Though the idea of an independent handmade craft market might conjure images of crocheted yoga mats and teapots made of upcycled cutlery, The Big Design Market is about as far removed from folksy as you could imagine it to be.

Born in 2012 out of a need for designers to be able to create and sell their work through an outlet other than bricks-and-mortar boutiques or impersonal online marketplaces, the Big Design Market, which is now in its seventh year and attracts at-capacity crowds, turned out to be exactly what the industry and its fans had been calling out for. The annual Melbourne instalment at the Royal Exhibition Building regularly pulls crowds nearing 60,000 across three days, and Sydney’s market, now in its third year, brings in crowds of well-over 20,000 across one weekend to the Royal Hall of Industries. The event is also capable of generating millions of dollars in sales for its over 200 independent designers, many of whom front their own stalls and provide discerning shoppers with a level of interaction that’s missing from traditional retail experiences, both online and off.

Since its earliest inception as MarkIt@FedSquare, an illustration-based market that began by featuring 30 designers in Federation Square eight years ago, the Big Design Market has evolved into a forum for designers to present new season offerings that exist at the intersection of excellent design, cutting-edge innovation and eco-conscious practices. This year’s market, which takes ‘sustainability’ as its curatorial theme, includes newcomers from around Australia and the world. Above, Big Design Market director Simon Obarzanek shares with GRAZIA his insights into this year’s freshman class, which includes vibrant ready-to-wear from Kenya, Indigenous beauty products sourced from the heart of the Australian bush and artisanal crafts direct from Kyoto.

The Big Design Market takes place from November 30 until December 2 in Melbourne at the Royal Exhibition Building and from December 7-9 at the Royal Hall of Industries, Sydney. More information is available here.

Tile image: Collective Closets/Courtesy of the Big Design Market
Cover image: Nelson Made/Courtesy of the Big Design Market