“There’s something that happens when you make things. You go into a zone. It’s almost like you leave everything – all the niggly, everyday stuff – at the door and just go into this amazing, meditative, peaceful space." 

Sometimes the best ideas seem so simple and obvious that you wonder why they haven’t been thought of before. This is certainly the case with the wondrously creative retail phenomenon that is in.cube8r which was envisaged and developed by artist Isy Laderman in 2007.

In Issue 7 of Junkies we take a close look into the creative and wonderful in.cube8r and a few of the artists that make up the truly unique space.

After completing her fine arts degree at Monash majoring in glassblowing, Isy soon became disillusioned with the traditional art gallery methodology, which saw galleries taking large commissions from emerging artists. In response she developed the award-winning in.cube8r model, a unique system of “mini-stores” within one vibrant space in Melbourne’s marvellous grunge-meets-style Smith Street, Fitzroy. Here, a galaxy of artists and craftspeople have creative control over their own “cube”, where they can display their wares for a small weekly fee. As no commission is levied, artists are able to take 100 per cent of their profits as well as retaining artistic control of the manner in which their wares are displayed, thus creating their own micro-store. The model has now morphed from not only cubes but also into wall, rack and shelf spaces, with over 100 artists represented.

In recent times, in.cube8r welcomed new owner Elle-May Michael, who is a passionate advocate for artists and creative folk. Elle-May introduced a new dynamic to in.cube8r by establishing an online store on in.cube8r’s website. However, she is the first to admit that it’s the actual bricks-and-mortar store that captures people’s imagination. Customers respond to the kaleidoscope of colours and textures embodied in the over 5000 unique handcrafted items on display. Being able to see, touch and experience this cornucopia of creativity is inspirational.

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Whilst based on the philosophy of handmade is best-made, in.cube8r is no cottage enterprise, and its success is being recognised by policymakers, businesspeople, consumers and fellow artists. For four successive years, in.cube8r was nominated for New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) Business of the Year Award and also took out the City of Yarra and the Leader newspaper favourite arts and entertainment venue for 2010.

In.cube8r enjoys a huge repeat customer base. People return for every birthday, anniversary and celebration because they want to find unique items that have been made with passion and love. 

“There’s something that happens when you make things”, Elle-May enthuses. “You go into a zone. It’s almost like you leave everything – all the niggly, everyday stuff – at the door and just go into this amazing, meditative, peaceful space. Handmade is something that creatives always come back to and in.cube8r provides the support for that meditation to continue."

“The most important thing of all”, Elle-May notes, “is to make sure that people continue to support handmade. So many really important skills are being lost; all those old traditions which used to be passed down. Thankfully, there’s a bit of a resurgence at the moment, and these great old disciplines of handmade seem to be being appreciated again. Awareness continues to grow about what it means to give a present made with love”.


Read the full story on in.cube8r along with stories from some of the craftspeople that make up the incredible space in Junkies Issue 7.