Innovation in isolation for Top Designs 2021

Top Designs 2021 | Melbourne Museum | 17 April - 11 July 2021

Amy Kenny - Sport in Motion

A selection of Victoria’s brightest VCE and VCE VET design students from the cohort of 2020 will be showcased in the annual Top Designs exhibition, returning to Melbourne Museum from 17 April – 11 July 2021.

With nearly 1000 applications from Victorian government, independent and Catholic schools, 95 works were selected by panels of expert educators in each area of study including VCE Media, Product Design and Technology, Systems Engineering, Theatre Studies and Visual Communication Design, as well as VCE VET Creative and Digital Media and Integrated Technologies.

2020 was an extraordinary year. Amid a global pandemic and one of the world’s longest lockdowns in Victoria, students were tasked to learn remotely, indeed one student featured, Emily Yao, completed her jewellery line The Mucho Collection from Taiwan. Students faced an array of challenges that affected their timelines and the creation of their final product; with inaccessibility to teachers, school workshops and materials, students were forced to source materials locally, and investigate new learning approaches to overcome these challenges.

Despite these increased difficulties, the class of 2020 showed tremendous innovation in isolation, demonstrating initiative and determination as they creatively overcame the challenges of last year. Students used YouTube to learn new skills, scavenged hard rubbish to score invaluable materials and one student even boiled chicken feet to replace plastic props that could not be sourced locally.

This year's exhibitors provide us a glimpse into the future of design and how aspects of design can be incorporated into many features of our ever-evolving world, including our health, environmental and creative industries.

Amongst the suite of extraordinary works, several students have explored solutions to environmental problems. From Systems Engineering, Scott Keane created the Automatic Waterway Cleaning Unit which aims to collect, measure and store litter in waterways. Haden Kneller created a Wildlife Population Tracking Device which captures and photographs at-risk animals to feed and water them, and in Product Design and Technology, Samuel Sweatman developed Chargur – Electric Vehicle Charger which addresses the increased need to charge electric vehicles in suburban areas. In Media Film, Elaf Elsheik’s animation Recycled is a poignant symbol on the effect of deforestation.

Exhibitors across various forms of design have reflected on culture and belonging. In Media Photography, Tavishek Sharma’s photo series Diwali: An Ode to Home captures Sharma’s mother getting ready for Diwali. The series aims to encourage the audience to embrace their cultural heritage and to value a multicultural society. In Product Design and Technology, Yufei Wang’s 茶桌 (Tea table) seeks to reflect the Chinese tradition of drinking tea with family and friends.

Top Designs 2021 is complemented by a range of educational programs, including introductory talks and forums from various industry professionals which provide valuable insight and inspiration to current VCE and VCE VET design students.

Gordon White, General Manager, Melbourne Museum said, ‘We are proud to be hosting Top Designs 2021 at Melbourne Museum. This year especially, we celebrate the talented designers whose work has been selected for this exhibition. 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. The works will not only inspire current VCE and VCE VET students, but all visitors to Melbourne Museum.’

Chris Wardlaw, Chair of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority said, ‘After a year like no other, it is wonderful 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. 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 is proudly presented in partnership with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) as part of the VCE Season of Excellence, which includes Top Acts, Top Arts, Top Class and Top Screen. It represents students from a range of government, independent and Catholic schools in Victoria’s metropolitan and regional areas.

For more information on educational programs visit the Melbourne Museum website.

Top Designs 2021
Melbourne Museum
17 April – 11 July 2021
Open daily, 10am – 5pm
Admission included with museum entry
Adults $15, students, concession and children FREE

Interviews available with:

  • Anna Mcleod, Curator (VCAA)
  • ​All Top Designs exhibitors (available upon request)

For media enquiries, please contact:

Thomas Holloway
Thomas Holloway
Media and Communications Officer
[email protected]
+61 478 058 805

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