object eye

2011 — Object’s Digital Year

2011 was a big year for Object. In addition to continuing a strong exhibition and touring program (as I write this there are six Object exhibitions open around the country) and developing and piloting our landmark primary education program Design Emergency, we have had some terrific achievements in the digital realm.

The first, of course, was back in February with the launch of Object magazine issue 60. After an eighteen month hiatus, the magazine returned in a digital form, published as a free iPad app. We were delighted when it appeared as a Staff Pick in Apple’s App Store, and even more delighted as the numbers of downloads soared past the printed figures — this shift to digital has seen many more people able to easily engage with contemporary design from Australia and around the world. Exciting also was the realisation that it is not just people in Australia who are reading the magazine — people from every corner of the globe are finding it and enjoying it. Last count was 65 countries and climbing.

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A couple of months later we launched Object on iTunes U, featuring a collection of our exhibition content, highlights from the magazine, our Audio Design Museum tours and more. This free offering from Apple allows educational and ‘Beyond Campus’ organisations to provide free audio and visual material, arranged into collections, for individual download or subscription. Object on iTunes U is one of only three Australian cultural institutions within iTunes U.

A few months then passed with us toiling behind the scenes, before a flurry of activity in the second half of the year. First up was the launch of our brand-new website at the end of September, offering a huge amount of extra content. It is, for us, a mammoth beast, and one we will continue to add to over coming months and years — not only in terms of new developments, but also information from our archives.

Hot on the heels was the release of Object magazine issue 61, first as an iPad app, but followed shortly by an Android tablet app and then a web-friendly version sitting pretty on our new website. This multi-platform development has allowed us to reach an even wider audience — now, as long as you have an internet connection you can read Object magazine.

Closing out a couple of weeks of intense activity was the opening of HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics, which marked a new prototype for Object of digital engagement within an exhibition. Rather than a more traditional printed catalogue to accompany this survey of contemporary ceramic practice, an app was produced allowing audiences to go inside the studios of the artists, with 35 videos housed on iPads in the gallery. Not only could you hear from the artists themselves, you could hear from experts and students, as well as extra material on various current ceramic movements and trends.

The app kept visitors enthralled for hours at Object Gallery, and is now touring the country, with the exhibition travelling to another dozen cities over coming years. Plus, just before Christmas, the app became available as another free download for iPads — so if you can’t make it to the exhibition itself, you can still be a part of the journey. Plus, the videos are available in Object on iTunes U, and profiles and videos of the artists were featured in our blog, Object Eye, in a series running throughout the exhibition.

Amongst all of these new developments, we also received some fantastic recognition for some of our past work. Object received three Museums Australia MAPDA Awards for two minisites developed and launched in 2010 — category wins for the Spring Series and Audio Design Museum sites, and a Best In Show for Spring Series. Plus, to round out the year, Object magazine issue 60 was honoured with a Pixel Award nomination in the Magazine category, a major international award alongside entries from Europe, North America and South America.

Here at Object, we’re incredibly proud of the work that has been done, but we’re also very excited for what is coming up — stay tuned as we continue to produce magazines, update our existing collateral, and launch new projects. I would personally like to thank my predecessor in this role, Joan-Maree Hargreaves, who set the majority of this in motion and played such a huge role in bringing it together. And, of course, as always, everyone at Object would like to thank the incredible team at our Corporate Partners Canvas Group, who work tirelessly to help deliver everything we try and create. Without them, none of this would have been possible.

Stay tuned to the website to find out what 2012 has in store for Object: Australian Centre for Design.

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St. Margarets, 417 Bourke St
Surry Hills NSW 2010

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