With the NGV closed until at least April 13 due to the current coronavirus outbreak, the Melbourne Design Week line-up has been hard hit, as has programming at dozens of other cultural institutions across the country.

And while many Australians are choosing to self-isolate right now – those who are can now take virtual tours of the NGV and browse its catalogue online – the organisers of the annual design festival have opted to continue with some of the smaller-scale events on the schedule.

Now in its fourth year, Melbourne Design Week is all about asking deeper questions about the impact of design – who is it for? Is it time we were less human-centric? And what opportunities can be found in some of the challenges the world is currently facing?

“It’s not just for designers, it’s for people who are interested in contemporary affairs,” says Ewan McEoin, senior curator of the department of contemporary design and architecture at the NGV. “At its most simple, the agenda is to help as many people as possible understand the potential of design to improve qualities of life for all … but also to question at the same time whether design is actually doing that.”

Here are our picks.

Remaking E-Waste Lab

Humanity’s rapid technological advances are leaving a whole lot of electronic waste in their wake. So what can be done? This event series – for designers, artists, creatives and anyone else interested in the subject – includes workshops where participants can learn different techniques to tackle e-waste and give old devices a second life. E-waste is an enormous environmental challenge, but one that provides opportunity for innovation.

Exhibition: Friday March 20
RMIT University
Bookings Required

Atmosphere: A Revival

The Old Alphington Swimming Pool has been transformed into a sauna. The pool has been abandoned and unused for decades. Now it will provide the site for Atmosphere: A Revival, which is designed to prompt conversation about public bathing, and how and why its popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years.

Saturday March 14 to Friday March 20
The Old Alphington Swimming Pool
Booking required
Capacity: 10 people

Fiona Lynch Work Shop 4

From the award-winning designer behind some of Melbourne’s most beautiful spaces, Work Shop is an experimental gallery and store breaking down the boundaries between art and design. For the showroom’s fourth installation, Fiona Lynch has brought together several designers and collaborated with each one on a number of beautiful objects and fixtures. With furniture maker Daniel Barbera, she’s produced a striking, handcrafted minimalist robe with finished aluminium and oak timber. She worked with archival garment maker Catherine Shannon on a hand-sewn statement light made with silk and finished with house paint. This is one of design week’s quieter exhibitions, but its meditative, arresting nature is worth experiencing.

Thursday March 12 to Sunday March 22
Glasshouse Road, Collingwood
Free entry

Breathe Life Into a New Garment Using Upcycling Techniques

This one-day workshop delves into the importance of sustainable fashion and how upcycling old garments can lessen the fashion-industry’s footprint. Learn simple sewing techniques and deconstruct an old garment before reconstructing it into something new to take home.

Saturday March 21, 10am–5pm
Level 3, 185 Spring Street, Melbourne
Bookings required

Home Made: Reinventing How We Live in Melbourne

New, innovative housing models are popping up all over Melbourne, with many more in the pipeline. Find out how the city is being reshaped by inclusive urban developments designed with people, not profits, in mind.

Exhibition: Saturday March 21, 10am–4pm
Tree Paper Gallery, Campbell's Arcade, 295 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Free entry
Bookings required

Designing for a Less Lonely City

By 2030, at least 3.2 million women aged 80 years and older are expected to be living alone in cities around the world. How do we design for less lonely cities? This event explores how architecture, businesses, health professionals and more can work together to create communities where elders are included and thrive.

Saturday March 21, 2pm–4pm
Level 2, 155 Pelham Street, Carlton
Free entry
Bookings required

Melbourne Design Week runs from March 12 to March 22. Find the full program here.

Covid-19 (coronavirus) means we’re living in unprecedented and uncertain times. Victoria has declared a state of emergency, mass public gatherings are banned and minimal social contact is recommended. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, check out the latest updates from the Department of Health and Human Services.