Good design can fundamentally change the lens through which we look at the world. Get ready to experience something extremely special at the inaugural Green Design Show at Decor + Design, Wednesday 17th – Friday 19th July at Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

Award-winning designer Sarah Tracton will be creating a stunning, immersive lighting installation at the entrance to the Green Design Show. A multidisciplinary fine artist and bespoke lighting designer, Sarah’s practice encompasses diverse mediums, including filmmaking, drawing, and ceramics.

Sarah in the Studio. Image: Oscar Colman

A graduate of the prestigious National Art School (NAS) in Sydney, Sarah is now firmly entrenched in the Melbourne design scene, with multiple awards and commissions ranging from a restoration of a 1910 Church in regional NSW, James Vivian in Toorak to a Brooklyn loft in New York.

Sarah has become known for her diaphanous, otherworldly lighting designs. Using experimental ceramic techniques, Sarah expertly crafts architectural porcelain into bespoke lighting features. Layers of 100% Australian porcelain slip are poured layer by layer onto plaster slabs, infusing them with iridescent hues reminiscent of our natural landscapes. Fired at high temperatures and painstakingly hand assembled with customised electricals, her lights emit a soft, ethereal glow when illuminated by integrated energy-efficient LEDs.

Infused with opalescent reds, oranges, blues and greens, Sarah also employs the ancient Japanese technique of Kintsugi golden repair to salvage what was shattered in the firing process. The pieces emit celestial, luminous translucency when lit from within, an incredible fusion of fine art and functional design.

Kintsugi Light.Photo, Oscar Colman

These stunning lights will be unmissable at the inaugural Green Design Show, which will be a demarcated area within Decor + Design that celebrates the best in sustainable Australian design. Sarah will be side-by-side with leading sustainable brands including Koskela and Cultivated. Register now to visit.

Illuminating Craftsmanship with Technology

Functional art needs to be backed by great science. Sarah’s innovative craft is illuminated by the technical brilliance of Dr. Ian Watkins, who holds a PHD in Chemistry and is President of the Inventors Association of Australia Inc (Victoria). Ian collaborates with Sarah to push the boundaries of artistry, enabling her designs with seamless functionality.

Kintsugi Light.Photo, Oscar Colman

Ian pioneered a groundbreaking, Good Design Award winning system, where the lights are suspended by a system of near invisible slimline wires, eliminating unsightly visible cabling, and creating an effect of mid-air buoyancy. Together they create small-batch hand-made lighting that is sustainably and ethically produced in Australia, using all local materials, eliminating carbon heavy overseas freight.

Sarah’s unique designs have earned her a slew of accolades, such as a prestigious Good Design Award in 2021 for her Lucent CollectionShe is also a recipient of Creative Victoria’s Creators Fund, a two-time finalist for Australia’s Next Top Designer, and an AMP Tomorrow Maker awardee for her innovative fusion of ceramic art with industrial design principles. Sarah has held solo exhibitions at Abbotsford Convent and Linden New Art as part of Melbourne Design Week 2023, and just showcased at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City. 

Sarah also has other strings to her bow. She recently gained a chef qualification at the William Angliss Institute, completing over 800 hours of training, challenging her in the crucible of one of the most rigorous environments that exist – the commercial kitchen. She also balances her art practice with a career at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) as a Senior Website Advisor, surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the country. “I like testing both my analytical mind and the creative. The parallels between cooking and clay techniques are so intriguing to explore,” says Sarah, encapsulating her philosophy of embracing interdisciplinary exploration. 

A Unique Sensory Approach to Lighting

Sarah was born with moderate hearing loss, becoming profoundly deaf in her twenties. “Sensory deprivation is the impetus for my creativity,” says the designer. “This journey has been illuminated by the phenomenon of cross-modal neuroplasticity, where the brain adapts to compensate for the loss of one sense by enhancing others – in my case, the visual.”

As an artist, I see my vocation as akin to the art of kintsugi repair, where challenges are spun into gold. Complete silence has gifted me with the hypnotic immersion necessary for the state of flow required to create.

Sarah received cochlear implantation, gaining access to a world of sound while retaining the heightened awareness of atmosphere, colours and materials that characterised her experience of sensory deprivation.

“Light holds particular significance for those who experience sensory deprivation, and for me, the restoration of sound has brought a new dimension to my practice. Working with iridescent colours and the luminosity of porcelain encapsulates the transformative journey from silence to sound and light.”

Kintsugi Light.Photo, Oscar Colman

Immerse Yourself in Sarah’s Award-Winning Craft

Green Design Show visitors will be able to experience several of Sarah’s most recent beautiful lights – Ladder Light, Triptych Float, TriVertex and Kintsugi Wall Light.

Kintsugi Light is a wall light that fuses fine art and functional design. As the porcelain sheets are fired, they show signs of natural imperfections, which reveal their unique character. Instead of discarding flawed pieces which break during the heat of firing, the kintsugi gold leaf repair technique is employed.

This transformative process not only breathes new life into what was once considered waste, but it also imbues the ceramic with a newfound beauty, characterised by its golden scars. Each lit surface reveals entirely unique one-of-a-kind idiosyncrasies, while challenging the paradigms of wasteful use and replace mindset.

“As light fittings, Sarah’s works can be seen as being purely utilitarian. Turn them on and they provide light over a table or wash a wall with a warm moody glow. However, they are more than that. They are sculptural objects informed by ideas of the circular economy and historical cultural practices.

Each pendant therefore becomes perfectly unique in its idiosyncrasies, objects that wear its beautiful wounds and in doing so, acquiring the independence to tell the story of its own being.” – Dr Vincent Alessi, Director of Linden New Art, St Kilda.

At the heart of Triptych Float (pictured top of this article) lies a single-wire system developed by Dr Ian Watkins, ingeniously supporting a geometrical pyramid triangle formation. This framework showcases the idiosyncrasy of each porcelain sheets, handcrafted through a niche clay poured on plaster technique.

Ladder Lights is a cascading design of three linear cylinders infused with green and gold gradations, while Trivertex is a groundbreaking light system of stunning balance and geometry that is powered through a single wire.

TriVertex and Ladder Light. Linden New Art, Melbourne. Photo: Sarah Tracton

The ‘Slow Clay’ Ethos & the Beautiful, Ancient Art of Kintsugi

Fast furniture continues to be produced en masse, despite our growing consciousness around environmental sustainability. Rethinking our relationship with objects and making better choices is fundamental to a paradigm shift, which is the raison d’être behind the launch of the 2024 Green Design Show at Decor + Design. Part of that is creating lighting that lasts for generations.

“Confronting the major global challenge of sustainability and waste is at forefront of my studios ‘slow clay’ ethos,” says Sarah. “It is an antidote to the proliferation of mass-produced cheap materials in the lighting industry, Kintsugi golden repair elevates the exquisite beauty of translucent porcelain, with a zero waste output.”

You’d be remiss not to see Sarah Tracton’s delicate but powerful work at the Green Design Show, Wednesday 17th – Friday 19th July. Register now to visit. Entry to the exhibition is free but limited to design trade visitors.