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Australia’s favourite design blog sets up shop

Popular Australian design and interiors blog, The Design Files (TDF), kicked off its annual retail pop-up on Thursday, creating the ‘ultimate Australian home’ for four days only.

Built from scratch at the Collingwood Arts Precinct in Melbourne, the TDF Open House includes a master bedroom, child’s bedroom, living and dining space, bar area, custom-designed kitchen and landscaped courtyard.

The space features furniture, bedding, art and home products from over 60 Australian makers, designers and artists, as well as key event sponsors Dulux Australia, Miele, Dan Murphy’s, Sonos and Cult. All items are available for purchase on site.

TDF started holding its annual Open House in 2011, with the aim of creating a physical manifestation of the website, which draws around 140,000 visitors per month.

“I wanted to connect with our readers and do something real and tangible. I wanted it to feel like a physical manifestation of what our website is,” TDF founder Lucy Feagins told Internet Retailing. 

“We feature Australian art, design and homes, so I put that all together and decided that if TDF were a physical space it would be a beautiful Australian home full of artwork and products from Australian makers and designers.”

While some aspects of the event have evolved over the years – the pop-up used to take place within a real Australian home – the concept remains much the same, to create an immersive, inspirational shopping environment.

It’s a concept that has recently gained traction. Hunting for George and The Daily Edited both opened stores that feature a similar ‘shoppable home’ design this year.

While TDF’s retail offering is currently limited to its annual Open House, Feagins said she hopes to start selling products online in 2018.

“We don’t yet sell online. We cover product online and have this pop-up, but I really want to make the transition to having this kind of product for sale on the site as well. Hopefully next year that will happen,” she said.

Speaking at a recent event in Melbourne, Lorna Hall, head of insight at WGSN, pointed to several examples of publications and retailers making lateral shifts into each other’s territory.

For instance, men’s magazine GQ now sells subscription skincare boxes, while the online accommodation site, Airbnb, has started publishing its own magazine.

It’s not only a top-down trend. Feagins said consumers increasingly expect retailers to be publishers and vice versa.

“Ten years ago, you may have gotten some push-back if you were selling something that you were featuring. These days people say, ‘Wow that’s so convenient’,” she said.

“Consumers now are so much more savvy to branded partnerships and integrated content. They understand there’s a second layer to the content they consume.

“I think every retailer needs to be a publisher now and publishing across social media or a blog.”

This year’s Open House will run until Sunday and for the first time will include a series of speaking events from Feagins and a line-up of local makers, stylists and small businesses.

While Feagins conceded that four days is a short pay-off for an event that took three months to construct and nine months to plan, she said there’s a plus-side to the fleeting pop-up.

“A tight window is great because it really gets people hyped. Especially on social media, if you’re promoting something for two weeks, the enthusiasm drops off.”

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