it. Enter the Collins Bar by Woods Bagot, accessorised by Aura Objects. The striking brass door handles were the result of a collaboration between local designers, and the exquisite centrepiece table is effortless class, all thanks to meticulous craftsmanship and conscious use of renewable materials. These elements complement the space well and add an extra layer of flair to the site’s drama.

People vote with their feet. Stalking Delectaballs on Facebook to see where it will pop up next, and seeing the Collins Bar packed on a Saturday night with crisp shirts and high heels are the most obvious forms of public approval that something was done right.

Just looking at these examples tells me South Australia is a vibrant and thriving market in which to operate, and there are people who care about their sense of place.

Smaller operations have latitude to think outside the square and get things happening quickly. The outstanding ventures are born from strong passion and drive to not just meet a need, but to surprise and delight. Who would have thought of making a 360-degree swing?

If the small operators know there is strength in numbers, then I am excited about how locals will help shape our future.

Brendon Harslett is the president of the Design Institute of Australia SA Branch

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