Australian Financial Review
25 October 2019
by Dan F. Stapleton
The unofficial theme of this year’s Birdcage seems to be Bigger, Bolder and Brasher. Each of the 11 brands represented in the invitation-only enclosure – Seppelt Wines, Mumm and Schweppes among them – is attempting to up the ante in some way.
High-end jeweller Kennedy is decking out its front-row marquee with millions of dollars worth of rare timepieces and casually installing a jazz band. Network 10, which has been gifted a significant slice of the front row as part of its new partnership deal, is building a fully functional broadcast studio with trackside views. And Tabcorp, which retains the expanded front-row footprint it acquired last year, is creating the ultimate gambling den, decking out its marquee with 19 jumbo screens and seven betting terminals.
The Japanese luxury car maker Lexus, principal partner of the Melbourne Cup, is presenting what is arguably its most ambitious marquee in 17 years of sponsorship (it has been a partner of the Victoria Racing Club since 2003). But instead of putting on a loud show like its peers, the brand has opted for a more contemplative experience in its three-storey ‘pavilion’ (as their Birdcage hosts like to call them).
“I’m really determined to create a completely different energy in the pavilion and make it feel and look very different to the surrounding racecourse landscape,” says Joost Bakker, eco-warrior and polymath, who is responsible for the marquee’s immersive floral arrangements this year.
It’s not the first time Bakker and Lexus have collaborated in the Birdcage. Notably, in 2016, Bakker designed the Lexus marquee structure itself; the brand has repurposed it every year since. This year, Bakker has teamed up with Sydney-based architect Koichi Takada to reconfigure and dress the marquee – taking their cues from the car maker’s newfound focus on sustainability.
“The environment is something I am very concerned with in my own work,” says Takada. “And, actually, it provides a connection between architecture and automobiles, because both industries are in a transition phase to become carbon neutral. As the whole nation stops and watches the Melbourne Cup, it’s a great platform to promote such awareness.”
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