Paula Savage Dollar reef 2023 (detail), seagrass (cord), raffia, shells, seeds, synthetic dye, 65 x 50 x 40 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased, NGV Supporters of Indigenous Art, 2023. © Paula Savage, courtesy Moa Arts

Melbourne Design Week Award

The Melbourne Design Week Award presented by Mercedes-Benz is an annual prize awarded for an outstanding contribution to Australia’s largest international design event.

The winner receives peer recognition among the local and international design community, and a cash prize thanks to Major Partner, Mercedes-Benz.

The 2023 winner was Paula Savage, a senior Mualgal artist from Moa Island in the Torres Strait renowned for her ability to bring to life the enduring traditional material practices of her cultural heritage. During Melbourne Design Week 2023, Savage presents three extraordinary works at the Melbourne Design Fair on display as part of the FOCUS exhibition, which brings to attention the skills and conceptual prowess of five accomplished Australian female designers. Savage was selected to display works in the FOCUS exhibition through her accomplishment in melding an array of creative practices: weaving, tie-dying, carving and jewellery making.

The winner is selected from the program that most resonantly responds to the theme of Melbourne Design Week. The 2024 award winner is selected by the NGV Melbourne Design Week team.

The 2022 recipient of the Melbourne Design Week Award was Revival Projects for its exhibition Zero Footprint Repurposing. The building company, led by Robbie Neville, set up one of the world’s first free repurposing hubs during MDW: at the location in Collingwood, the design and construction industry can use the space to store demolished materials while associated developments come to life and repurposing becomes possible. The exhibition in the space for MDW, inspired designers to adopt simple re-use and recycle policies, and aimed to influence legislative change by advocating for a legal framework that obliges developers and designers to handle existing materials responsibly. 

The 2021 recipient was the exhibition A New Normal, curated by Finding Infinity, which exhibited fifteen ideas by Melbourne’s leading architects and designers to transform Greater Melbourne into a self-sufficient city by 2030.

Georgia Nowak and Eugene Perepletchikov won the inaugural Mercedes Benz Design Week award in 2020 for their work Aurum, which explores our complex relationship with gold through the medium of film. It has since been acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria.

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