Independent art and design festival Finders Keepers is back for another season. The twice-yearly fair is a calendar staple for those on the hunt for unique, quality wares. Plus, there's an added bonus: the market supports local and emerging artists. This year, the Melbourne event will run from Friday, July 13 to Sunday, July 15, and oh boy, is the lineup looking good.
The trading hours this year have been extended to give you maximum shopping time, with things kicking off at midday on Friday, so you'll be able to set aside a good chunk of time to forage for artsy finds for yourself or a loved one.
With 265 vendors planning to set up shop in The Royal Exhibition Building, we wouldn't blame you for getting overwhelmed by all the choices. Rather than letting you walk around aimlessly, we have narrowed down the list to give you our top five favourite stalls. Make a beeline to these vendors to discover a bevy of bold, quirky and, in one case, tasty finds. And then you're free to explore the rest — truthfully, they're all stellar.
TOP-NOTCH CERAMICS: ARCADIA SCOTT
Reusable travel cups are all the rage nowadays. They're much better for the environment, a lot of cafes offer a discount on your morning cuppa if you use one, and they just look so much better than a plain disposable cup — it's a win, win, win. If you're yet to jump on the bandwagon, or you just want to upgrade to something more aesthetically pleasing, stop by Arcadia Scott's stall. The self-taught potter creates a range of ceramic pieces in her Brunswick studio including bowls, vases and adorable glazed travel cups. Each item is handmade, giving your purchase a unique edge — which is exactly why you came to an independent art fair, right?
QUIRKY CANDLES: YOU, ME & BONES
Sure, candles in glass or ceramic jars are nice. But if your aesthetic is a little more left-of-centre, this stall is sure to catch your eye. You, Me & Bones is all about hand-poured wax products that will either make you giggle or squirm, depending on what side of squeamish you're on. Launched with a range of doll heads, the quirky candle line has now branched out to include brains, boobs and even sushi candles. They certainly make for unique gifts, and you'll be supporting a Melbourne-born operation, too.
WEARABLE TEXTILES: WOLF & MISHKA
When Melbourne-based designer Natalia Pye first launched Wolf & Mishka, a collection of clothing, homewares and ceramics, she drew inspiration from a family heirloom: a Russian nursery rhyme book. It's a sweet anecdote that has translated into a commendable brand ethos — an emphasis on quality over quantity in an effort to reduce overproduction and create unique pieces that are treasured for years. Stop by this stall to discover printed dresses, soft knitwear and stoneware clay jewellery and decor.
Given the monumental size of the markets, you best believe you're going to need fuel in the tank to make it through everything. Our recommendation is to get a caffeine-hit from Seven Seeds when you first arrive, and then, when the real hunger pangs start, head to Pachamanca. Named after the traditional Andean cooking method, this food stall serves up authentic Peruvian snack-style food. There are ceviche tacos with sweet potato and seasoned tiger's milk, crispy chicken wings and Coco Pop chicken — bite-sized chicken pieces cooked in Peruvian cocoa. The perfect mid-shop pit-stop.
FOR YOUR BEST PAL: NICE DIGS
If you're of the belief that your dog is as just as much of a family member as you are, make sure that this one is on your hit list. Nice Digs specialises in handcrafted lifestyle products for your canine companion. There's slick leather collars and patterned bandanas if you want to make your furry pal the most stylish pup in the park. And, if his or her domain is less 'doghouse' and more 'puppy palace', there are even bougie velvet dog beds. Every piece is designed and locally made in Nice Digs' Melbourne studio. Plus, everything is super durable, in case your pooch is still in those naughty puppy years.
For more information about the Melbourne Autumn/Winter Finders Keepers market and for the full list of vendors, head to the website.