At Contemporary Wine In Design last week you may have asked yourself: ‘who is that tall, blonde man running around the place?’ Well, if you did, I can help you out. It was David Congram, Contemporary‘s very own Editor. But precisely who is he?
He’s not one for throwaway culture and he doesn’t back the ephemeral trend. He doesn’t mollify anymore than he analyses. He’s a fresh face in the industry and each morning as he stirs he’s inspired by buildings. Equal parts poised-and-composed and eager-and-enthusiastic he’s taken the reins at Contemporary bringing the wider A+D community’s awareness back to the great things architects and designers are achieving in Western Australia.
“Contemporary is simply about the West Coast talking back, rather than being spoken for,” says David. But he’s the first to admit that even though this might be the case, Contemporary is nothing new: Western Australia has always been achieving great things across all design disciplines. “It’s not: ‘hey look at us we’re doing cool stuff, too’…we’ve always been doing it,” he points out.
“There’s nothing about Western Australia on the front page except for the content of the articles. You almost wouldn’t know. And that’s the point. It’s not that WA is separate [but] its A+D professionals deserve to be met on their own terms [and] have their own design discussions. Locally, then across the continent, and then internationally,” says David.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the West Coast has a distinctive style when it comes to architecture and design. It might not always be the case but it’s certainly not a baseless thought. Whether it’s their casual approach, unique orientation to time or deliberate consideration of stakeholder responsibility by West Australian architects and designers for West Australian consumers – it’s hard to ignore. “There seems to be this sense that things are fated to last,” notes David, “and also a very strong sense that things won’t pander to passing trends or fleeting moments.”
So what can we expect from David? Discussion: encompassing, transparent and inclusive. “I’d like to see Western Australia talking back to Contemporary and [us] talking back to them and so on,” says David. In response to the charged and changing political scene in Perth – and its roll-on effect on public architecture planning in particular – David’s got a few musings of his own.
“When we speak about design and architecture, it seems to me that we too seldom ask the kind of emotional questions we really want to. Yes we can natter on about whether something is sustainable, ergonomic, user-oriented, human-centric. But we often forget that while we shape objects and spaces, they in turn shape us far more than we could imagine. We should also be asking: can we expect architecture to speak for us? How do we construct buildings and then fill them to represent cultures? ‘Ours’ or ‘Theirs’ or anyone else’s? What kind of people consume them? What kind of people present them? How do we frame that? A building or product stands for much more than being simply just there,” he poses.
In David’s own words, “there’s plenty to talk about.”
Words by Holly Cunneen.