Melbourne is a mecca for independent creators and makers of all varieties – but they’re rarely all in the same place. No more: The Big Design Market collects the country's best homewares, textiles, fashion, jewellery, ceramics, stationery, tech accessories and gifts for kids, all under the Royal Exhibition Building’s roof.
However, with over 250 stallholders showing across the market's three days, there's an awful lot of design to take in. There are also plenty of food and drink options on offer – including St. Ali, Messina, Q Le Baker, Moo Brew, Archie Rose and Starward Whisky stalls – to keep you fed and watered, with kids activities and a major installation by Marc Martin offering a distraction while you catch your breath.
With so many choices (and so little left of your credit limit) we've picked a few of our favourite attendees at The Big Design Market.
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Chela Edmunds creates handmade and fired ceramics in her Torquay studio. Chela’s brightly coloured pieces, in both high-vis and pastel glazes, are pleasingly organic and highly functional. She fires them at a blistering 1280 degrees celsius, which makes them ideally suited for serving food – and for bunging in the microwave or dishwasher after-wards.
Any serious chef will know knife quality is extremely important – and it’s a personal choice at that. A good one will fit your hand perfectly, becoming an extension of your body whenever you're in the kitchen. Cutthroat Knives takes this to the next level, with each knife the product of a sole author. That means every santoku and every cleaver is the product of a single person, who sources the wood, steel and leather to forge every knife by hand.
When Portuguese jeweller Manuela Igreja moved to Melbourne, she became fascinated with Australian flora. These days, she channels that fascination through her practice, making delicate rings, necklaces and earrings inspired by local botanicals. Each piece is extraordinarily detailed, demonstrating Igreja's background in both mathematics and origami – it's often difficult to tell a tea-tree-shaped pendant from the real thing.
It's crazy that we buy bottled water, particularly given a) water is free, and freely available and b) Victorian water is some of the best quality stuff on the planet. The problem is that carrying a flask around is sometimes inconvenient. But Memobottle, an initiative started right here in Melbourne, makes flat, clear containers that sit comfortably in your bag, in a design that'll make you actually want to carry one.
So often, Melbourne fashion is monochrome. But the preponderance of storm grey provides a perfect foundation for bold batik prints and loud colours. That's the thinking, at least for the sisters behind Collective Closets, who were raised in Melbourne but born in Africa, and have been drawing inspiration from the vibrant scene in Nairobi. Everything in their line is made here in Melbourne and their range is extensive – find anything from high-waisted black linen pants to brightly patterned reversible bomber jackets.
Magpie Goose is a social enterprise that showcases textiles from four remote Indigenous community arts centres: Palngun Wurnangat (Wadeye), Injalak Arts (Gunbalanya), Tiwi Design (Wurrumiyanga, Tiwi Islands) and Babbarra Women's Centre (Maningrida). These vibrant prints are deployed on locally made shift dresses, shorts, tops and (extremely cute) kidswear – and they're absolutely killer.
A wallet is special. As something you carry with you everywhere, it's an expression of your personality. And a rolled-up wad of cash and a rubber band is not always the message you want to send. Instead, you should consider Blackinkk, a Brisbane designer who works exclusively with kangaroo leather (it’s more sustainable than cowhide) to make his durable, slimline wallets. Each wallet is carefully cut, stitched and inspected, making for an object that will stand the test of time.
The Big Design Market
Friday November 30 to Sunday December 2, 2018
Royal Exhibition Building
9 Nicholson Street, Carlton
Entry is $2, free for kids 12 and under
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with The Big Design Market.