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  • Holger Dielenberg

Space Tank catapults Melbourne Makers to Shanghai and London

Due to our involvement at Furnitex this July, five Makers from Space Tank were selected to present their work at the National Chinese Furniture Show in Shanghai and TENT London!

This is a great way to celebrate our first six months of official operation. More importantly, this exposure demonstrates just how valuable a Makerspace ecosystem can be in providing opportunities for emerging Makers. It’s about developing a platform of support and advocacy where many areas of the creative business community and industry can meet and draw mutual benefit from one another.

The opportunity was made possible by Space Tank Studio’s involvement in the Furnitex show at the Royal Exhibition Buildings.

The Australian Furniture Association were looking for examples of bespoke product to be displayed on the world stage and found just what they were looking for with Space Tank members. Australian Makers have a lot to offer in terms of customized, high quality hand made products and they often need the right platform to showcase their talent. This is a marvelous demonstration of how industry organizations can propel Australian talent further than they would get on their own steam.

The transition from a pond to the ocean can be a daunting experience and it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Showcasing your work in front of an international audience can suddenly lead to huge orders at short notice and if you’re not production ready, this can mean not only losing a lucrative client but it can damage your reputation down the track.

The key take home lesson for Space Tank members who were selected to showcase in Shanghai and London has been that you must make a decision about how you present yourself. The choice is to either take orders on a commission basis or have a short run production facility ideally with pre-made elements already underway. Sooner or later, this is a difficult choice that a lot of bespoke makers will face and they each have their pitfalls.

Choose to take commissions and you will enter a drawn out process of communication after the international show ends. This can be complicated by language barriers and if your product takes time to make, the deal can fizzle out. You will also be slugged with freight costs and duty tax for each individual shipment. On the other hand, taking a large international order is tricky to negotiate. You have to have the right contracts prepared and know how to secure upfront deposits. Most orders will be negotiated in the order of shipping container quantities that must be delivered to meet the coming years shopping time frames. With this comes the financial outlay to be production ready and the agility to deliver within a matter of months.

Bespoke makers and emerging designers who want to take this big step must be prepared with appropriate sales contracts, have their logistics sorted, and most importantly you must acquire a cultural understanding of how business is done in the country you are selling your work.

Space Tank Members who represented in Shanghai and London this year were; Holger Dielenberg, Paul van Abel, Aidan Mackinnon, Dan Barker and Will Brubaker.

Huge Thanks to the Australian Furniture Association for their amazing support of Melbourne Makers and for making this opportunity possible.

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