Sunday 14 May 2017

Suitcase Rummage: the vintage, handmade & uniquely secondhand

For a few times a year, a unique market place consists of vendors from all walks of life is formed at the Atrium of Federation Square. Smiling sellers carrying suitcases of all designs to the pre-arranged venue: vintage portmanteau, classic Samsonite, giant hard-shell travel luggage, iconic wheelie bags, and leather trimmed canvas trolley. When the right moment arrives, the bags are unzipped, revealing treasures and junks of all sorts.

It is a surprise party. People rummage, reach out, touch and feel the myriad of items. Second-hand clothes chaotically jumbled up in large packing spaces, inviting the general public to have a glimpse and start a bargain or a swap. Art pieces and creative handcrafts displayed beautifully, dainty hand-made jewelleries exhibited lovingly, bringing smiles to the true Zakka lovers. Unwanted branded shoes and expensive-looking camera bags spread haphazardly across the picnic rugs. Attractive price tags of $10 and $5 popping up everywhere, albeit sometimes, a good negotiation skill might get you an even better bargain for some true gems of love. 

With just $25, you can hold a stall and join in the fun as a vendor. Here, we met Taiwanese holiday visa workers trying to get rid of extra personal properties prior to a long trip home, a new mother whose baby has just outgrown those cute rompers and crocheted baby shoes, some trendy youngsters selling away their out-of-fashion accessories, and serious collectors of cultural clothes and other bric-a-brac.   

Our harvest of the day: a bright red Crumpler bag for $10 and a Korean designed wool outwear for $2.50. We left as two happy customers.

Entrance: Free of charge
Where: The Atrium, Federation Square  

Sunday 7 May 2017

Melbourne University South Lawn Car Park – purely magical

Affectionately known as the “Mad Max car park”, this is a hidden gem possesses extraordinary features and a magical atmosphere, an amazing site still unknown by many. Silently tucked away beneath the landscape of the university’s garden, the South Lawn Car Park is more than just an ordinary, everyday parking space. This is the first underground car park in Australia, and a paragon of design that successfully integrated functionality and aesthetic value into an unexpected location.  

A pair of formidable looking sculpted figures guarded the inconspicuous entrance devoutly. Forearms lifted and heads slightly bending forward, the two life-sized Atlantes loomed menacingly over any visitors intend to proceed beyond the seemingly unending darkness. Once placed at the entrance of the now demolished Colonial Bank of Australasia, the neoclassical sculptures are remnants of history from the old Victorian era, and now a protected heritage by the National Trust.

The car park is well recognized by its numerous iconic mushroom-like short columns, cleverly designed and constructed by a galaxy of ingenious minds. The parabolic structures produce increased soil capacity giving room to the tree roots extended from above, yet at the same time, serve as a reinforced support for the roof of the car park.

The innovative design created a futuristic setting for the action-packed, Mel Gibson's film “Mad Max”. Myer discovered the place as a perfect and enigmatic venue for its recent black-tie dinner and fashion parade; the all-time favourite reality cooking show Masterchef used it as a backdrop for a dessert challenge.

The South Lawn Car Park is an imaginative space with limitless possibilities and a character impossible to be defined.

Year built: 1972
Location: Melbourne University, Parkville
Designer: Jan van der Molen