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Folk Architects transform the historic Collingwood shop for Melbourne Design Week exhibition space

Folk Architects are working in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria, Piccolina Gelateria and Hub Furniture to transform the historic Watchmaker shop in Smith Street, Collingwood, into a major exhibition space as part of Melbourne Design Week which opens today. We have the first images of the finished result.


Photo Credit: Tobias Titz


The satellite venue will host 7 significant exhibitions: The Found Object, curated by Jaci Foti-Lowe, Hub Furniture; Ovoid, by Nick Horan; Untitled, by Coco and Maximilian commissioned by Piccolina Gelateria;‘26 Original Fakes’, by Friends and Associates; Undervalued’, by Nick Rennie; ‘Apparatus 4’ by 227768C; and The Watchmaker, site specific installation space by Folk Architects.

Folk Architect director, Christie Petsinis, says a key feature of the design is a freestanding installation that highlights the existing condition of the site, revealing elements of its past as a pawn shop, jewelry store and ‘watchmaker’.

Photo Credit: Peter Bennetts

Finished installation. Photo Credit: Peter Bennetts


“The ‘Watchmaker’ site in itself is a record of time.  The rawness of the existing site exposes the transformations the building has endured and the lasting markings left by its former occupants" Christie says.

She continues:

The exhibition design seeks to bridge preservation of the existing fabric with interventions that can isolate and emphasise the works on display while capturing the spirit of time they embody.

"An important aspect of the building is the glass and mirrored vestibule that marks the entrance from Smith Street.  With the original neon ‘Watchmaker’ sign hovering above, we are creating a transitional space with mirrors which reflects your image infinitely. This passage has a transformative effect exaggerating the contrast between Smith Street and the stillness of the site beyond.

Photography by Tobias Titz

Work in progress. Photo Credit: Tobias Titz


As an architectural device, the mirrored surfaces are used to dissolve the physical boundaries of the space, reinforcing focus on elements of the existing building, and on the exhibition. Used to manipulate and distort our experience of time and space, mirrors also act as a way-finding device."

The exhibition space, which has been provided by Piccolina Gelateria, will also feature a temporary gelato stand before the space is transformed into their flagship store.

Laminex is supporting the project with the donation of Laminex Metaline, an aluminium-based mirror-surfaced wall lining solution, which is just part of the company’s commitment to supporting Australian design.


Photography by Tobias Titz

Work in progress. Photo Credit: Tobias Titz

Finished installation. Photo Credit Peter Bennetts

Finished installation. Photo Credit: Peter Bennetts


The inaugural Melbourne Design Week will explore the value of good design and showcase local and international innovators in a city-wide program, from 16 – 26 March 2017.



Watchmaker, 296 Smith Street, Collingwood, is open from 16 -26 March 2017, weekdays 1pm to 7pm and weekends 10am to 6pm and features the following exhibitions:

The Found Objectcurated by Jaci Foti-Lowe, Hub Furniture and features works by Anna Varendorff, Euan Heng, Jaci Foti-Lowe, John Wardle, Simon Perry, Simon Lloyd, Stephanie Stamatis and Trevor Mein.

Ovoid, by Nick Horan

Untitledby Coco and Maximilian commissioned by Piccolina

26 Original Fakespresented by Friends and Associates

Undervaluedby Nick Rennie

Apparatus 4, by 227768c

The Watchmaker, site specific installation space by Folk Architects






About Melbourne Design Week:

Melbourne Design Week is an annual design program linking creativity with business and community.

Each year the program will explore the value of good design in a ten-day, city-wide celebration offering talks by leading designers, tours, workshops and industry events at NGV and partner venues throughout Melbourne.

Melbourne Design Week is part of a Victorian Government strategy to strengthen, support and promote the state’s design industry.

The theme for 2017 is Design Values. It asks: what does design value and how do we value design?


About Folk Architects:

Folk Architects is an award winning Melbourne-based architecture practice with a reputation for high quality, user centered design projects driven by participation and engagement with community and project team.

Folk Architects’ designs are about people and experiences. We activate spaces by integrating art, design, science and technology in a way that is collaborative, innovative, and pragmatic yet playful.

Our approach is to engage with people in a site specific and shared design process that explores the possibilities of architecture and how it can contribute to and enhance our everyday.

      • IMG_6783_Photo_Tobias_Titz_Watchmaker_
      • IMG_6737_Photo_Tobias_Titz_Watchmaker_
      • IMG_6710_Photo_Tobias_Titz_Watchmaker_
      • 170312 Smith Street 0169_photo Peter Bennetts
      • 170312 Smith Street 0086_photo Peter Bennetts


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