“It’s not like anything else. The fact that it’s almost impossible to pull off kind of contributes to the magic of it a little bit, because you’re like, ‘Oh, what have they gone and done this time?’”
Lucy Feagins doesn’t do things by halves. So if she’s going to have an open-house event to showcase the work of creatives she champions on her website, The Design Files, she’s actually going to build a house.
What better way to bring her audience and makers together?
Today the fifth iteration of The Design Files Open House kicks off, returning after a two-year hiatus. The event runs until Sunday.
The event has been over nine months in development, and three months in construction. Why? Because an entire “home” has been built for the occasion.
“We’ve taken on this large, open warehouse space with nothing in it and we’ve constructed what looks and feels like a home,” explains Feagins. “That’s the whole ethos of the event: it’s meant to feel exactly like an Australian home, filled with beautiful Australian design.
“It’s been quite a big construction job for a four-day event … It’s basically built to feel like an open-plan apartment or a house where one room flows to the next.”
The Design Files has built internal walls, a functional kitchen, and all of the trimmings of a home including a bar area stocked with cocktail ingredients, and a personal library filled with local and international titles from Fitzroy bookstore Happy Valley.
To complete the cosy, at-home feel, Feagins commissioned landscape designer Phillip Withers to create a garden for the 2017 home.
“We’ve never done a garden before for Open House” says Feagins. Withers “won first prize at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show for this huge, sculptured garden with paving and water features that was completely temporary, but didn’t look temporary at all.”
No matter how engaged readers of The Design Files are, Feagins says that there are limited opportunities for makers – or herself – to connect with an online audience.
“Open House is our impression of The Design Files brought to life,” says Feagins. “It’s a physical manifestation of the designers, makers and artists that we feature online, but it’s also our one chance per year to engage with our readers face-to-face.”
Inside the house you’ll find work by 60 Australian makers and artists including painter Caroline Walls, sculptor Den Holm and furniture maker Henry Wilson. Each room is filled with ceramics, glassware, lighting and furniture, and everything on display can be bought on the spot.
For the first time, a series of design-related talks will run adjacent to the main event. TDF Talks involves 10 speakers from a range of creative fields including architecture, photography, art, styling and social enterprise. All proceeds from ticket sales for this series will go towards the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. As they’re small sessions, Feagins strongly encourages booking in advance.
“[Open House] has been run for a long time and it’s always been quite focused on selling products, but I feel like it’s more about community – something that brings our readership together,” Feagins says. “TDF Talks seemed like a way that we could engage our community, and also give back to it.”
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