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The Melbourne design markets are an endlessly inspiring experience. This piece of writing is something that was written last year about the first Melbourne Design Market I attended. it was rediscovered while trawling through some old documents on my computer, and it brought back some pleasant memories. So I thought I’d share this with you:

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The Melbourne Design Market.

This Sunday I made time to stop in at the Melbourne Design Market. This is held bi-annually, every July and December each year. Being new to the city, and with creative industries being so small in New Zealand, I was pleasantly surprised to find such a great turn out at the event. It was tucked away in the Federation Square car park, though I found it with little trouble. There looked to be around 50 stalls in total, not as large a setup as I had anticipated but judging from most of the stall content it seems their intention was to show extreme quality, not extreme quantity.

Once arriving up the small set of stairs from alongside the river, I found the atmosphere to be predominantly relaxed, but still with a little hum in the air. As expected, the crowd seemed mostly mature of age, people ranging between mid-20’s to mid-50’s, with a few families scattered through.  Unsurprising, considering the price points at the majority of the stalls, and the products which they were selling.

Most of the stalls seemed to be for already established small businesses around Melbourne, though I found a small few that were actually holding a debut showcasing of their work, and  were lucky enough to be a successful applicant for a stall holder which I found to be most impressive.

I had a chance encounter with a stall holder, Amanda, a middle aged woman who was most pleasant and welcoming. She showed my favourite work that was on display at the Melbourne Design Market, and was more than happy to share stories on how her debut collection came about to be shown there.

Amanda’s work was a collection of fashion neck-wear, the company name being Decollage. She has been in the design industry for years by trade, working as an interior designer and involving herself in all aspects from the design itself to architectural aspects. She had collected lush old coats for years and always wanted to do something with them. Her husband pushed her into finally doing something creative with them, and the result was amazing. With little experience on sewing machines she was sampling the most difficult of fabrics herself to get a feel for them, from anything like crushed velvet, thick leather, kangaroo fur, and so much more. She started collecting serious ideas and hired a seamstress to help construct them. Amanda also had a screen set up at the front of her stall showing some of the designs and inspirations, which helped her to explain her story as well. I am still hugely impressed, and it was so refreshing to meet someone who has stitched their heart in with each of their pieces, and to see someone with such a down to earth perspective who isn’t afraid to show themselves.

There were a few other stalls that caught my attention. PugnaciousGeorge.com showed simple but well-cut menswear, and claims to be an ‘online clothier + lifestyle guide of the modern gentleman.’ Very curious indeed.

Also one which was an established fashion label, ‘evyie’. They seemed to come across with a typical Japanese boutique style, though after quickly looking through a couple of items on their racks I quickly realised that they had simple but very original pieces to offer.

Lastly, there was the stall which was actually a graphic designer who had stepped into making jewelry and seemed to have done quite well. With a lot of digital inspired shapes, the pieces held their own in originality and definitely stood out among the other jewelry stalls.

There were a fair amount of other setups as well. A fair few lamp stalls were scattered about – one was a custom lamp place, where you could order a photo-printed lamp, or they had a ‘draw your own lamp’ kit – mostly aimed at children I would expect. Another had lamps that were constructed solely of recycled pieces, and others has their own unique approaches to in-house lighting.

I found a couple of stationary stalls also, one being only from obviously top quality, original and recycled products with a price point to match. One toward the back with a organic recipe book on display, made out of quality recycled materials also took my attention. Another was a large stall, seeming to mostly consist of things that would be sold in a Typo store here – very plain, not great quality – but had a large price point to rival the others.

One as you walked in was a custom design apron stall, another selling children’s themed wall decals, various fashion clothing set ups, prints and paintings on display, Japanese toys, homewares and jewelry.

The cost for holding a stall ranged between $500 – $1200, depending on the size.  More than 500 people applied to hold a stall here at the July 2012 Melbourne Design Market, with only around 50 getting through. It is a rather drawn-out application process from what Amanda discussed with me, but worth it for anyone who has the motivation to persevere. I plan to apply for my own place in the Melbourne Design Market for the next one coming up in December this year, after seeing what the event can offer I have come away both inspired and driven more than ever.

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