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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
93 Aspecial understanding of public spaces is what designer Ma hew Tobin believes won his company, Urban Art Projects, the job of creating sculptures for the main entrance gates at the Shanghai World Expo 2010. UAP beat over 100 international tenders to one of the most prestigious works at the Expo, where 70 million people were expected to stroll by. "In my experience, Australian designers are truly interested in the place and the culture they are working in -- wherever that may be," says Tobin. Led by Tobin and Jamie Perrow, UAP worked alongside Xian Dai Architects to create the series of culturally relevant pieces. emes revolving around East Asian legends, Chinese kno ing and celebratory reworks inspired the monuments. " e selection of an Australian design team brought an understanding of how people interact with public spaces and an international design component to an event that's aimed at a domestic as well as an international audience," says Tobin. Concerned with the design and fabrication of public art, UAP was started in Brisbane in 1993 by brothers Ma hew and Daniel Tobin. Filling the market gap for site-speci c public art, UAP has since le its distinctive mark on several continents, literally. e theme for Shanghai Expo 2010 is 'Be er City, Be er Life' so the brief for the sculptures was simply to acknowledge the theme, the culture of China and the celebratory experience of the event. "We carefully researched Chinese culture and drew connections between culture, future cities and visitor experience," says Tobin. "As an Australian working on projects in the public realm I think we bring a culture of embracing an outdoor lifestyle and understanding that public space is truly a democratic space, equal for all to experience. We live for much of the year outdoors and through this experience we bring an excellent understanding of what engaging with the public realm is all about. Along with public art, UAP also develop lines of street furniture, playscapes and urban elements. e rm now has additional o ces in Shanghai, Los Angeles and Houston. Helen Kontouris is the epitome of a modern Australian designer. She is actively involved in many creative collaborations with high-pro le manufacturers and retailers including WMF (Germany), Schiavello (Australia), Kundalini (Italy), and Sunweave (Hong Kong). But she is not about to leave her biggest source of inspiration: Australia. Despite pressure from European clients and the expectations of the design fraternity for such a talent to relocate to a more obvious hub, she has no intention of leaving home. "Contemporary communication has liberated the way I do business. I'm not too far from the world. I build my relationships thanks to globalisation so I don't feel removed at all," she says. Kontouris' cleverly structural design pieces fuse modern aesthetic and functionality and are admired and highly sought a er in Europe. Her rm, Helen Kontouris Design, was formed in 2002 and the local and global design industries have applauded her daring contributions. e popular 101 Chair and LALA Lamp continue to sell out in designer stores, both in Australia and internationally. Named 2009 Australian designer of the year at the annual Australian Idea Awards, this Melbourne furniture and product designer took the crown in a heavily male dominated design world. "Female designers make up 10 percent of the design world, and as I understand there is only a very small clutch of female designers in Australia," she says. e accolades keep rolling in. She was most recently a nalist in national design competition Design Pitch for Corporate Culture 2009, and was shortlisted for the Bombay Sapphire Design Awards 2009 and Belle magazine's Jeorg Jensen Design Awards 2009. She is currently nominated for the London Design Museum Brit Insurance Design Awards, widely regarded as the 'Oscars' of design awards. Her latest project with Germany's highbrow glassware manufacturer, Ritzenho , was launched in February. creative designs the street artists INSPI TION FROM CHINA For the Shanghai project, the designers drew from traditional Chinese knotting techniques to create totems within the site. Urban Art Projects the chair woman