For the fourth installment of The Design Files Open House, Lucy Feagins – the editor and founder of the wildly popular design blog – needed to find a space to showcase the wares of more than 70 artists, designers and creative brands, and she needed somewhere big.
“Every year the location is the hardest thing to find,” Feagins says. “Open House used to occur in a residential home, but it’s getting to the point where it’s such a big event, it’s become too difficult to do it in a house.”
Previous Open Houses have taken place in private residences in Fitzroy, Windsor and Hawthorn. But with 7000 Melburnians expected to roam through the 2014 Open House over a period of four days beginning December 4, Feagins made a locale change.
“I was looking for a warehouse and something I could create and design from the ground up. I had been stalking this building,” she laughs, referring to Open House’s current home – an airy, multi-level industrial space on Smith Street, Collingwood.
As in years past, everything you see here is for sale – even the remarkable technicolour light fixtures that reveal themselves as you enter the showroom. The artist responsible for them, Moya Delaney, is based in Melbourne and stitches together old parachutes and flags to produce the large-scale, harlequin light fittings.
Feagins is local in her focus; the Open House (like her website) features furniture, homewares and art produced mainly by Australians, in Australia. The more far-flung artisans hail from New Zealand (such as handmade furniture and lighting designers Douglas and Bec) or are Aussies based overseas, such as street-style illustrator Leo Greenfield.
“I want to make sure there’s new blood every year and over half of the brands, artists and suppliers this year are new and haven’t been involved before,” Feagins says.
The young entrepreneur is justifiably excited about one collection in particular – she worked with Pakenham-based potter Robert Gordon Australia to produce a range of exclusive (and very beautiful) tableware and vases – her first product collaboration.
That’s not the only debut, either. This year Feagins has added a charitable element to the Open House for the first time, asking every visitor to make a gold-coin donation in an effort raise $10,000 for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Christmas Appeal. Based in Footscray, the ASRC is Australia’s largest advocacy, aid and health organisation for asylum seekers, who have no guaranteed right to income, healthcare or settlement services.
The Design Files has, “A lovely, loyal community that probably doesn’t all know about the ASRC but which would potentially be really supportive down the track if we could just introduce them,” Feagins says. “The ASRC is staunchly independent. They don’t take any funding from the government so they can remain independent, which means they rely totally on donations.”
“I’m conscious that a big part of our website and this event is a focus on home, and making a space feel welcoming. Home means different things to different people and not everyone is lucky enough to feel welcome where they are,” she says.
So before you grab a caffeine-hit from the Seven Seeds coffee stand and pick up a bright yellow shopping basket, make your donation at the front door.
The Design Files Open House runs from Thursday December 4 to Sunday December 7 and is open from 10am to 5pm daily. For more information on the ASRC Christmas Appeal visit GiveNow.com.