Suspended Animation


Linked to Collins and Flinders Streets via a sweeping parabolic footbridge the Southgate retail shopping complex was one of Melbourne’s most ambitious river front developments in the early 1990’s. Nexus Designs collaborated with architects Buchan Laird & Bawden on interior finishes for the two upper most retail levels. Building on a theme already established by the nearby Arts Centre the developers intention was for an arts and leisure complex rather than a traditional shopping centre.

In response to this Nexus Designs commissioned talented Adelaide lighting designer Frank Bauer to produce an impressive, whimsical and kinetic suspended light fitting. This dynamic horizontal sculptural piece was the centrepiece of the upper level. Playful and delicate in appearance the installation is a serious work of art in its own right that contrasted perfectly with the solid columns and sandstone finishes of the building.

Rather than overwhelming the shopfront and interiors with a theme or overt decoration the upper level columns were clad in an understated sandstone finish and copper reinforcing the desired classic but muted effect. The very antithesis of the modern enclosed shopping complex or mall at the time, the Southgate retail project was completely open and outward looking.

Frank Bauer works as a goldsmith, lighting designer and kinetic sculptor. The precise engineering and craftsmanship that characterises his geometric and reductive jewellery is reflected in a larger scale in his light sculptures. Frank Bauer was awarded an Indesign Luminary by the DIA in 2014.


Photography by Russell Brooks Corporate & Office Design
Portrait by Anthony Browell for DIA Indesign Luminaries