You’d have a tough job putting Beci Orpin, or her works, into a neat little box. Firstly because the Melbourne designer and perpetual cool girl has turned her hand to an absurdly wide array of mediums over the years – everything from skateboards and food trucks to bubble bath and soft furnishings. Secondly (and more literally) because her latest creation is a room-size stuffed bunny rabbit whose head alone measures over two metres high. Try putting that in a box.

Last year Orpin marked the 25th anniversary of her design studio with Book of Girls, a collection of sketchbook images and archival ephemera from a quarter century of creating. “The thing that stayed the same is my thought process, and how I come up with the ideas – that’s all in my sketchbooks,” she tells Broadsheet. “It always seems to be colourful and bold, you know. Geometric, optimistic, joyful.”

If you’ve lived in Melbourne for any length of time, you’ve probably seen Orpin’s work in the wild. Decorating husband Raph Rashid’s Taco Truck and Beatbox Kitchen food trucks. On Metro Tunnel hoardings. Or branding for Melbourne International Film Festival.

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She’s written four craft books for Hardie Grant; been part of the Melbourne-based Jacky Winter illustration agency; and collaborated with local labels like Gorman, Mecca Cosmetica and Zoë Foster Blake’s Go-To skincare (Orpin’s smiley faces decorate the Gro-To kids line).

“I think I’m still kind of a child,” Orpin laughs. “All the things that I enjoy feel childlike a lot of the time. Apart from, you know, alcohol.”

While that ceaseless sense of play is still applied to surface design in her commercial work, Orpin’s now making a name in what she loosely defines as “public art”. Commissioned exhibitions for art galleries and “three-dimensional, experiential kinds of things” for community spaces – stuff kids and adults can interact with and enjoy.

“I really like to make art available for the people,” Orpin says. “Galleries are commonly like ‘Don’t touch, don’t speak, don’t interact’. Whereas I want these spaces to be the opposite of that. Like, yes, you can touch. Yes, you can make a small amount of noise. It’s about experiencing things, but also hopefully educating at the same time.”

Most recently, this approach has resulted in a room full of cartoonish mushrooms at the Shepparton Art Museum, as well as the aforementioned gigantic bunny – currently installed as part of the Immigration Museum’s Joy exhibition.

“The idea of this bunny is that I wanted to make it as big as I could,” says Orpin, who worked with a commercial furniture maker to construct and upholster the piece. (The frame is modular, meaning it can be assembled in situ and eventually reassembled elsewhere. It’s also sturdy enough to clear health and safety ordinances and pest inspections.)

“I wanted to make a rabbit that represents joy in two ways. It’s a nostalgic toy, so it’s looking back at my childhood.

“But it’s also that thing where, as you get older, joy is harder to find. The ways that you find joy as you get older, it’s either small things – like the perfect cup of tea or your garden – or it’s really big and overwhelming, surprising things where it’s unexpected. So that’s what I was trying to create. The big thing where you walk into a room and find something no one was expecting.

“It sort of creates this moment where all you can think of is the giant bunny. And you can lie on it, you can hug it and interact with it.”

See Mush/Room at Shepparton Art Museum until April 15 and Joy at the Immigration Museum until August 29, 2025.

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This article first appeared in Domain Review, in partnership with Broadsheet.