- Article by Natalie Mortimer
When Anne-Claire Petre of Anaca Studio and Elizabeth Bull of One Fine Print joined forces last year to open a pop-up shop, they were taken aback at the creative power of the collaboration.
The temporary shop in Melbourne’s Fitzroy proved so successful that it sparked the idea of creating an event where smaller design brands could come together and generate more ideas, bigger marketing reach and a unique proposition.
The idea became The Design Co-op, a three-day event planned for March that consists of a showcase and panel sessions aimed at the industry and the wider public.
The showcase, which underpins the event, aims to explore contemporary ideas of what ‘home’ means and how it feels. Three guest interior designers, Fiona Parry-Jones from Von Haus, Lauren Li from Sisalla and Manuela Millan from Meanwhile in Melbourne will blend products from The Design Co-op suppliers to produce a series of living spaces that illustrate how investing in a diverse range of locally-produced furniture or art pieces can enable a meaningful ‘dream home’.
“The idea for The Design Co-op came from the fact that for smaller businesses and smaller brands marketing is a really hard thing to do,” Petre tells ADR.
“Also, when it comes to doing a trade fair it’s quite often out of reach for a lot of brands, or if it’s not out of reach it’s still a massive expense.”
While some of the brands could be seen as direct competitors, the focus is on collaboration and learning to inspire creativity and new thinking, explains Bull.
“We really wanted to work with other brands that felt like us: it’s all about collaborating and how we can work together to support one another,” she says. “When we started telling people they were really enthusiastic and supportive of that idea and wanted to get on board.”
“While people are now harnessing the power of collaborating in terms of partnerships – such as when you get two brands creating a product – I think in terms of The Design Co-op, we are really using it as a marketing platform, which is unusual and unique because it’s for people within our industry.”
The panel sessions, meanwhile, aim to impart industry knowledge and spark interesting conversation. A feature panel event entitled ‘Challenges, wins and outright fails’ will offer the opportunity for industry professionals to connect over a frank discussion about working in the industry.
A guest interior designer will also present a keynote to offer both industry professionals and design-lovers insight into the behind-the-scenes of running a small business and the interior design process.
Some of the brands taking part include: Tide Design (furniture); Fox & Ramona (accessories); Relm (furniture); Lumil (lighting) and Apparentt (furniture).
The Design Co-op will run from Friday 23 March to Sunday 25 March 2018 at Glow Studios in West Melbourne.