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The Big Design Market in Melbourne

The Big Design Market in Melbourne

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Since 2012 The Big Design Market in Melbourne has been showcasing the best independent designer and retailers of Australia and from around the world. We talk with Co-directors Simon Obarzanek about the 2014 edition.

The Big Design Market?
The Big Design Market runs annually in Melbourne on the first week of December, we started in 2012. Simon Obarzanek and Karen Burne are Co-directors of TBDM,Simon is a visual artist and Karen is a graphic designer. We wanted to create an event in the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building, it’s a Melbourne icon built in 1880. We thought it would be fantastic to make a high-end event for designers so people could meet them and get to know who they are supporting through their buying choices. We had great support from the design community for the first one, and Habitus Magazine approached us to be our media partner. While we had great designers but we didn’t know if anyone was going to walk through the door. Luckily 33,000 people came along for the first event. After the success of the first one the word got out and everyone wanted to be involved. In the second year we had great support from the City of Melbourne and the Lord Mayor and 56,000 people attended. This year who knows?

How much has it change since the beginning?
The second year we took over the whole Exhibition Building (7000 sq/m) and had a special art installation as a centrepiece for the event. Created by renowned artist and weaver Maryann Talia Pau, her 1 million stars project against violence has garnered a lot of support in Australia. We were proud to be the first installation created from that project and have commissioned it in a new configuration this year to fill the entire building. It’s going to be spectacular! We like to think that we have the best original and ethically produced products from small designers and retailers. We are very lucky that we can curate an amazing line up of designers since we have in excess of 500 applications and the event can hold a maximum of 225 exhibitors. The number of designers we can showcase has almost doubled since the first event – having the extra space makes it even more exciting.

What should we expect this year?
We go out of our way to create a relaxed shopping environment with wide pram friendly aisles and lots of areas to rest and chomp down on amazing food and beer supplied by talented Melbourne foodies: Earl Canteen, Misschu, Campos Coffee, Taco Truck and Beatbox Kitchen. Moo Brew from Tasmania have joined us this year with their delicious craft beers and Faire Ferments organic ciders, we have a dedicated tea lounge and sweet treats by LuxBite and All Day Donuts (the latest sweet project by Raph Rashid).

We also like to make it extra fun with great value show bags that we make exclusively ourselves from some of our talented designers – there’s only 500 each year and they go quickly. Plus we run free workshops everyday from design royalty such as Beci Orpin, Gemma Patford and Petite Green. Our workshops are for all ages, children included, but especially for kids they can colour-in a mystical animal mask from Sunday Morning Designs or design and make a collage portrait into button badge. There’s more on each workshop here: We think Christmas shopping should be a fun and enjoyable experience for the whole family rather than a chore!

As well as Maryann’s spectacular art installation there’ll be an exhibition of Zaishu stools – a collaboration between Matthew Butler of Zaishu and six Big Design Market designers. This year we’ll have longer trading hours – shoppers didn’t want to leave us on Saturday last year so we are now open to 7pm. Plus, The Victorian Opera Youth Choir Ensemble performing on that night at 6.00pm.

We think The Big Design Market is the ultimate Christmas shopping event. This year we’ll have new products from international designers from Denmark, Japan and Switzerland as well as launching new ranges from some of Australia’s favourite independent designers. There are so many to watch out for (see them here: we’ll just list a few. For fashion: keep you eyes open for the shoes by Preston Zly, Hobes, Duckfeet and &Attorney. Clothing by Limedrop, Monolog, Tanner and Teague, Naomi Murrell, Apom and The Gently Unfurling Sneak. Jewellery by Abby Seymour, Emily Green, Naomi Murrell, Victoria Mason and Resinate, and beautiful shoe laces for guys and girls by Maverick laces.

It really is the ultimate homewares market – we’ve got bespoke lighting by Volker Haug and Sustainable Stubbies, lamps by Retro Print Revival, bedding by Arro Home and Elson (their new leather cushions are amazing), prints by Beth-Emily and Paper Empire, tableware by The Mod Collective, Takeawei, Bridget Bodenham and Sandra Bowkett, art platters by Martinich & Carran, hanging shelves from Bride & Wolfe, wallhangings by Gemma Patford, original art by Outre Gallery, cushions from Hello Polly, retro planter stands by Mr Kitly and amazing cardboard stools by Fold Theory. For kid’s rooms we have the Hangman rack from Toby Nowland and tents from Such Great Heights. For the outdoors bicycles by Papillionaire Bicycles, garden screens by Ute Design and plywood cubby houses by Little Green Room.

Our personal favourites would be the Zaishu stools created by Matthew Butler in collaboration with our talented designers: Beth-Emily, Bridget Bodenham, Emily Green, Rowena Martinich (Martinich & Carran), Stefan Gevers (Paper Empire) and Paula Mills (Sweet William). They’re very limited-edition collector pieces – only 5 of each have been! It’s an exclusive collaboration and exhibition especially for TBDM so we’re really excited about that! And we’re going to be grabbing a couple of donuts from All Day Donuts (there’s a new flavour being launched for The Big Design Market).

The Big Design Market
Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
5•6•7 December 2014