But it does happen to house some of Adelaide's most influential and creative people.
Xpress Service isn’t a creative agency
The loft studio above the Adelaide Christian Centre’s car park on Myers Lane in the city’s south has been a lot of things over the years – a home to Anny Duff’s B Goods label before it transformed into Good Studios, a base for Amy Robert’s Vege Threads business before she moved to Melbourne, and a design space for Naomi Murrell’s eponymous label.
Rear 33 Sturt Street
Adelaide SA 5000
The gold leaf sign on the glass door reads Xpress Service now and – pushing it open – we meet the new inhabitants, a group of businesses that have all spent time away from Adelaide and now returned.
Matiya Marovich, founder of Sans-Arc Studio has designed many of Adelaide’s favourite small bars and bistros from Adelaide before he moved to Melbourne to expand his practice with business partner Sam Cooper.
Tristan Kerr of Uppercase Studio re-ignited Adelaide’s interest in hand-painted signage and letterforms through various art exhibitions and mural works before moving to Melbourne to develop his career.
Zoe Downer was ready to say goodbye to Adelaide forever while living and studying in France, but an offer too good to refuse brought her back to Adelaide where she helped Shaw & Smith build one of the most elegant and recognisable Australian wine brands.
Each business has a single desk in the light-filled studio space and a little bit of storage (including a bag hook by the door) and that’s it.
There’s high-speed internet that Tristan tells us was quite an ordeal to connect “from the node” to the studio, but is now described by Zoe as “really good internet”. Everyone has a chuckle before reiterating that the internet is really, very good here.
The setup at Xpress Service epitomises the future of work – this is the gig economy.
“I think we probably do compete,” says Carlo about Tristan’s work in the graphic design and branding sphere. Carlo and Tristan have both done projects with Sans-Arc Studio; for instance Carlo did Alfred’s and Tristan did Malt & Juniper (two small bars on Peel Street).
“I think we’ve both spoken about the jobs we’ve quoted on,” says Carlo. Tristan nods and adds, “but we’ve both got our focuses, so we don’t feel there’s any problems with us sharing space.”
They mustn’t feel threatened – they literally sit next to each other at Xpress Service.
Zoe is new to the gig economy. Zoe resigned from her role as marketing manager for Shaw & Smith recently and is freelancing back to the winery from her new CBD office under her shiny new business name Counter Space.
“Seven years at Shaw & Smith,” says Zoe about her tenure at the Balhannah-based winery. “It was great and it’s not like I wanted to leave because I did love the work, but my growth was limited in the company and I was at a stage in my career where I had the confidence to seek new challenges and inspiration.”
With two free desks in the office, the four complimentary small business operators say they’re keen to welcome new freelancers or complimentary businesses to their airy abode in the city.
“I think we’d really work well with a web developer, or a videographer,” says Carlo about his dream co-tenant.
“An accountant,” suggests Tristan. Zoe, Matiya and Carlo all nod in furious agreement.
CityMag has long had a growing anxiety about the future of work and the potential for the gig economy to turn into a dog-eat-dog, race-to-the-bottom for wages and quality, but our little trip to Xpress Service has reminded us of our ability as humans to collaborate and look out for one another.
Xpress Service may not operate as a single entity, but it exists with a single purpose – to support small, creative and exceptional businesses in their mission to make this city better for all.