There is a short ‘coming out of the Tardas’ moment as you hop off the train at Malvern. A little time-warp of disorientation. Has the train set you down in a retrofit future or have you reverted to a futuristic past?
Melbourne Vintage Speakers is perfectly housed in the jewel-like Royal Exchange and Assurance Building. Built in 1856, the shop originally housed the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society which started to rake in premiums as the anxieties of loss of fortune through theft, fire and accident gripped the newly affluent colony. The insurance business also became part of the building boom in Melbourne with this shop an early showcase of the wealth to come.
The crafted lead-light coping and warm copper window frames of the 1850s building, which survives almost completely intact, make the perfect encasing for the imaginative wares of a pair of new-age tinkers.
The lads, who established the business in 2011, create their speaker boxes – ‘V-cases – from are range of handy objects including school bags, bowls cases, sewing machine cases, projector cases and more. The beautifully recycled materials are given a steam punk-like makeover to live again as portable high technology.
Some objects are a fascinating play on your perceptions – are they a lost technology from an early industrial age or a newly crafted work of brilliance?
Dagel Fogel, who writes about such philosophical matters, says steam punk is hard to pin down but describes it loosely as an anti-consumerist “punk” self-sufficiency bent. So it’s nice to find this shop in the heart of commercial, consumerist Malvern.
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