Strength in Numbers: The Compound Interest
A Four and Sons collaboration

A brand new collaboration between MrBlanc and the worlds greatest dog culture website Four and The very talented Marta Roca and Myself spent an afternoon visiting the men of  The Compound Interest , including The Jacky Winter group, and Chase and Galley to bring you a story on four legs. Please clean up after your dog and enjoy another MrBlanc collaboration -gifted at you with love.

Words: Marta Rocca
Photographs: Cory White

Although The Compound Interest: Centre for The Applied Arts sounds like a serious name, it was actually born as a tongue-in-cheek way to describe a group of businesses coming together and supporting each other. The name made me think of the Bauhaus, of people who believe in the arts filtering down to everyday life, of strength in numbers. Which is not far from reality.

Home to a mix of creative types, the warehouse sits in a Collingwood back street (for readers beyond Melbourne, think Lower East Side, Shoreditch o El Raval). Two galleries that double as event spaces, an artist management agency, multiple web and print design studios, a crafty framer, a photographer, a letterpress printer and even a guy that restores classic vintage motorcycles fill the generous 1,000 square metre space.

The Compound Interest also doubles up as the playpen for the three resident dogs: Levi, Billie and Alfie (Jeremy Wortsman, Kelly Thompson and Tristan Main’s buddies respectively). Levi is a Italian Greyhound with more attitude than body weight (legend says Levi takes on Great Danes down at the park). Billie is a crafty young and restless Beagle that will get away with murder. Alfie, a French Bulldog, is the latest addition to the pack. Alfie spends most of the time hanging out doing his thing and looking slightly amused.

Hanging out at The Compound I wonder about the romantic notion of working in a warehouse with like-minded people, sharing projects, feeding off each other. Do collaborations really happen? Jeremy, the multi-tasking, multi-faceted director of the Jacky Winter Group, confirms: “Definitely. That said, it’s mostly indirect, but that has always been our collective intention in terms of cross pollination, ie. someone might come to a gallery opening for Pin-Up, and buy something from Lamington Drive. They may then get something framed by United Measures, and then decide to get a motorcycle from Christian (from Modern Motor Cycle Company). A meeting might happen with the designers upstairs, and a Jacky Winter commission. There’s a lot of serendipity occurring on a regular basis.” Tristan, from design studio Chase and Galley, adds “We’re always talking typefaces, recommending suppliers and spreading the good word about the nice people we all know.”

We talk to the guys about typesetting, Levi and Billie’s complicated love affair and the artist who got away.

Tristan on Alfie’s ways

We’ve recently started referring to him as the big ‘A’ around the house, he can be quite the boss dog. As for special skills, he likes catching and eating wasps, he does this funny commando crawl whenever he is on grass and his Wookie call is a definite party favourite.

Jeremy on Levi’s quirks

Where to start… I think his leg crossing is definitely a big crowd pleaser. Levi is generally just a 4 kilo quirk really though!

Tristan on a The Compound’s appeal

Probably the great mix of complimentary businesses and tools of production all in the one place. And the dogs of course! Being able to bring Alfie to the Compound for hang-times with Levi and Billie is a massive bonus.

Jeremy on The Compound’s best kept secret

It currently houses the only known baseball batting cage/driving range in the northern suburbs. By appointment only.

Jeremy on the one that got away…

In the early Jacky Winter days I signed up Laith McGregor after his VCA graduation show, but it only lasted about 48 hours as he was wise enough to steer his work onto a fine art path, where he has enjoyed some pretty significant successes. It‘s been amazing to follow his career since then – what an amazing talent.

Tristan on Chase&Galley’s approach

For me it started with an interest in the ‘critical’ design that a lot of overseas practices undertake which typically sees graphic design branch out into other fields of inquiry, that was really fresh for me at university. A lot of the programmatic and systems stuff seemed like a whole other way of getting at something that I hadn’t considered before. Eventually though, its kind of all about the content and how best to try and get it to sing.

Jeremy on Levi and Billie’s relationship

It’s complicated! Though probably more healthy than most human relationships I know. They pretty much just run around after eachother all day, try to eat plants, play tug of war with stolen coffee cups, and then get tuckered out by the afternoon, eventuating in Levi literally sleeping on top of her. Sometimes they spoon, which is just too downright adorable.

Jeremy on Jacky Winter

Everyone who works here has the most amazing hair ever. Most people describe coming into the office like walking into a Vidal Sassoon commercial.

Tristan on the art of typesetting

As long as type is around there will be a need for typesetting. With the whole movement towards books and print publishing becoming more specialised and specialty, a need for good typesetting and a respect of text and type is still completely relevant and necessary. The mini boom of smaller type foundries recently has produced some interesting faces that throw up new challenges in setting and application… the pool just seems to get bigger and more varied and that’s pretty exciting.

Stones or Beatles?

Jeremy: Morrissey.
Tristan: Stones (Alfie would agree).

The Compound Interest Centre for The Applied Arts

Comprising A Small Press, Chase & Galley, The Golden Grouse, Idlewild Press, The Jacky Winter Group, Lamington Drive, Modern Motor Cycle Company, People Collective, New Blank Document, Pinup Project Space, Special Photographic Studios, Studio Propeller, Something Together, United Measures.

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