kirra jamison

i love smith street (the city end)

You know, I used to live off Smith Street, on Otter Street (the main drag between the housing commission high rise on Wellington Street and Safeway).  20 years ago it wasn’t the most salubrious of neighbourhoods.

If we didn’t have people kicking our door in (really, we came home and the front door was on the floor) and robbing our house while we were asleep (we did leave the back door open on a hot night), or stealing furniture off the porch, and strangers climbing over the fence to fill plastic bags with the plums from the tree in our backyard when we weren’t home, it would have been ace.  Actually it was ace – despite all this.  Who doesn’t have fun hanging with their friends in their first student house?

Back then Smith Street already had the great asian bakery opposite Safeway, the galleries down the city end, the dodgy chicken shop (we could just afford the Tuesday 1/4 chicken and chips deal on our Austudy allowance), the organic shop, Jonathan’s (the flash butchers) and a nice selection of op shops and $2 shops catering to our meagre budgets.  And just as we left the scene started to change – Gluttony opened. Wow, a cool cafe. Maybe it would become the new Brunswick Street?

Yesterday I parked in the Safeway carpark and took a stroll down to the city end and back.  On my way to The Design Files Open House (on this weekend). I haven’t done this for a while – walked down this end of Smith Street in the day.  And it made me so happy.  You know, there have been changes (I notice a few op shops missing and some major building works going on) but the vibe is still the same.  Here were the best bits (for me anyway) …

Of the Open House …

1.  I was super excited to see these impressive hung planters made out of …. twigs and twine just like my star.  A bit more tying involved here I think, but still.  It made me feel a little bit like I knew what was going on – you know?


2. Seeing Kirra Jamison’s work in real life.  I can see why Lucy (Design Files) is always pointing it out in houses.  It is quite something in the flesh.


3.  These chopping boards – really and truly, ever since I made salad servers I have been envisaging ‘dipped’ chopping boards.  Treehorn Design beat me to it … but it was a good idea huh?  And truth be known I would have made, like two, and then moved on to the next project.  They look cool as.


4. And I am very glad I made my own terrarium (thanks Wendy) – terariums are clearly the go and everyone should have one in 2014!

5. These bats.  Love a bit or recycled art. I took photos of some like this at Melbourne Art Fair this year … I wonder if these are by the same person?  These ones have a bit more on them, so maybe not?  I forgot to look who the artist was.

6. Works by Elizabeth Barnett (she was one of the feature artists at Art4All this year).


And then, I walked along Smith Street and found ….

1.  A sign calling to me … And I went inside and found this paper.  Love it.

2. And then this sign … which I love in itself.  Oh blue, blue, blue ….  And check out the tiled counter inside Storm In A Tea Cup. If only I hadn’t just finished a coffee…



3. Port Jackson Press – so many great works – Kyoko, Damon, Rona, Martin, Dean.  I could have bought everthing there.  I might go back for a little something for Clive for Christmas.

4. A book/art/design/homewares shop (super combo) back up near Otter Street. Called Happy Valley.  I just want to point out that I got my $85 grey cross Pony Rider cushion at the Brunswick Brotherhood for $3.  And bugger, I left the acidic yellow one there (what was I thinking). And, also, what do you think … I might need some copper spray paint ASAP.



I found two planters like this in hard rubbish. Don’t they look good in copper.

5.  And finally, I popped in to Tanner and Teague and saw this advent calendar.  Which the lady in the shop told me they made as part of a workshop event they held upstairs a couple of weeks ago.  Hmm.  I’d like to go to a workshop and come away having made something like this.


And I ate delicious rice paper rolls as I walked along (from my old haunt the asian bakery).  And had a great Seven Seeds coffee and a chat with the barrista at the open house (nice). And got back to my car in the Safeway carpark within the allotted 1.5 hours (the City of Yarra parking inspector had marked my tyres – so lucky I believed the sign about car parking limits being enforced).

Maybe you should take a stroll there too.  The Design Files Open House at 12 Smith Street is open til Sunday from 10am to 5pm.