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MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission

Portrait of Tatiana Bilbao
Tatiana Bilbao, architect and founder of Tatiana Bilbao Estudio. Photo: Ana Hop

The MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission is a major ongoing series that invites internationally renowned female designers and architects to create major new and significant work for the NGV Collection.

The five-year series is enabled by a significant contribution from MECCA Brands through its philanthropic program, M-Power, which champions and elevates women in art and design. This is MECCA’s single largest commitment to an Australian cultural institution and exponentially expands the NGV’s longstanding partnership with the brand.

Over five years, commissioned designers will be revealed annually at an event coinciding with International Women’s Day in March, with the final work being revealed by year’s end. The partnership will culminate in a major exhibition to showcase the five bodies of work and the remarkable collection outcome.

The MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission – the first and only one of its kind in Australia – will create a platform to present topical, world-premiere works of international significance that amplify the contribution female designers are making to shaping our world.

For the inaugural commission – to be unveiled in September 2022 – world-leading Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao will create a large-scale installation combining textiles with architectural structure, drawing on her studio’s use of collage, drawing, and model-making. The commission will be a physical expression of Bilbao’s aim to free architecture from the conventions and canon of the 20th Century; to propose a new trajectory that is focused on community, sustainability, and ethics.

Bilbao founded Tatiana Bilbao Estudio in Mexico City in 2004 with the aim of conducting architectural design work from a position of social and ecological responsibility. Her work is known for challenging historical conventions, often rearticulating spaces so that they are more people-orientated and inclusive.

Regarded as one of Mexico’s most exciting architects working today, Bilbao has worked across institutional, domestic, and low-cost social housing, urban planning, and landscape design. Her collaborations with other architects, artists, communities, artists, and business continue to enrich the cultural and built landscape of Mexico.

Prior to founding her firm, Bilbao was an advisor in the Ministry of Development and Housing of the Government of the Federal District of Mexico City. Her architectural work was presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018 and is held in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The series strengthens the NGV’s rich and diverse collection of contemporary design and architecture, which includes internationally significant works by Patricia Urquiola, nendo, Faye Toogood, Formafantasma, Neri Oxman, Teamlab, and EstudioCampana. Since establishing a department of contemporary design and architecture in 2015, the NGV has actively commissioned and collected work by underrepresented designers and architects of diverse backgrounds, genders, and geographies.

MECCA’s support will help to strengthen the NGV’s collection of contemporary design works by women, creating a lasting legacy and advancing the NGV’s ongoing efforts toward redressing the historical gender imbalance across its collection.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: “The ongoing Women in Design Commission will highlight the ground-breaking work of women in this field from Australia and around the world, as well as strengthening the NGV Collection for future generations. We are grateful to Jo Horgan and MECCA Brands for their visionary support of this Australian-first initiative and commend Jo Horgan’s continued mission to empower women in the creative industries.

“Tatiana Bilbao’s is a compelling voice from outside of the traditional canon of architecture, offering a unique perspective on both its history and its future. A woman from North America, an advocate and a spokesperson for change, Bilbao creates work that is as intellectually rigorous as it is visually dynamic,” said Ellwood.

Jo Horgan, founder and co-CEO, MECCA Brands, said: “At the heart of MECCA is our striving to empower women and girls through our M-Power program to achieve gender equality, whether it be art, design, or education. And, it is through education that sparks creativity.”

“We have had such wonderful moments with the NGV through our long partnership, and I am so incredibly thrilled that it has culminated in this MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission so that we can spotlight the creative minds of women in the design space. To collaborate with designers of such calibre, like global innovator Tatiana Bilbao for the inaugural commission, is truly so special.”

Tatiana Bilbao said: “I am deeply honoured and grateful to have been chosen for the Women in Design Commission by the NGV and MECCA. This is contributing in many ways to advance the discourse of the importance of opening channels for people that have been left out of opportunities. When chosen, I took this responsibility very seriously and I am truly thankful for the opportunity.’

The 2022 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission will be on display from September 2022 – March 2023 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Free entry. Further information online at ngv.melbourne.

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