Design Project of the Month: July 2018


Turning food, culture and peer pressure into my next creative project. 

It's 10PM on a Tuesday and I'm exhausted from being out all day running errands. The only thing that was worth contributing to my Instagram story today was a picture I took of the buns I had during lunch with some friends. It wasn't much but I decided to spice the picture up with some good ol' fashion text wall. 

10:05PM - I get a notification from a couple friends who recently saw my post and desperately had to express their craving for the soft, warm buns. One person even said 'I'd t-shirt that.'.

"I'd t-shirt that."

Immediately, the neurons in my brain fire at a million kilometres and hour (yes, we use the metric system here in Australia), connecting the dots between my tote bag idea I've had sitting dormant in my 'Ideas Box' and this newfound creative direction. Without a hesitation, I jump out of the couch and bust open my Illustrator and Wacom (quietly collecting dust in the corner of my room.) and get straight to work. 

It was interesting to explore how such a cultural staple in the Chinese diet has become such an iconic go-to comfort food for so many across the world. With so many different types of filling and ways to prepare it I guess one could have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 

After a few minutes of fiddling around with the brush tool and getting the highlights of the image out, this became the final product:


Update #1: It's Here! (13-08-2018)

After 12 days of patiently waiting, wondering it it was going to be the quality I expected (like the image above) or something that resembled two bits of rag stuck together by some sticky material, here we are! 

The final product is actually pretty amazing (kudos to the peeps over at The Print Bar - search them up), with a decent strap length so you don't struggle when you're shoulder-hooking a bag full of groceries. The width is actually perfect for my MacBook Pro 15" and sits comfortably in there without alot of wigglin' around. The print doesn't seem to fade so that's pretty awesome! 

The packaging was a struggle that I didn't think of earlier and had to improvise on the spot - I wasn't expecting 15 orders in the first 24 hours of promoting them. I looked over at the Market Lane box that came with my monthly dose of beans and realised that all was needed was a simple A4 piece of paper and some fancy graphics on it (lo and behold, top right). Took a few times origami-testing the best way to fold the bag but eventually settled on having it show my amazing (pffffttt...) work. 

Then came the other factor I failed to consider - shipping. As most of the people I know are in Melbourne, it was reasonable to assume that having to ship things overseas wasn't going to be a problem. 

unfortunately, I was wrong. 

I didn't have enough time to order a nice, neat set of cardboard boxes (wouldn't have been financially feasible anyways considering my cheap-ass) so I spent the whole Sunday afternoon cutting up the shipping box the bags came in into four, cute little containers that JUST fit the bag (less weight = cheaper shipping!). 

Update #2: Selling Out - In The Good Way (17-08-2018)

Woohoo! Turns out people really do like "baos". I guess it was exciting knowing that people like what I do and also are willing to support my creative ventures (I actually have such amazing friends <3 ), but now as I order my next batch of bags it becomes more important to consider how I can sell this to the wider market. I went on an online "open an account" spree and now have set up an eBay, Etsy store and online store so I can experiment and see what works (and what doesn't). Watch this space!

Matthew Kwong