Monday, July 19, 2010

Melbourne's Design:Made:Trade

The Design Files reports on last weekend's Design:Made:Trade show at the Exhibition buildings in Nicholson Street, Carlton.

Finders Keepers are running much smaller but not dissimiliar market type events regularly in Sydney, including being part of the WinterLand Festival at the Carriageworks in Redfern markets each Thursday to Saturday.

If you've had the chance to wander up Gertrude Street in Fitzroy and meander back to Carlton via Johnston Street, Brunswick Street or Smith Street of late, you will have noticed the astonishing number of shopfronts selling the designed and the made. Some big name, but much of it local startups, and much of it much closer in aesthetic and nature to the crafted object captured in Handmade Nation.

These are the objects made to be worn, used, bought, traded, swapped, cherished, worn out and bought again. These are the lived in objects of craft. They do not aspire to being exhibited, to play the role of sonorously semiotic serious, but with humour, care and a light touch are found at markets, small shopfronts, festivals and online. They are not burdened by a sense of themselves as art but crafted design. They are about small scale micro making businesses. Often they are also about careful consideration of sources of materials, environmentally friendly making practices, making things that until you handle them, you did not realise that you had a need for such a thing.

One of the problems when making furniture or interior objects is the investment in time and materials implicitly tied to the object. A small hall table may have a minimum of $300 worth of timber and/or substrate plus veneer. It may take ten hours to make - during which lights are burning, machines running, workshop rent accumulating - it is difficult to sanely make furniture in your lounge room or kitchen - all of which means that that little table already owes the maker a minimum of $800 before it goes to market. Someone browsing at the next Finders Keepers market will perhaps happily spend $80 on a felt laptop case, but baulk at $800 for a table. Designers such as Indeco have developed a pitch perfect range of kitchen and dining wear that straddles the small object with a big design idea paradigm beautifully. It is an intriguing problem to develop furniture that is able to do the same.

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