top 10 modern anthems for female empowerment

Author: Molly Davidson

I’m sure many of you, like me, are not immune to belting out feminist classics like Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman. Fists clenched; eyes clamped shut as we hit all the high notes with (what we believe to be) precision. When these songs were originally released, they sought to empower a generation of women who were fighting an epic fight for equality: the 1970s women’s rights movement.

Lyrics like “I am woman, hear me roar,” became everyday phrases associated with female ambition. In her day, however, Reddy was told that these lyrics seemed too angry and that they would hinder her success. The men who told Reddy this wanted to let her know that sure, they were okay with the song and its message, but only if it was toned down.

Be powerful, but not too powerful.

The thing is, I Am Woman today is tame on the spectrum of female anger. Nowadays female anthems sound fairly different. Women are still angry, but their anger is a lot less subtle. The message that modern feminist recording artists are trying to send is less “we are strong, and we’ll prove it to you” and more “we are strong, and we don’t care if you disagree.” Now, it’s all about self-love and proving your worth to yourself.

However, while their message diverges slightly from what they used to, the conversation surrounding female empowerment anthems is still controversial. In the 70s, Helen Reddy was “too angry,” and today Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP is “too sexual.”

A month on from its release, the song is still making headlines for its raunchy subject matter. Over its short lifetime it has been labelled “bad history” filled with “hoary sexual cliches.” Twitter users have accused it of setting “the entire female gender back by 100 years,” and called its creators “children [who were] raised without God and without a strong father figure.”

But whilst not everybody has celebrated  WAP with words of adoration, the song has generated a vital dialogue surrounding a woman’s right to sexual freedom, creating change that only a true anthem could. Many of us have probably read comments condemning the song and asked ourselves why. Men have never had an issue sexualising women before, so why is it an issue now? This conversation has highlighted that men are excited by female sexuality – as long as they have control of it. They want us to be sexy, but not too sexy.

Be powerful, but not too powerful.

Anthems for women these days are anthems that make us feel good. That voice our insecurities and let us know we’re accepted. That prove we’re aren’t the only ones who are angry, and ultimately, provide hope that maybe change will soon come.

If you need a pick-me-up or you’re fed up with the way things are and want to feel that your anger is valid, here are my Top 10 Anthems for Female Empowerment. Clench those fists, clamp those eyes shut, and channel your inner rock goddess as you hit play:

  1. WAP – Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion

The discussion this song has generated earns it the top spot on this list. One of the best parts about WAP is that is has enabled people to realise the double standards placed on women in music. In truth, Cardi and Megan have made a song that nobody would have batted an eye to had they been men. Case in point: in 2018, Kanye West and Lil Pump dropped I Love It. A song that repeatedly calls women “hoes” among other NSFW lyrics, yet it was received by the public with minimal outcry. Cardi and Megan, on the other hand, made a song that many women were afraid to make out of fear for how it would be received. Now, that song is now dominating the charts and paving the way for future feminist anthems.

  1. Boys Will Be Boys – Dua Lipa

As far as Dua Lipa goes, this is some of her best work. This is one of those songs that makes you angry, but that’s exactly why you love it. In Boys Will Be Boys, Dua takes aim at the archaic notion that boys behaving poorly is just “boys being boys.” Repeatedly, she states “the kids ain’t alright,” urging people to change the way that they are raising their children. All in all, this song is poignant and well written. It’s a ballad that I can’t listen to without feeling fully invested. No matter what mood I’m in, I always find myself singing along.

  1. Fall in Line – Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato

Given that it’s sung by two powerhouses who have dominated the industry for years, I’m surprised that this song hasn’t received much attention. Fall in Line ultimately rejects the idea that women exist to be sexualised for male entertainment. Addressing “little girls,” it says, “you do not owe them your body and your soul.” As two women have gained recognition in an industry that so overtly sexualises women, it’s not too far-fetched to think that this might be why the song hasn’t garnered much success. In the song, Christina and Demi even address how Fall in Line may generate anger for calling out the industry, with the lyrics like “I’m gonna pay for this. They’re gonna burn me at the stake.”

  1. Homecoming Queen – Thelma Plum

This song provides insight into how young Aboriginal girls feel growing up in Australia, where mainstream media is so whitewashed. Thelma sings about how she rarely sees people who look like her in the magazines, but she doesn’t need to in order to feel powerful or beautiful. She will be her own homecoming queen.

(Sidenote: make sure to keep supporting our homegrown talent – the Australian music industry has taken a hit this year!)

  1. Soulmate – Lizzo

Lizzo’s entire body of work consists of anthems focused on empowering women, so choosing just one was difficult. While most of her songs are about being confident and loving yourself, Soulmate shows a different side to Lizzo. Essentially, the song is about how self-love can still be difficult, even for those who seem to be the most sure of themselves. Soulmate is raw and emotional and honestly, it’s right up there with some of her better known music.

  1. L.U.T – Bea Miller

Some say being a slut is a bad thing, but this song tells a different story. In S.L.U.T, Bea Miller takes back the label. The first line, in fact, is “I love myself.” If that doesn’t tell you what kind of song this is and why it’s on this list, I don’t know what will.

  1. A Scary Time (For Boys) – Lynzy Lab

Another song that will make you super angry, but in a good way. It’s a scathing response to men who feel under attack by the Me Too movement, riddled with sarcasm that will make you giggle but then shout “EXACTLY, THIS GIRL GETS IT!”

  1. Lady Powers – Vera Blue

Another prime example of the homegrown talent we are lucky to have here in Australia: Vera Blue. The title of this song speaks for itself, and more than justifies its spot on my list. Lines like “not gonna beg for your respect, I won’t be defined by your eyes,” demonstrate exactly how this song encourages self-love and finding your worth.

  1. Hey Girl – Lady Gaga and Florence Welch

If ever you’re having a down day, pour a glass of wine and turn on this song (better yet, listen to the entire Joanne album – it’s genius.) In Hey Girl, two of today’s greatest singer-songwriters came together to bring us a song about women supporting women. “If you lose your way, know that I got you” are the supportive words every girl needs to hear from her girlfriends. This song makes me think of the support system that I am lucky enough to have every time I listen to it, and it always makes me feel better.

  1. Salute – Little Mix

Really, there are a lot of songs by Little Mix that are deserving of a spot on this list. Shout Out To My Ex turned the archetype of a breakup song on its head (Perrie Edwards really said “why do I have to write a sad ballad about being heartbroken?”) These women managed to become a global sensation in a society that historically would rather support male groups (for every Spice Girls, there was an NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Boys II Men, Take That, and so many more). Salute deserves its spot on this list because put simply, it screams girl power. Its message is like that of Beyonce’s Run the World (Girls) – x10.

Give it a listen if you need a hype up. Give all these songs a listen if you need a hype up!

Header image by Dakota Corbin via Unsplash.

COVID-19 Series: #6

Author: Andrew Dopper

“I’m not insane!” screams the hysterical man, hair plastered to his head with sweat.

A psychiatrist sits him down. Momentarily calmed, the man begins talking, recounting his return to California.

“At first glance, everything looked the same,” he says, his eyes gleaming wildly.  “It wasn’t,” he adds . “Something evil had taken possession of the town.”

This excerpt is from the opening scene of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), a science-fiction horror about people becoming “pod people” or becoming “them”. On the surface, the film is a run-of-the-mill 1950’s horror about aliens possessing people. Sounds fun, right?

In fact, it is widely regarded and almost laughably obvious, that the inspiration for the film was the fear of Communism invading America. Them are the Soviets. This era is now often referred to as “The Red Scare”. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was one of countless films inspired by Cold War paranoia. Paradoxically, half of Hollywood at the time of filming were actually Communists. The hilarity.

In the wake of the 1973 global oil crisis, which saw petrol shortages and looting across Australia, we saw a young Mel Gibson roar through lawless highways in 1979’s Mad Max. Later, in 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Max takes out a Geiger counter to detect radiation within the stock of a junk-laden water-dealer

“What’s a little fallout, ey?” the vendor says, as Max trudges off.

Whilst the first two Mad Max films remain the most loved, it’s the aesthetic of Beyond Thunderdome that is still evident in post-apocalyptic fiction today. Unlike the first two films, Beyond Thunderdome was inspired by concern of the nuclear bomb, which saw people living in constant fear of Mutually Assured Destruction (aka M.A.D: They bomb us, we bomb them, repeat––until nothing’s left.) This was a very real scare leading to countless close calls, from the Cuban missile crisis to that time Boris Yeltsin nearly nuked some Norwegians studying the Northern Lights in the 90’s. Yes, that actually happened.

On the 11th of September 2001, a terrorist attack rocked not only the US, but the entire world. After a few years, the superhero genre dominated cinema across the globe. These films usually saw American heroes come out of the woodwork and save the world by stopping foreign bad guys from blowing up Manhattan. It doesn’t take a scholar to notice the inspiration there.

The influence of world events on cinema is clear. What was essentially a 50-year-long dick-measuring competition between the US and USSR inspired not films featuring Americans complaining about Communists at BBQs, but countless sci-fi horror, espionage and spy films. High petrol prices caused by political bickering gave birth to forty years of spike-studded, shotgun-wielding post-apocalyptic media, not films about people saying “jeez, bloody petrol’s expensive. And, rather than producing films about airport bag-checks, 9/11 essentially turned cinemas into superhero viewing machines.

Today, this begs the question: what will post-COVID-19 cinema look like? Since we probably can’t expect 2022’s biggest blockbuster to be Dunny Roll Hoarders II, how do we possibly predict which genres will emerge? I mean, who knew that between 2008-2012 all people wanted to watch were shiny vampires and hunky werewolves?

One way we could gauge the type of cinema this pandemic may produce, is to look at existing films relevant to our current timeframe. Yes, this means that we have to talk about 2011’s Contagion.

Admittedly, re-watching Contagion right now is a jarring experience. I found I laughed dumbly when a Dr. told a man who should know better to stop touching his face, right after informing him how quickly the virus in question could spread.

Living through a similar crisis today, however, I found myself enjoying the film far more than I did when I watched it nearly a decade ago. Contagion was ahead of its time, a quality rare in most films. No one makes a Cold War film a decade before the Cold War.

This is where science-fiction seems to set itself apart from other genres – it often stands at the forefront of a fundamental change in viewing culture.

Recently, I also re-watched one of my favorite films, 2006’s Children of Men. and it hit me harder than ever. The film presents a version of England in the midst of a societal breakdown, one that causes the slow decay of humanity. The world around these people is crumbling under a falling capitalist empire, yet they go about their day adapting to the chaos, even as it slowly sets in and reveals a grim state of world normality, where children can no longer be born.

Unlike traditional apocalyptic cinema, Children of Men does not represent spike-studded rally-drivers and zombie-infested wastelands. It simply shows us London enduring a mass extinction.

Each country is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic differently, and it’s only  matter of time until more outbreaks occur – if they haven’t already.

Every time I watch Children of Men, consequently, I have to stretch my imagination less and less.

One prediction could be that there is a resurgence of films like Children of Men, which represent life not ­post, but during the world-ending crisis. Rather than depicting epic, country swallowing waves or Bruce Willis blowing up comets, cinema may instead represent slow yet impactful societal breakdowns. This new breed of films would provide a far slower, smaller snapshot of world crises, and in doing so, heighten the prevalence of “slow burn” cinema.

As I write this, the US is experiencing a time of civil unrest caused by police violence; unrest that has rippled across the world and is building every day. Today’s lack of trust in those who lead is a far cry from the celebrated world leaders of yesteryear.

People are seeing the cracks in the capitalist world. We’re experiencing what happens when world leaders actually have to step up and represent the people in crisis. Some countries are prevailing, while others…well, let’s not judge…

*Cough* Trump. *Cough*

In order to progress, we may not see entirely new genres come to fruition, but perhaps witness redefinitions of those we know well.

Comparing Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016), we see two alien invasion films; but they are vastly different aesthetically and thematically. The former says, don’t trust anyone while the latter asks, why don’t we just trust anyone? As portrayed in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Gotham City looks a lot different than it did in 1989’s Batman. Christopher Nolan’s portrayed Gotham’s zany villains more as corrupt politicians. Conversely, the America portrayed in 1995’s Judge Dredd had a far lower crime rate than the US actually does today.

The zombie films of the 1950’s people fought zombies, yet now, the zombie hordes act as mere backdrops while people fight one another. Post-COVID, perhaps, we may see the post-apocalyptic genre become something very different, departing completely from spike-studded cars and wasteland couture and edging towards something frighteningly real.

Some of you may be screaming, “but people might want hope!”

Indeed, hope is something Hollywood, and indeed publishers, always seem to advocate for. As a writer, I have been turned down many times for that reason. Positive narratives and happy endings sell. And I do think we will see a feel-good movie resurgence in the wake of this pandemic. Honestly, if the world was on fire, there would still be Pixarfilms about animals embarking on fulfilling journeys with satisfying conclusions.

But audiences are smarter than that. McDonalds might be cheap and tasty, but people still go to 5-star restaurants.

People want hope, yes, but hope comes in many forms. Cinema, like most art, is often a reflection of culture, of the contemporary. Invasion of the Body Snatchers worries, Mad Max observes, Arrival questions, Children of Men warns. Right now, people protest for a better future, not because they have no hope, but because they do have hope.

Could we see films born not from fear of the future but from a reaction to our time in isolation? A resurgence of the frontier film, perhaps – films about exploration and discovery and the natural world. Will we see people moving to more rural areas, wanting to re-connect with the natural world, escaping the rat race? Has capitalism been exposed for its impact on lower classes? Will we see a new genre of “revolution” films?

I could go on.

The reality is, we do not know exactly what film within a post-COVID world will look like. The last six months alone could very well create a new breed of consumer––one that filmmakers will respond to in kind. Remember, an oil crisis in the 70’s eventually lead to whatever the fuck 2018’s Bird Box was.

What I am suggesting, is to watch the screens and take note.

History, after all, shows that it often takes only one or two films to start a genre or film resurgence that takes over the world’s screens for years.

Post-pandemic, let’s hope it’s not shiny vampires again.

About Andrew Dopper

Andrew Dopper is a final year writing and cinema studies student. His short story Dog’s Bend was previously published in SWINE’s 2020 Representation issue. He is currently working on his third novel.

COVID-19 Series: #4

Author: Imogen Williams 

One thing keeping me entertained during isolation is scouring the weekly TV guide for films showing free-to-air. I have seen great films such as The King’s Speech, and not-so-great films such as Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. One of the former such films I’ve watched is the 1959 classic On the Beach, directed by Stanley Kramer, based on the novel by Nevil Shute. I’d been wanting to watch it for a while, since my Mum had told me it was a fantastic film with a brilliant cast including Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Ava Gardner and Anthony Perkins (best known as the creepy smiling guy from Psycho). Plus, it is set in Melbourne!

Eager to find out what Melbourne looked like in the days of my parents’ early childhood (spoilers, very different), I watched the film. All my Mum said was true; it was an eye-opening and thought-provoking masterpiece. The film is set in an alternate Melbourne of 1964, in the aftermath of a nuclear war that had wiped humanity from existence everywhere but Australia. The film follows the final months of a group of people’s lives, as they struggle with the knowledge that a cloud of deadly radiation will inevitably reach Melbourne. So, it was quite a distressing film to be watching in the middle of a pandemic, a time when many of us are experiencing a downturn in our mental wellbeing. For me, however, the viewing of the film seemed apt since many aspects of the film have direct comparisons to our current COVID-19 crisis.

In the film, a young Australian woman, Mary Holmes, is in denial about the situation. She is unable to accept that in a few months, humanity will be no more and she cannot bear to hear anyone talking about it.

People have also had this reaction in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some, like Mary, are in denial and wish to carry on as if the virus does not exist. We have seen this happen in Melbourne prior to the second wave, with several large families gathering and thus causing outbreaks. Like the film, people are literally gathering on the beach in Australia, and in the US and in the UK. They are ignoring restrictions, not wanting to miss the warm weather, despite the stupidity of such actions. This is still happening during our second lockdown, with people having parties despite the danger they present. Although we can all get tired of constantly hearing about coronavirus, as Mary did about radiation, we must understand the intensity of the situation and respond seriously and sensibly. Mary’s husband Peter understands the enormity of the circumstances and recognises the need to accept the facts and prepare for the worst, which is what we must do too.

Once Mary stops denying humanity’s dreadful plight, she plunges into depression for the remainder of the film. The stress and horror of the COVID-19 crisis has caused some people to do the same, with calls to mental health services in Australia increasing substantially from last year. Crisis support service Beyond Blue reported a 66%, 60% and 47% increase in calls in April, May and June compared to the same months in 2019. Callers reported feeling “worried, uncertain … overwhelmed” and experiencing “exhaustion and fatigue”.

Mary’s denial and depression, and Peter’s pragmatism, are seemingly familiar and justified responses to an unprecedented event. However, the way On the Beach depicts the overall community response to life’s total upheaval, is surprising, I am shocked by the incredible order and calm demonstrated within the film, as the end approached. People having parties, all conducted with an air of civility. There are scenes of drunkenness, sure, but everyone remains fairly reserved. Citizens line up in an orderly fashion to collect their government-supplied suicide pills, as their names get ticked off a list.

There are no fights as people collect their pills – a stark contrast to the video back in March that went viral, of two women selfishly fighting over toilet paper. There was no panic buying, just an acceptance that there will be shortages, like that of petrol, perhaps because WW2 was still fresh in the characters’ minds. Rather than panicking and taking all of the alcohol for themselves, in one scene featuring two men at a club, they simply grumble that there is no way the members will get through all of the bottles of port before the end comes.

Last year, I watched the 2012 American film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which detailed the final weeks before Earth was destroyed by an asteroid. This film depicted people behaving and reacting to their impending doom in ways I considered to be far more realistic than in On the Beach. In the modern film, there are riots with people burning buildings and committing murder, because they can get away with it. There is a drunken orgy in a restaurant, and people stop going to work because there is no point, so they generally run around doing whatever they damn well please.

Near the end of On the Beach, Captain Dwight Towers, commander of an American submarine, feels an obligation to captain the submarine back to the US when his crew tell him they would prefer to die at home than in Australia. Dwight is unwilling to do this, since he would like to stay and die with his lover Moira. However, he decides to leave her behind to help his men head home, as he sees this as his duty. He does this despite the fact human civilisation is mere days away from its end.

I told my Mum that the order and goodwill shown in On the Beach seemed unrealistic, and was surprised that she believed this behaviour to be perfectly accurate. Mum explained that she was alive during the tail-end of the era when the film is set, during 1950s and 60s Melbourne, and that in many ways, people showed more care and respect for the good of the whole community, rather than only caring about self-preservation and promotion.

My mother’s words concerned me, and made me wonder – has this sense of good for the whole been lost? I feel that maybe it has, that the good of the individual is now considered more important. However, often what is good for the whole, can also be good for the individual. Though an individual may decide to sneak across the NSW border, because in that moment it seems right for them, in the end this could cause another outbreak, which would in turn negatively impact that individual.

These days, many people seem to be rather disparaging of the phrase ‘the common good’. I have encountered those writing in newspapers and on social media, complaining of how the government is forcing people to be tested “for the common good” as if it is a bad thing! However, some do believe in the importance of ‘the greater good’, and I hope that with time and discussion, more of us will.

In On the Beach, the deadly radiation infecting Melbourne is invisible. An unseen enemy, just as COVID-19 is. Ultimately, though, you cannot hide from this silent killer. It is inevitable, it is going to kill you. The characters of On the Beach cannot self-isolate indoors to escape danger as we can, yet they deal with their situation graciously.

The film concludes with shots of a deserted Melbourne – not a soul on the streets. This is eery because there is no sign of destruction. The buildings are intact, with no markers that anything is wrong but the sheer emptiness of the city. These images are of striking similarity to our quiet Melbourne streets, alongside scenes of deserted precincts in other cities around the world  this year.

When On The Beach was released, the Philadelphia Inquirer stated: “There is not the slightest doubt that this is the most important motion picture ever produced… and the most moving!”. The film is considered important because of its strong anti-nuclear message, yet I now believe this is not the only reason for its importance. On The Beach can teach us plenty about the world today, and how we have changed. Beyond its thematic message, I also recommend the film for its fabulous cinematography, remarkable acting and haunting use of music (a kissing scene backed by the sound of drunken men singing Waltzing Matilda may sound unusual, but is especially poignant).

The media often focuses on the negative and selfish responses to the rules designed to help us. Yet a silent majority do remain, committed to altering their behaviour for the common good. This can be seen by the number of people who write into the ABC’s coronavirus live blog, for example, asking about the right thing to do. Like Dwight, these people personify social responsibility, which we should all aspire to.

If we all do the right thing, then eventually everything will be fine. So why not act with reason and benevolence?

About Imogen Williams

Imogen is a first year student studying a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business double with majors in History and Marketing! In 2018 she won First Prize in the Senior Secondary School Short Story category of the My Brother Jack Awards with her piece Pensioner Purgatory, which was published online.

interview with o-week folk-pop performers parkville

Author: Tina Tsironis

Swinburne students won’t be enjoying a regular O-Week anytime soon – that much is clear. But thanks to the beauty of Zoom and social media, events we would normally attend face-to-face will next week be streamed directly to our living rooms.

One such event, a live-streamed show by folk-pop band Parkville, is one of the SSU’s most anticipated virtual O-Week activities. When you listen to the wistful yet majestic sounds of guitarist Liam Bell, pianist Michael D’Emilio and violinist Dylan Knur, it’s not difficult to understand why.

SWINE Editor Tina Tsironis spoke to Parkville ahead of their July 27 O-Week performance, talking musical influences, the challenges of working as an artist amidst COVID-19, and the emotionally taxing nature of writing and recording music.

T: How did Parkville initially form?

Parkville: The three of us went to school together in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We were in different years, but we met because we were all involved in the music theatre shows at the school. After Dylan graduated, we had a few jams to keep in touch, and then we just… never stopped, and now it’s almost six years later and we’re still playing!

T: How have you found performing to an audience who isn’t standing directly in front of you, in the wake of COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns?

Parkville: It feels much more like we’re just in our rehearsals – even though there is an audience on the other side of the screen, we can’t see them so it feels like a low-pressure situation where we can relax and enjoy the experience. I think this means our livestream viewers are getting more of a look into how we are when we’re just being ourselves and having fun.

T: What other roadblocks has the pandemic presented to you, especially as live performers?

Parkville: A lot of musicians, as well other kinds of artists, are struggling at this time – being an artist often means living on a very low income, which makes artists especially vulnerable in times of economic turmoil. I encourage you all to, if you have the means, support your favourite artists of all kinds financially by purchasing from their online stores, subscribing to their Patreons or spreading the word about their art.

T: Your lyrics are so poignant and emotionally raw – and this is a compliment! To what extent does the process of writing, recording and performing a song fulfil a therapeutic function for you all?

Dylan: I can’t speak for Liam, the other songwriter of the band, but I find that I often discover how I feel about something as I’m writing about it. That said, sometimes the process of writing and recording is incredibly frustrating and demoralising and is the reason I need to take therapeutic measures in the first place! So, there’s a kind of back and forth to the role that being creative plays in my life.

T: What kind of musicians, or artists in general, is Parkville inspired by?

Parkville: Lots of them! Liam grew up listening to a lot of Motown and older pop music like Stevie Wonder, Dylan got very into alternative rock bands like Radiohead when he was younger, and Michael listens to a lot of Hans Zimmer film scores. Recently, though, the three of us have all been really influenced by the Punch Brothers, a contemporary bluegrass band who’ve really impressed us all with their ingenuity and attention to texture.

T: Did you engage in the arts at all, as university students? Can you tell us how immersing yourself in music, or other creative fields, may have enriched your university experience?

Dylan: I did a degree in jazz music, so my entire university experience was art! It was amazing to study these theoretical music constructs and work hard to develop technical ability during the day, and then go to see live music at night and be in awe of the amount of incredible musicians that call Melbourne their home. Watching live music was a strong motivator, reminding me of what I was working towards.

RSVP to Parkville’s show here.

More information on Parkville is available via their Facebook page.

Header image supplied.





exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

Author and photographer: Joshua Summerfield

Brimming with creative craft, the Australian Furniture Design Award 2020 exhibition is an exploration into alternate furniture solutions. Hosted by National Gallery Victoria (NGV) and Stylecraft, the shortlisted entries of Australia’s most significant furniture design award aspire to promote a life of luxury and contemporary style.

Part of Melbourne Design Week 2020, the biennial Furniture Design Award sees Australian designers compete with their innovations, offering the winner professional mentoring, commercial production opportunities and a $20,000 prize. This award is reserved for a current concept design which has not yet been exhibited or commercially produced. This makes for an exciting playing-field, as the designer cannot gather public response before entering it into the competition.

Located on Little Collins Street, Stylecraft’s showroom provides a sophisticated, modern backdrop to the exhibited works. Viewers are free to explore the works. Some pieces allow interaction, while others are off limits to public. This year, many pieces bore clean, geometric silhouettes. Two prominent styles were statement and art deco; an indication that Australian designers seek to make an impact in your home.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

Pieces such as Datum 72 Table, by Design King Company x Dr. Christian Tietz, explored a new perspective on the ‘ritual of sharing a meal’, inspired by ‘still life and Cubist paintings’. The modular table had recessed holes to place bowls, vases, and tableware into the surface. The table has a striking presence in the room, especially with the vibrant-coloured accessories. Though possibly susceptible to scratches, the acrylic tabletop created a futuristic feeling with the objects appearing to float in space. The piece challenges current perceptions of quality dining tables. Ultimately, The Datum 72 Table cleanses the dining room of its traditional history.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

The Floor Lounger piece re-manufactures textile waste into a functional, tactile and sustainable floor cushion, as part of the international Supercyclers design initiative. Its mottled texture is both subtle and earthy, making it an apt contender for many home styles – personally wish I could have sat on this one!  Floor Lounger is a great example of how waste can be both beautiful and useful.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

Nave by Skeehan is a furniture range which has been slowly expanding over the past few years. The sofa integrates a floating side table through steel tubing welded to the sofa frame. The soft edges create a casual, inviting feel to the sofa while the steel tubes provide a structural contrast. Sedis by anaca studios similarly uses steel combined with comfortable cushions. The chairs reference art deco styling, a style which is seeing a resurgence in the design world.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

The interesting Place Collection by Ross Gardam is a flexible and integrated lounge system. Gardam prides themselves on quality materials and attention to detail of the upholstery, which is highlighted nicely by this collection. The comfortable modules featured within Place Collection can move and change as needed, with each module containing a hidden zipper that allows the modules to be secured together. While the structural form of the collection says ‘office lobby’ or ‘airport lounge’, it nevertheless maintains a homely feel. The segments may appear rigid, but are in fact comfortable and provide solid ergonomic support.

Many shelving units and cabinets were also featured, showcasing unique storage solutions. The C5 Cabinet by James Howe, for one, creates a lasting impact on a space. The attention to detail in the cabinetry elevates the piece above the simplicity of contemporary trends, while the corrugated doors utilise a feature making a strong comeback in furniture design.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

Contrast Howe’s work with Michael Gitting’s Abandoned Cabinet, which incorporates decorative art to achieve its visually arresting aura. If the C5 Cabinet was a snack for the eye, then Abandoned Cabinet would be a king’s feast. Gittings is flexing his abstract art muscles with the decorative all-chrome piece, though the contrasting mix of styles is are a polarising force.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

The Elementary Abacus by Marta Figueiredo is another unusual piece, setting it apart from typical homefurniture. Figueiredo prides herself on sensory experimentation and creating a sense of fun in her works, and The Elementary Abacus is no different.Boldly proclaiming itself as a side table and cocktail bar table,the piece engages our sight, smell, sound and touch in numerous novel ways. The Elementary Abacus also has an abacus cube infused with incense – with its overpowering odour inspiring coughs in the throats of some viewers, it’s hard to say that the odour would complement every cocktail served on its cone-shaped platform. 

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

Lastly, James Walsh’s Anthropic Bench embraces simplicity, sustainability, and traditional craft. Though the bench is crafted from beautiful hardwood, but the feet are where the main innovation lies. To the average Joe, they might appear to be made merely of clay – and they would be right…almost. Initially appearing to be regular clay, the feet actually use the millennia-old technique of rammed earth combined with glass rubble. Walsh wanted to experiment with rammed earth as it is low-tech, low-energy, and creates no waste. Overall, this simple and practical bench would be well-suited to any indoor environment, while being easy to manufacture and assemble.

exhibition review: australian furniture design award 2020

The striking designs on display at the Australian Furniture Design Award 2020 display a level of technical and artistic expression, leaving the judges with a difficult selection process. The Australian designers have interpreted furniture in unique and novel ways, some challenging the very essence of what a ‘home’ should be.

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

Author: Grace Ashford

Header image courtesy of

Everyone’s doing it tough right now, including your regular uni food spots. But you can show your love for the hospitality industry by supporting your favourite businesses and bars still operating tirelessly around Glenferrie. Restaurants have readily transitioned into delivery services, making it easier than ever to access food and make ‘eating out’ an ‘eating in’ experience. Here are a few of our favourites. 


The Resistance

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of

Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

The staple burger joint we know and love is still operating through regular takeaway, Uber Eats, Menulog, and DoorDash. While no shisha is available through delivery, you can supplement your classic shakes with burgers, wings, and fries – very handy for when your groceries haven’t quite stretched through to the end of the week.

Hawthorn Grill and Kebab House

Burwood Road, Hawthorn

While the Hawka part of your Tuesday night is temporarily postponed, you don’t have to go without its hand-in-hand 2AM feast down the road. Our beloved HSP place is still open for takeaway and are offering delivery via DoorDash, UberEats and Deliveroo.


Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

While their Malvern, Balaclava and Carlton stores are big enough to maintain social distancing, their Glenferrie Road store is closed until mid-May. But don’t fret – they’re still operating via delivery with UberEats & Deliveroo! Treat yo’self to some yo’chi (Sorry. Had to do it).

Hawthorn HotelBeer Deluxe

Burwood Road, Hawthorn

Australian Venue Co initiative Meals for Hospo Mates will soon operate through two of your locals, The HawthornBeer Deluxe. If you’re an out-of-work hospo worker, you’ll be eligible to pounce on this deal and get a $3 takeaway meal. Stay tuned via the Hawthorn Hotel Beer Deluxe Facebook pages and check out the link below for updates about this service.

Oporto Glenferrie

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of UberEats)

Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

The homely taste of flame-grilled, Portuguese-style chicken is not far from your reach – or your taste buds. Oporto remains available for takeaway and DoorDash delivery.

Fonda Mexican

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of Fonda Facebook page)

Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

With some of the tastiest Mexican food around, Fonda remains available at their Richmond, Windsor, Hawthorn and Bondi restaurants! Open 5pm-9pm every night, with delivery available through UberEats & Deliveroo, as well as a fun link you can currently access via their Instagram bio.

Pizza Religion

Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East

Takeaway business as usual for this divine pizza place, for both their Hawthorn East & Malvern restaurants. Order online, over the phone or directly via UberEats for some authentic Italian pizzas at a reasonable price.

Bawa Café

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of Bawa cafe Facebook page)

Burwood Road, Hawthorn

Open for takeaway from 7am-2pm daily. Call to make a pickup order or deliver via UberEats or Deliveroo! You’ll still get the same tasty nibbles and great coffee. Do your part to support these local guys.

Axil Coffee

Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

There’s some classic breakfast and lunch meals available here – as well as coffee, which is still available for takeaway daily, from 8am-3pm. Just make sure to respect social distancing measures in their small store.

Boost Juice

Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn

These OGs are still mixing those Mango Magics! Download the Boost Juice app to order so you can pop in and out with speed, or order for delivery through UberEats and Deliveroo. Their Glenferrie store is open Monday to Friday 9:30am-5:00pm, and Saturday, Sunday 10am-5pm.

D’Tandoor Restaurant

Burwood Road, Hawthorn

The tasty Indian flavours of D’Tandoor, loved by so many Swin students, remains available for takeaway and will deliver to you via DoorDash!

The Counter

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of The Counter Facebook page)

Hawthorn East

Located on Auburn Road, which will grant you a nice walk through Rocket Park, The Counter cafe is open daily from 7:30am-2pm. This quaint coffee place has been supporting our community since this crisis began, with free coffees for those struggling, no questions asked –  what a lovely gesture of kindness and empathy. Please give back to this business.


My Oh My Espresso

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of

Swan Street, Richmond 

Operating as a take away and delivery café, one of the best cafes in Richmond is running their full food menu, with delivery available via Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Going the extra mile to make sure their community is supported, this amazing team have also been delivering pasta, bread, rice, and milk at cost price to anyone requiringgoods in self-isolation. They have also arranged free delivery to the 3121 area with ready-made meals. If you’re looking for small businesses to give back to, consider these guys. See @myohmyespresso for daily updates!

The Pancake Parlour

Warrigal Road, Malvern East& Doncaster Road, Doncaster

Our beloved Pancake Parlour have commenced a new contactless ordering system at their Doncaster & Malvern East restaurants – available via an online Click & Collect service and Drive Thru pickup. Cheap & easy eats without leaving your car. Also available through Deliveroo, DoorDash and Menulog delivery services.

Beer & Burger Bar

Swan Street, Richmond

For delicious burgers and beer, this place is operating full takeaway service, and delivery through Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Plus, alcohol delivery services are available when you order a burger to surrounding areas, which includes craft beer, cider & wine! Altered opening hours are 12am-9pm Thursday to Friday, and 5-9pm on weekends.

The Happy Mexican

the hawthorn-adjacent hospo places to support mid-isolation

(Image courtesy of

Hoddle Street, Abbotsford

Opening 5pm every day, with takeaway and DoorDash services – plus 1/2 price tacos every Tuesday! Providing authentic Mexican dishes, this warm little place thrives on a love for food and community. If you love Mexican, this place deserves your TLC.

Spud Bar

Richmond, South Yarra & St Kilda

Their Hawthorn branch is delivering via Deliveroo and UberEats, and their Richmond, South Yarra & St Kilda stores remain open Monday to Sunday. Don’t sacrifice nutrition when it comes to indulging in some devilish delivery. Spudbar’s got all your veggie needs covered!

Please note: delivery services like Menulog, Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Deliveroo are requesting to leave your orders at your door to stop the spread of COVID-19. Respect your delivery driver by refraining from contact and go the extra mile while thanking them for their service. And remember, social distancing measures still apply when ordering takeaway in store.