Eight days, five super Scalies, sixteen talented makers, two mobile shops, a bunch of wonderful volunteers, and hundreds of pieces of beautiful design: This was Mobi Des.
The State of Design Festival 2011, saw a newcomer to the world of design, namely, The Scale of Things. With the encouragement of the State of Design organisers, we took an idea from its inception on the application form (filled out on a whim!) all the way to a trading business and design experience during eight days of the festival. Part of the Look.Stop.Shop component of the festival, Mobi Des is a duo of roaming retail and exhibition units that showcases and supports local design. Built in response to the festival theme, design that moves, we were inspired by the mobile market cultures of South-East Asia. The result is a pop-up shop and mobile cart made of reused materials to sell the wares of a collection of talented, Melbourne based designers and makers. Mobi Des literally pushes the work of emerging designers and crafts people into the public focus.
With our temporary home at City Square, the Scale of Things and our team of volunteers could be seen assembling the stationary Mobi Des unit of a morning rain, hail or shine. And being the middle of July, the weather was definitely on the chilly side! A point of curiosity in the winter cityscape of Melbourne, Mobi Des attracted attention from the street with passers-by often stopping to admire and ask questions.
Another curio of the cityscape this July was the Mobi Des cart, weaving its way through the streets spruiking the wares of our lovely designers. The cardboard-clad, yet waterproof, rather charming little cart housed and sold a selection of the products for sale at the stationary unit.
Mobi Des was designed for ‘goodness’ according to the three core values of The Scale – honesty, aesthetics, and sustainability. We strove to use recycled or recyclable materials, locally sourced where possible and fostered relationships with emerging local designers.
Life before Mobi Des – Materials and their history
The panels of the stationary unit are made from Xanita board (X board). X board is really great stuff. It’s essentially a type of cardboard, made from 90% post-consumer paper/card waste. Unlike regular cardboard its inner layer is a honeycomb-like structure, making it much stronger. The X board we used began its life as a series of totems for a Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) exhibition in July 2010.
The vinyl used to create parts of the walls and roof came from a trip to the Reverse Art truck. The industrial off-cuts are clear, making them perfect for windows, and being plastic, are also waterproof.
Currently in the third phase of their life, the wheels on the cart have quite a history. They began life supporting a wheelchair in a hospital. Once retired from this occupation, they then became the locomotion for a project in an industrial design studio, as the wheels for a bicycle trailer. What’s more, their life won’t end after MobiDes. They are already being written into a proposal for a future project!
The cladding for the MobiDes cart is in fact cardboard that has been waterproofed. The display units were constructed from the same material. The pieces have been cut from large cardboard sheets that were originally wall panels in the Lamington Drive gallery, in Collingwood. The circular display unit was constructed from sections of industrial cardboard cylinders, another handy find from the Reverse Art Truck.
The lining for some of the display units, as well as the table-top surface of the mobile unit is made from felt. This type of felt is quite thick, and is most commonly used for sound insulation. We picked up a whole lot of this stuff from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence.
All the timber that has been used in MobiDes, including the stationary unit panel hinge supports and structure for the cart, began life as something else. Most of it came from the remains of a cubby house and some old fence palings.
In mid September, Mobi Des came to life once more in Pin-Up gallery, just off Smith Street in Collingwood. This exhibition gave us a chance to reflect on Mobi Des, the first major project mounted by The Scale of Things.
The title of this piece is the Mobi Des Wrap-Up. So I suppose I should do just that. (Better late than never I say!) Despite the long days, inclement weather, and occasional tear, Mobi Des was an incredible experience for those involved. The Scale of Things took on our first major project designing and constructing two mobile shops and establishing and managing a business. No small feat, one might say. We certainly had a lot of help and support along the way. I would hate to forget anyone who has helped us out and lent a hand so the list simply goes like this: The Scale of Things would like to show their gratitude to the makers and their helpers, the State of Design team, the City of Melbourne, our friends and of course our families, for all you have done to help us bring Mobi Des to life. While Mobi Des only graced the city streets for the duration of the Festival, it is certainly not the last you will see of it. Plans are in the making for Mobi Des to appear once more on the street of Melbourne early next year. So until next time, thank you.
Jess, on behalf of the Scale of Things. x