Ed Redman builds classic Melbourne buildings, but tiny. Think the Manchester Unity Building on Swanston Street, less than the height of a ruler. Or The Tote, seven centimetres high.

Redman is a co-founder of design marketplace Redbubble and custom t-shirt printing company Das Tshirt Automat (DTA). He started the wooden desk model project, Gin & Apathy, after stumbling across a laser cutter at DTA.

"I found it to be the most fascinating machine I’ve ever tried to use,” he says. “It’s kind of like being given a pencil and a blank piece of paper for the first time. ‘Oh, what can I draw?’”

It took Redman 12 months to go from building his first model – a miniature of the Battersea Power Station in London that took weeks to build – to turning the concept into a business. The bamboo models start at $50. Redman describes them on Gin & Apathy’s Instagram account as, “Flatpacked distractions in a batshit world”.

"It's quite a selfish project, really," he says. The Tote Hotel, for example, is 50 metres away from his studio. His model of English manor Sleddale Hall appears as “Crow Crag” in the film Withnail and I, one of Redman’s favourite movies.

He’s now also fielding requests for custom designs; from soon-to-be-sold family homes to gifts.

Get our pick of the best news, features and events delivered twice a week

The process begins with photographing the building or using Google Street View to find buildings overseas such as the Hotel Yarba in Detroit. Redman then draws the building in Adobe Illustrator.

“I pretty much sit in Illustrator and I kind of map it in my head,” he says. “I try and pull it together in a 3D fashion and then flatten it.”

Gin and Apathy models are available online and at Happy Valley in Collingwood.


For Melbourne’s latest, subscribe to the Broadsheet newsletter.