Knowing where, how and who makes your goods (and the stories behind them) is easy at Bowerbird.
In the market for a more meaningful exchange at Bowerbird
If a brand’s values are as important as value, this month’s Bowerbird market at the Adelaide Showground will make your conscious-shopping-heart sing.
17–19 November 2023
See the full list of makers and workshops at the website
You can meet meet the designers, makers and producers behind more than 140 independent, emerging brands from here and interstate. (And perhaps get in some early Christmas shopping.)
Meanwhile, to kick things off, we’ve rounded up a diverse bunch of makers for a chat…
A love for mid-century design led then Sydney-based Robert Viner-Jones on a quest for bold, printed textiles to match.
Realising he wasn’t alone in finding it hard to track down anything suitable, he made an equally bold decision.
“After 25 years, it was time to hop off the designer clothing industry treadmill and retrace my art school days,” says Bob (aka Robert), whose one-person homewares company is probably best known for its vibrant lamp shades and cushions.
All the products are designed, screen printed, cut and stitched by hand by Bob in his studio at The Mill in Adelaide. Some repurpose vintage fabrics, like retro curtains.
For the fabrics he prints himself, he does small print runs, sometimes in a bespoke colour or size as requested by customers. “I produce extra for an event like Bowerbird, but my return customers will often come along with a ‘special’ request,” he says.
Bob Window has been at every Bowerbird since 2013, and he says he’s personally influenced by a maker’s values when on the other side of the transaction.
“Absolutely, my purchases echo my own ethos,” he says, adding one of the joys of exhibiting at Bowerbird is “to be in the company of a remarkable group of artisans”.
“It can be quite humbling and, at the same time, hugely uplifting.”
SWEDE LITTLE THINGS
With her mother born in Sweden’s northern most reaches, Hélène von Schrenk says it was “very natural” for her to get into Sami leathercraft as a side hobby.
Hélène has been handmaking Nordic inspired unisex jewellery and accessories as a side hobby for more than 10 years, but it wasn’t until 2015 that she decided to take it a step further and Swede Little Things was born.
“Sami leatherwork is a craft that the Sami, the Nordic Indigenous population, have been using for centuries,” she explains.
“The spun pewter threads are hand woven and sewn on to the softest reindeer leather, and finished off with either antler buttons or magnetic clasps.”
The buttons are from shed antlers (they drop naturally every year). The reindeer leather is bought from Sami herding communities and is an ecologically-friendly, naturally soft and thin leather, making it ideal for Hélène’s designs.
Noticing the demand for men’s leather accessories is on the rise, the Melbourne-based maker has broadened her range.
“I feel that men are becoming more interested in wearing something that isn’t the traditional type of jewellery, and there aren’t a lot of choices out there,” she says.
“I often hear comments like, ‘I don’t wear jewellery, but I’d wear this.’”
IRINA NAZAROVA ART
Irina Nazarova says even a walk down the street is full of personal discoveries of new trees, flowers, plants and birds.
“Everything is calling out for close examination,” says the Estonian born and raised artist who now calls Adelaide home.
“I am fascinated to walk through the wild Australian bush, manicured and arranged gardens, and even unkempt abandoned plots of land, to discover new plants and flowers.”
Growing up among fields of wildflowers and nearby forests, Irina’s connection to nature is evident in her paintings and drawings.
She also produces jewellery under her other brand, Flowers In Your Hair, carefully capturing dried flowers in resin.
“I dry specimens in an old-fashioned way, placed in folded paper and tucked into a big pile of heavy books and in my handmade flower presses,” she shares.
For this Bowerbird market, Irina is planning to also bring a new series of fine art prints and original paintings, together with calico bags emblazoned with intricate plant sketches and her locally-printed botanical greeting cards.
A fan of the ‘shop small’ ethos, she loves to hear artists’ stories when she is buying for herself or others. “Hearing personal stories makes it extra special.”
LANEWAY BEVERAGE CO.
The five guys behind Laneway Beverage Co. met while working in Adelaide’s small bar scene.
Matt Holding, one of the partners, explains that the driving force behind starting the label was about making great spirits. But it also wasn’t.
“Between us all, when it comes to drinks […] we’ve spent so much time thinking about how things smell, taste, how does it drink, that it got to a point that we felt compelled to give our own product development a go,” Matt says.
“But it was also about mateship and served as a good excuse to catch up outside of our usual workplaces.”
After almost two years working on the recipe and branding – accompanied by plenty of beers and Dorritos along the way – they went live with the first two gins in February this year.
Matt says their flagship gin All Day balances classically styled botanicals with Australian natives.
“We love the symbolism of what we could potentially create and mean to someone,” he says.
“You know, being someone’s favourite or go-to gin for summer, or a reminder of their beach holiday. That’s deeply satisfying.”
The other gin, Full Monte, is a seasonal, wine-based gin using organic Montepulciano grapes from the Barossa. Only 700 bottles were created this time around and Matt says, as far as the team knows, it’s the only commercial Monte gin in the world.
The wax-sealed, old-style, brown glass bottles stand out, with the guys doing everything from bottling to labelling by hand. It’s another reason for them to spend more time together and provides a point of difference in the country’s booming gin industry.
“As consumers, we’re so spoilt for choice, especially in the age of the internet, where we can essentially get whatever we want, when we want,” Matt says.
“But with that in mind, I’m still far more attracted to a brand that displays a sense of sincerity to what they do, operates with a sense of sustainability and has a story. They’re the brands worth supporting.”