Mixed Goods is the brainchild of Andrew Carvolth and Dean Toepfer, the Adelaide space is vast with 600 square meters of indoor and about 400-square-metres of outdoor areas for creativity. Taking on the lease in late 2020, as a shared concern, Carvolth and Toepfer started with an initial pool of design colleagues.
“When we first started this space, we had a few friends that were looking for space as well. So that worked out. Since then we’ve had people come and go. Come in for six months to a year then leave to build their own home studios or their own spaces,” says Toepfer, with Carvolth adding, “Fundamentally, Mixed Goods is an industrial warehouse that we took on the commercial lease for, but established as a diverse and shared co-working space. We fitted it all out so that it could accommodate other designer makers, craftspeople, as well as be a home for our own studio spaces.”
With time, they have expanded their group with Instagram callouts to the greater South Australia art and design community. The result is an eclectic mix of artisans working across furniture, jewellery, ceramics, glass and so forth. Key to this mix is an innate understanding of the materials and specific needs of potential studio mates. On University graduation, both went into the associate training program at the JamFactory.
Subsequently, Toepfer took on the role as a product developer at JamFactory with Carvolth as head of the furniture studio. “We’re intimately aware and across a lot of different crafts and materials. Having a conversation with a ceramicist or metal fabricator, or a glass artist, we try and flesh that stuff out [material needs] pretty quickly. And there are some things that just wouldn’t work in this space. We have those conversations straight up. But the space really does lend itself to all kinds of practice. It has an industrial energy and a scale to it that allows for most things like kilns to be blaring and a wood workshop to be humming, and fabrication and welding and stuff like that,” says Carvolth.
This also speaks to the mix of practitioners with no imposed level of expertise other than being people making their work as a main concern. “We want people that are either emerging or mid-career, and we want people whose practice is their main focus. We want people who are really pushing their practice, as compared to people tinkering on weekends,” says Toepfer.
As such, the current studios involved: Danielle Barrie, Sam Gold, Daniel Emma, Liam Fleming, Andrew Carvolth, Dean Toepfer and Thomas Carvolth are for a large part names familiar to the design community.
The heightened level of expertise affords the whole a sharp learning curve, with practices leading by example and collaborating across different skill sets. “With the work, the majority is self-driven, self-led individual practices in the space. We have all our individual tenants making work for solo exhibitions, group shows, commissions, sales, wholesale accounts, direct sales, and for all that it’s very individually driven. But then, depending on the job, sometimes we team up. Andrew and I team up and do commissions together and then we’ll get Thomas Carvolth, a metal fabricator, he’ll help out on some things. We’ve had ceramicists doing commissions with a need for certain elements made by us or other people, so there is that collaborative effort as well,” says Toepfer.
With big plans for the space, there has been one exhibition so far and plenty more to come, including a joint exhibition of Carvolth and Toepfer’s work. Workshops and open studios to date have been facilitated by studios independently, and while this will continue as more suited to some than all practices, there are plans for expanding open access to public workshops.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas that we want to implement, but obviously, time, covering overheads, all those things take precedence. So sometimes we’re a little bit time-poor,” says Carvolth.
One of the ideas that is taking shape is collaborating with other design studios: “We’ve had some very early conversations around that. It’s something that we really want to put into fruition come next year,” says Toepfer, with both keen to implement residencies, workshops and scholarship programs.
“We’re in the very early stage of speaking to some universities about the potential of doing a scholarship, where people can come out to our space after Uni, or in their last semester or last year, to see what it takes, you just need a few key people to get a space together. Hopefully, we can pass on some of that knowledge and some of that motivation as well,” says Toepfer. Carvolth adds, “That’s really where it all stemmed from – Dean and I were looking to establish a physical workshop and studio independently, but wanting to carry forward a sense of community and create a space that expands that sense of community locally by accommodating more people than just ourselves.”
There is a crusading type of passion fuelling these creatives that is hard not to be impressed by. Socially aware, community-minded, collaborative and committed to sharing information and expertise. The share studio has long been around, but financial weight sharing has generally been the goal. Here, there is something more profound and powerful at play, and it is a delight to see their early successes propelling them into a shared co-op future.
Location – Kaurna Country / Kilkenny, Adelaide
Photography – courtesy Mixed Goods
Furniture and lighting designer Dean Toepfer is committed to producing quality and functional designs with an emphasis on detail and character. His interests lie in the exploration of material, shape, and form, seeing how each can interact and coincide. Delivering a bold aesthetic both alluring and practical, Dean has developed his practice into a multi-faceted design studio driven by the interrelationship between material, tool, and process. With a studio based out of Mixed Goods Studios, his projects range from furniture and lighting to object and exhibition design.
A highly regarded craftsman and designer based in Adelaide, on graduation from the ANU School of Art (Design-Arts Hons) Carvolth established his design practice creating speculative exhibition work, commissions and edition objects.
Defined by a reappropriation of traditional making processes and associated materials, primarily timber, which attempts to capture a uniquely Australian vernacular, Carvolth’s practice eclectically explores craft and design practices including furniture making, tool/instrument making, lighting design, conservation and curatorial projects. From this melting pot of influences, a unique perspective and understanding informs his approach to design.
We think you might be interested to read about fellow studio buddies, Daniel Emma.