'Emphasis is placed on the qualities of being clever, original and inventive.To design, develop and make an object of use from limited resources.’

Following the initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, we found ourselves further apart and more distanced from each other than ever before. Projects on hold, others postponed indefinitely, many people out of work as a result of business closures and job cuts. The fortunate are working remotely, behind screens, connected digitally and virtually. We are witnessing elevated rates of stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression. Our mental health was suffering, our future was uncertain.

The aim of alt.material's fourth event – titled ‘ingenuity’ was to address how design might bring us closer together despite our current physical separation. As designers, how can we address the need for essential connection and urges practical responses that solve real problems?

Shaker Laptop Stand / Adam Markowitz

Drawn from a traditional shaker drying rack design, this stand has been made primarily by hand using basic woodworking tools and using traditional joinery techniques. Beyond being a solution to an immediate need generated by the current situation, it speaks to a time when self reliance, competence with tools, ability to both create and repair were considered part of a basic adult skill set. It suggests that perhaps the ingenuity and resilience that is required to respond to both the current pandemic, and issues of climate beyond, may be found in a personal responsibility and accountability to the physical world.

Tinkered Smoker  / Andrew Carvolth

Tinkered smoker gives life to the mundane and purpose to the thrown out. Drawing inspiration from both my own personal experience of curing biltong and a heightened appreciation of the materials in our domestic landscape during COVID isolation.  This food preserving device was fabricated from cans, tins and hardware at hand, using basic hand tools. It serves as both a pastime and food sharing experience with those close.

The Two Cups / Andrew Simpson

Turned from scrap offcuts found in the bin at a timber yard. Cups are difficult to turn as the material is removed from the inside the walls get thin and the cutting tool gets farther and farther away from the tool rest. The two cups come from the same piece of waste and the unity of the grain makes them a lovely set. Through some ingenuity, some rubbish becomes a set of cups, finished with beeswax.

Panorama / Ashley Corbett-Smith

When the pandemic struck, my entire family was overseas, separated from one another. Like so many other families, the uncertainty still lingers of when we will all be together again.  Designed within a framework to be easily recreated for others in similar situations, Panorama is a representation of far away places and the people we are unable to visit. Named for both the description of an uninterrupted view and the place my youngest brother lives in the Canadian Rockies, this wall sculpture made from a strip of folded brass, is an interpretation of the mountains behind his house.

LIT Night Torch / Ben Edwards

The genesis of the LIT night torch was during a power outage a couple of weeks ago. Sitting in the dark without electricity forced to me to pause. I started to listen more acutely to he sounds around me & to myself. I could hear myself breathe. In the darkness I could see the moon cast its glow & the silhouette of the fruit tree outside. My isolation was immediately put into context. / The Lit Night torch is made from wood dust collected from floor sanding the front room, left-over cement from a DIY project, a steel re-bar & two empty wine bottles. I mixed everything together with a little water and poured into the wine bottles joined by the re-bar & left them to set.

Dough Lamp / Cordon Salon

Not having access to my usual arsenal of tools for for prototyping and production. This design was completely determined by the materials and tools that I had access to in my house. Reverting to lessons learnt from hours of childhood craft projects I decided to work with salt dough. I tweaked a recipe until I had the material and process that would allow me to form the components for the base, shade and lamp holder and bake them in my oven. The dough itself is made with just 4 ingredients flour, salt, water and activated charcoal. Recipe was refined until the dough had enough elasticity to roll into a sheet and wrap or drape over form. But would also bake without it cracking. The entire design was determined by the two bowls I had on hand. These were covered with aluminium foil and used as moulds to lay the dough over to for the shade and the lamp holder. For the base I formed a shape out of aluminium foil by compressing the foil and rolling it into a cylinder. The forms were covered in the dough and baked a low temperature for a total of 5hrs. After completely cooling I sealed the pieces with a thin layer of wax.

Friends / Dale Hardiman

Friends are a collection of pins designed and made by @acvstudio from conversations and materials shared with @dale.hardiman from other Melbourne creative friends.

DAYlight / Dean Norton

In an attempt to bring the outside into our homes during isolation, this piece aims to lift our well being and boost our creative enegry. DAYlight is a sculptural, frosted glass lamp with a floating (6500k) full spectrum globe that mimics the same natural light of the sun.

Transport Chair / Elliot Bastianon

Transport Chair uses common packaging and transport materials to create a piece of furniture. The mechanics of the design are very straightforward and suggest different ways of looking at things which are easily accessible.

HEXMUSH.crv  / Jake Rollins

I’m often playing with different geometries and documenting them for future use. For Ingenuity, I decided I wanted to animate the formation of one of these - for something I’m working on right now. As much as I’d rather being attending with you all and with physical work, it seems fitting to show something less tangible.

Pallet Chair / James Walsh

The Pallet Chair pays homage to Gerrit Rietveld's Crate Chair which was developed in 1934. Reitveld's concept introduced the idea of DIY furniture during the Second World War at a time where furniture was a luxury few could afford. Today the Pallet Chair looks to utilise a readily available resource that can commonly be found abandoned in alleyways, and give people stuck in their lockdowns a chance to be creative and build something for themselves with the use of basic tools and a set of plans.

Mend Incense Burner  / Jason O'Neill

Mend is a reminder that we should be spending these uncertain times being conscience of our wellbeing and practising mindfulness instead of succumbing to self-destructive behaviour. Beer and wine bottles consumed during lockdown were broken and then melted back together to create a precious glass incense burner. The glass fusing was performed at home in a household microwave using a small purpose built kiln that converts the radiation into heat that can reach up to 900°C. Designer's proceeds from this item will be donated to @lifelineaustralia

Grid-Work Candle Holder / Jonathan Ben-Tovim

The Grid-Work Candle Holder is a puzzle like object made from a set of aluminium off-cuts. The design is intended for our Covid times in which every day is blending to the next. The design allows for a small daily ritual of re-invention, with the possibility of a new candle holder every day.

 Tall Bowl / Jordan Fleming

Tall Bowl is an imaginative attempt to find connection even when we can no longer occupy physical space together in the same way. The sharing of food as always been part of the human story, central to that the dinner table acts as a unifier, a place of community. So how can you isolate this practice without alienating its participants? By combining the table and the food vessel into a joint moveable structure. Constructed from accessible materials - a stash of hoarded loo paper (of course), pva, flour, plaster, colored with turmeric and using scrap plywood as a base the tall bowls took shape. Tall bowl injects comic relief in the monotony of our covid routines, bringing us together with a meal from adjoining balconies, over the fence, or from your mates front yard.

Sweet Nature Regeneration Station 2020 / Liane Rossler

My project is inspired by the ingenuity of nature. Plants and vegetables have so much life within them, and I love watching how they keep regenerating, growing and providing. During this Covid time, I’ve been giving extra attention and appreciation to everyday produce like celery and spinach and avocados and vegetables that we might think have finished their life but are actually still full of life. I’ve created something for them that they can keep regenerating in and keep providing beneficial beauty, nourishment and goodness” Part of the ongoing Sweet Nature series, these ceramic works are created in a direct process from earth to form, expressing the natural qualities of the material. The simplicity and restraint of design, pared back to the simplest form in production and aesthetics is combined with purpose and function to create a multifunctional and beneficial work designed to nurture nature.

Rigging / Luca Lettieri

Made in a temporary studio on a farm in Upper Beaconsfield , Victoria. ‘Rigging’ utilises salvaged building materials found on the property to create a sculptural work that relied on borrowed tools, community and trading of labour to circumnavigate the obstacles of Covid-19.

Sheild / Steelotto & At the above

Shield is an exploration of a now relevant typology. They are everywhere, all at once. In our shops, transport and workplaces. On the streets; where we spend, work, move, and protest. Our shields are being designed for form and function. To be as invisible as effective. The shield is the lens through which we're viewing the world, through which we are now living. Now is not forever, the typology of now is transparency.

Plane Vase / Thomas Maxam

We were inspired by maritime exploration and how sailors creatively used their time during moments of isolation, crafting objects and decorating their surroundings.  We as designers find comfort in creation and felt like we could steer people toward more rewarding practices. This kit allows people who aren't as creatively inclined,  to have a moment of gratification by creating a tangible object that they could keep or give to someone they cannot see.  Made using spare material from prototype, repurposed packaging & paints supplied by Tint paint. The Plane Vase can be placed in front of a jar/glass to become a vase or be used as a bookend. 

Studio Chair / Tom Fereday 

Celebrating the defects and marks of sand cast aluminium and raw hide leather the studio chair was created from a necessity to create a piece entirely from available materials and samples found within our studio. Juxtaposing raw cast aluminium with reclaimed natural tan hide leather, the Studio chair is an elegant yet industrial hybrid made entirely from available samples and production components. The Studio Chair celebrates the raw uncompromising finish of unfinished materials and production processes, celebrating this aesthetic rather than hiding their true nature.  

J.ALT / Skeehan Studio

J.ALT responds to the alt.material brief of ingenuity by creating a tool for designers to maximise their workflow. A compact chair ergonomics jig made from available materials and accessible CNC machining processes. Designed to add value to a creative practice, keeping the focus on developing new work. 

"Organised by alt.material, this virtual exhibition will display furniture or lighting made from materials available to the designers in their current lockdown environment.

The exhibition titled Ingenuity will take place without a physical exhibition. Designer Tom Fereday and brand Design By Them will be among participants."


"There are some that might argue the beauty of creativity lies in its ability to overcome challenges. What better opportunity to test this belief than in the midst of a global pandemic? Alt. material’s latest exhibition, ingenuity, did exactly that in September: bringing together 22 Australian designers to respond to the titular theme with limited means, using readily available and workable materials."

Green Magazine→

"In an attempt to bring the outside into our homes during isolation, this piece aims to lift our well being and boost our creative energy. Daylight is a sculptural, frosted glass lamp with a floating (6500k) full spectrum globe that mimics the same natural light of the sun."

Dean Norton→

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