Thursday, 28 July 2011

Micro Kitchen

A glorious winter day in Melbourne, perfect for some wholesome soup I think!  The Micro Kitchen by Broadsheet is a pop-up soup kitchen/ cafe at the GPO and part of the State of Design festival. 
Yesterday was a delicious Black Eyed Pea, Newmarket Smoked Ham Hock and Baby Spinach Soup.  Each day is a different soup made in collaboration with a designer and chef.  I was lucky to have the architects from Edwards Moore collaborate with chef Kate Holloway from The Premises for my lunch.  But what's with the polystyrene bowls guys?  Wouldn't if of been cute to use a mis-match of bowls found in thrift shops or something?
Bloggers everywhere!   I have to admit to being a little intimidated by these guys and their gear, puts my little canon camera to shame!  Oh well.  I've said it before, I'm definitely not the world's best photographer that's evident!
I believe that A Friend of Mine designed the interior and being graphic designers there are some cool decals and plywood spoon motifs dotted in the space.  I liked the hanging spoon chandelier also.
From Broadsheet:
With a design brief that prompts the chef to create a soup that represents the designer’s practice, soup must include certain characteristics. Monday’s included a concept that was honest, sustainable and familiar, a bit sweet, and using a particular favourite ingredient – bull kelp. The result was a designer soup of Seaweed, Vegetable and Potato Chowder. 
The Micro Kitchen opens at midday for hungry city slickers, serving hot soup with bread from Loafer Bread, coffee from Sensory Lab and local craft beer from Thunder Road on tap. It closes at 3pm and reopens for dinner at 5.30pm until 8pm. So if you missed out on you lunchbreak, get down there after work for dinner.  

Thursday 28 July: Susan Cohn (jewellery) and Maurice Esposito (St Peters)
Friday 29 July: A Friend of Mine (graphic design) and Joseph Abboud (Rumi)

Two days left so get down there people, and the soup is only $5 - cheap healthy lunch!

Photos by Lauren Macer

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Ok, so I had my rant on facebook about how this place just opened a week ago but when I dropped by for a coffee it was already packed with people.  It's just at the end of my street so I thought I'd get a quiet coffee before the crowds find out about it.  Oh no.  I was wrong.  It was pumping on Sunday afternoon filled with customers, barristas and waiters so I had to come back on Monday to take these photos.  I found out that it has already been written up on Broadsheet so the 'hypemachine' was already in motion.  I suppose it doesn't help that I'm writing about it too.  If you can't beat em...

This is Hobba, a new cafe in a converted garage in Prahran.  The interior is quite nice, very Melbourne.  Exposed brick - check, plywood insertion - check, industrial pendants - check, vintage posters - check.  You get the picture, this formula works everytime.  Don't get me wrong, it does look great.  There is a tree inside which is cool with plants dotted around the space and with the plywood it gives a 'sustainable' aesthetic.  However the overhead heaters hanging from the warehouse ceiling and wide open doors aren't exactly an environmentally sustainable way to heat the space and I can imagine it would be an oven in summer.  Anyway enough of being picky I just couldn't help it.

I ate lunch there on Monday and the salmon and crab fritter was seriously delicious.  The service was great and friendly too.

Hobba, 428 Malvern Road, Prahran

Photos by Lauren Macer

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Social Studio

I love Melbourne.  If you live near Collingwood or hang out at the old pubs and cool cafes on the weekend then you might of noticed some lovely new faces to the area.  There is a little community of African refugees living in the area and The Social Studio is a social enterprise business which employs and supports refugees. 

I walked in and had a little look around and it was lovely hearing the ladies at the counter and at their sewing machines laughing and chatting away.  I felt that this is really their space.  I couldn't understand what they were saying which made me feel a little on the outer.  This actually made me realise how important a space like this is for these ladies.  As cheesy as it sounds this somehow makes my heart beat a little harder.  I love it.  

The interior of the store floors, walls and ceiling is clad with OSB (Oriented strand board) which has been used to great effect in the space and creates a cave-like cosy space.  The cafe is totally different but has a great feel too.  The black and white checkerboard floor gives it a diner feel and the red paint is used to a great effect around the kitchen.  A few colours and materials have been used every cleverly indeed. I haven't been able to find who did the fit-out so if you know please let me know!

The Social Studio is a fashion school, designer clothing label, a great community space and a cafe on Smith Street.  It's such a good thing and the clothes are really cool as well.  

From their website:
The Social Studio is a dynamic space where clothing is created from the style and skills of the young refugee community. It is also a safe place of belonging that strives to create awareness and change public perceptions by empowering young people to achieve their dreams. The Clothing is designed and made by The Social Studios young designers using only recycled and excess manufacturing materials gathered from local industry.
The lady that is responsible for this brilliant initiative is Melbourne artist Grace McQuilten.  From IndesignLive:
Looking for a way of providing ongoing opportunities for workers, she returned to her research background, and began thinking again about artists who used design to create social change.

“It occurred to me that rather than trying to change this group of people to suit mainstream employers, it would be better to create a business that is actually designed around their skills, their culture, their talent and their creativity, and give them an opportunity to express that.”

Grace finally came up with a plan to grow the passion for fashion of the young community, by setting up a vibrant shop-front on Smith Street in Collingwood. “We are training them up in all the skills they need, and we have been reworking garments from industry…adjusting them as a way of building up skills before we develop our first range,” she says.

Photos By Lauren Macer, fashion photo from The Social Studio.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Future of Supermarket Shopping?

Don't you hate wandering around the supermarket aisles in a daze after a frantic day at work when you just want to get home?  I can't stand it.  And don't you hate wasting time whilst waiting for the train?  Well... that's why I absolutely love this idea by Home Plus (Teso) in Korea.

They have introduced a virtual shopping aisle at the train platform - seriously!  They have really thought about customer convenience by bringing the supermarket to them.  Commuters waiting for the train use their smart phones to scan product images of items usually found in a Home Plus store on an illuminated billboard on the train platform.  The items are added to a virtual basket and by the time the commuter gets home, the order has already arrived at their door.  A- MAZING!
 From The Telegraph:

Tesco’s South Korean network of shops, called Home Plus, have grown to become the country’s second-largest supermarket after E-Mart since launching in 1999, but number two is never enough for Tesco. How, they asked themselves, can we become number one?
One way, they reasoned, is to expand their online sales rather than spending a lot of money opening new shops.
Rather than expect them to search through menus labelled with tiny text that says such unattractive things as ‘fish’ or ‘homeware’, they plastered the glass walls of subway stations with pictures of their products, laid out just as they’d be in a traditional shop. The ‘shelves’ featured QR codes - squares filled with a black and white pattern, unique to the product in question, they’re a more versatile successor to the bar code - which could be scanned by the traveller’s mobile phone, building up a shopping basket in the few minutes before the train arrives. If your train comes before your basket is complete, you can carry on shopping without the pictures and codes if you wish.
Deliveries are arranged to arrive in minutes or hours, rather than days, so the groceries will be in the shopper’s kitchen that night and there is no need to wait in to collect them.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Ring Around a Tree

Proof I was actually here! We loved the experience of walking up around this tree, so whimsical and fun!
WOW.  Is this the best tree house you have ever seen or what!  This is the latest addition to the Fuji Kindergarten in Tachikawa, Tokyo and we were lucky enough to see it when it was freshly completed in February.  The contractors literally had just put their tools down when we arrived after an epic journey of getting terribly lost and then jumping on the wrong train in the wrong direction (sorry again Andy!)  Anyway we were thrilled when we finally made it unannounced and the lovely young lady greeted us and gave us a fabulous tour, we could not believe our luck.  Yet another example of how the Japanese people went out of their way to show us a truly unforgettable time.

The kindergarten building was on Andy's must-see list and thank goodness as it was an absolute highlight of our trip.  The kindergarten building was designed by Tezuka Architects and was completed in 2007 however it was a surprise to find this new treehouse structure.  It houses the classrooms for English classes.  It was a magical experience walking up the cork steps, around the tree, stepping over and under the branches and climbing ladders to the top level.  It really brings out the kid in you and for me it was memories of the Magic Faraway Tree so I could only imagine how this must bring out the imagination for the kids.  Such an inspiring work of architecture.  My local kindergarten sure does not look anything like this! 
The kindergarten is a halo shaped building with a rooftop area and an inner courtyard which accommodates 500 children.  Three trees puncture through the building with nets on the rooftop so the kids can say hi to their little friends below, they love it. The interior of the building is devoid of any walls with furniture softly partitioning the classrooms.  Each classroom has a skylight to let sunlight in and they can be opened for access to the rooftop by ladders.
 Hello there!  Will you fit in my suitcase I want to take you home you are so cute!
Everything has been designed at the children's scale with the ceilings only 2.1m high.  Something I noticed is that there is no play equipment except for the slide.  Very different to the kindergartens we have in Australia where they are filled with bright plastic play equipment, sandpits and things.  Perhaps the environment with it's trees, skylights and rooftop engages the kid's imagination to play.  And they have ponies - too cute!

We absolutely wanted to make a space without dead ends, but as we were obstructed by three large zelkova trees, it just couldn’t become circular. Riding the train on the Chuo Line one day, we suddenly drew an oval that avoided the trees, and seeing how much better it was, we used it unchanged as the shape. Voices of concern were raised by the team with regard to building while preserving the large trees, all three of them inside the building, but they were overcome by the allure of a space without dead ends. 
Photos by Andrea Moore and Lauren Macer

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Grates

During my weekend morning ritual of watching Rage, I saw this latest video by The Grates and I thought it was kind of cool and artistic so I thought you might like it too.  It's quite different from the colourful costumes and bodysuits from their previous stuff, it's definitely more grown-up and and they have quite serious faces.

I love the styling of the video, the black and white '60s look, it's kind of dark and surreal and the editing is dynamic with the music.  Patience looks gorgeous and I love her hair and outfits.  If it looks a little familiar, it references Alphaville by Jean-Luc Godard.  The Grates recorded their latest album Secret Rituals in New York so that might explain the more sophisticated direction. I've been hearing it on the radio and this song has totally grown on me.

Says the director Dimitri Basil of the clip: "The main concept was to make a video reminiscent of Goddard’s Alpha Ville. After meeting the band and brainstorming ideas, the concept transformed into this dark and playful video of elusive imagery that hints towards the album’s name Secret Rituals. I thought that putting all these absurd metaphysical elements and esoteric rituals ending with a vortex will give some sort of conclusion to the series of bizarre spells John and Patience summon on the clip, but then again it could all simply be healthy randomness."



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