Two weekends ago the annual Big Design Market took place in Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Hall. This event has become one of the most significant in the design calendar, bringing up and coming designers and well established names to the public. One of the trickiest things about finding great locally designed and made products is location. Often young designers battle to get their products into local stores, so the market gives everyone an opportunity to show us what’s next.
Our top picks throughout the day were Little Urban Farmers, our mates at Mavericks Laces, the beautiful furniture from The Inkwood Shop, The Souvenir Society, and Bellroy. An underlying theme throughout was the high level of consideration of sustainable materials. Understandably, this must be at the forefront of all good product designers’ minds. The conundrum of designing and manufacturing more ‘stuff’ when we’re already reaching a gross level of capacity has led all good designers to make this ethos a core principle. When they combine it with great ideas and a magnificent aesthetic, you’ve got some cracking good product design.
Michelle Gibb, owner and founder, has designed a lightweight, 100% polypropylene pot complete with suction cups. The product is clever, simple and well-considered. Acknowledging the fact that the way we live now also means limited space – green or otherwise – this product can be hung from an internal window. Little Urban Farmers believe everyone should have access to fresh produce; the Malmo pot makes it pretty easy.
Melbourne based The Souvenir Society is the collaboration between Kasia Gadecki, packaging designer and Allison Colpoys, book designer. The pair make an incredible team when it comes to stationery design. Their products are striking, artful and locally made. Their reusable wrapping cloth (furoshiki) brings the art of story to gift giving, where the intention is to pass the cloth on from recipient to recipient, and so on. A beautiful, sustainable Japanese tradition made contemporary by exceptional print design.
Bellroy – an exceptional experience
With a long held love for the Bellroy product, I was already in purchase mode when I visited their stand. Seeking a replacement for an existing Bellroy wallet, one of the designers stopped me before I went any further. The much loved wallet was well worn and the lining had begun to slightly stain cards. This was not a huge issue, the wallet was around three years old and given the great price of Bellroy products, a new one wasn’t a stretch. But, the designer insisted on offering a replacement given its three year product warranty. Most manufacturers offer little by way of replacement, especially after three years. His ‘no questions asked, your happiness supersedes my bottom line’ approach gave me an even greater level of certainty about the brand.
This aside, I was still going to buy a new wallet. Product by product, I was walked through the benefits and features, while being able to test my wad of cards in the samples displayed. In this moment, I began to fully appreciate the ‘slim down’ ethos built into Bellroy’s design process.
The amount of time, care and effort spent to offer me a great experience was above and beyond what I could have expected. It’s this ethos that drives good business. Bellroy’s end goal is based on people. Too few companies commit this much to their customer. Too many companies lose out on repeat business due to bad service. It was an incredibly refreshing experience. They’ve guaranteed that I’ll be back again, without question. Funny, it only took them ten minutes to ensure it.