by Tess McCabe
We start our North/West Melbourne tour by hopping on a #57 tram from the city.
Our first stop is Peel Street where we meet Bob Jovanovski from Lumbi. Their website claims ‘At Lumbi, we love fabric, the medium for our contemporary designs, the vessel which captures our art and delivers it as personal and home accessories.’ And they back up that claim by taking DIY decoration to a whole new level. You can literally spend hours (and hours) on their website playing around with their interactive decorator program Lumbi DECOrator, creating a virtual living room decorated in custom-coloured designs. Then, it’s as simple as printing out your creations, taking it to Lumbi, and within a fortnight they’ve turned your creation into a reality! You can even supply your own artwork, which would make most creative people who’ve ever wished they could put their graphic ideas onto fabrics and homewares giddy with glee (hands up here).
After Lumbi, we wander around the corner to Design Loop, to check out an exhibition by people who are creating new things from old, and completely rewriting the phrase ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure’.
When I arrive to talk to Nick Seymour about Design Loop’s Pop-Up entitled eBay on the Freeway, he had just come back from rescuing part of the exhibition from the clasps of a frugal neighbour.
“[A chest of drawers we found] has only been sitting there for 15 minutes, and I just looked outside and this woman was carrying it down the street! I mean I can’t really blame her, that’s what the whole thing is about. It’s ok though, I got it back. And she’s going to come to the exhibition.”
eBay on the freeway celebrates the rescuing of furniture left for dead on the side of the road and giving it a new lease on life. The exhibition has several participants including Nick, who is currently making a pair of discarded McDonalds plastic chairs into a swing set.
“Matt Dunley finds stuff on the street, takes it back to his house and mashes it up and reworks it, turns it into something else… then he puts it back on the street. He’s been doing this for years. Matt deMousier is an artist, and he’s on good terms with the guy who’s in charge of items that have at IKEA’s loading dock in a damaged state – so basically furniture that has gone into production but is destined for the tip, completely bypassing any consumer. He’s converting that stuff into new products.”
The almost-non-existent chest of drawers will be given a makeover on life by artist Vida Lay.
I think briefly about that abandoned chair that has been sitting on a curb near my home for days and wonder if it could become something more… but before I think much longer I am at Famous When Dead Gallery (conveniently located right next door to Design Loop).
JD Mittman, an contributor to MIDF 2007, only opened FWD in March this year. JD, Nick Seymour and Bamakko’s Ben Maxwell came up with the idea for Projeckta 57. “It originated because we wanted to promote the businesses in the area, feeling that something is going on here in North/West Melbourne’
“[The retail outlets] all have their own identities, but we are all involved in some way in the production and designing of products. So the idea was to somewhat showcase the design process – something that you usually don’t see”.
Famous When Dead will dedicate part of their gallery to an exhibition called Failed, showcasing 5 different design prototypes which didn’t make it into production. “It was actually a lot more difficult than we originally thought – to find designers willing to present something that for one reason or another didn’t work out” says Mittman. Regardless the exhibition is sure to give patrons an insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes of a product or artwork, and the surprising variety of reasons why they didn’t make it into production.
No need to jump back on a tram just yet, as our next stop is only across the street. Bamakko is a clothing, accessories, gifts and homewares store that supports locally made products exclusively from Melbourne designers. Some of the products are SO local that they are made right there in the store. Behind the counter, when owner Ben Maxwell isn’t serving customers, he is making bags for his label Ke:ec. It’s all a way to engage the customer with the creation process.
The criteria for products stocked at Bamakko is that is has to be made in Melbourne, which means the store is a great platform for emerging local designers who may only work on their wares after hours, or don’t have the capital or marketing power to approach bigger retailers. It also means if you want to support a local designer, you the choice of products is wall to wall.
A handful of Bamakko’s designers will be instore on Saturday 17th and Saturday 26th from 11am to talk about their handmade products and design processes, while local illustrators make a live mural on the Bamakko store front window.
Kids In Berlin is the go-to place for People In Melbourne to get their locally designed and made clothing and accessories. They also have photography displays by locals, and one can wander around the store in awe of the incredible talent we have in this city. Their website/myspace has an ever-increasing list of labels in stock and they’re partial to the odd in store contest, mega sale and giving discount entry to their adoring ‘kids’ at places like Pogo and Click Click. They love local and insterstate designers and it shows.
During the festival, KiB will present Design Demystified, a window display inspired by some of their designer’s studios and work spaces, and a photography exhibition by Matt Solomon. You can also meet some of the designers! Madeline Beatty (Madz has Runaway) will be instore 3-6pm Friday 18th July, Liz Jones (Betty Jo) 2-5pm Saturday 19th July, Anna Blanford (Anna Laura) 3-6pm Friday 25th July, and Angela White (Sew Your Own) 2-5pm Saturday 26th July.