Façades Promenade: Orenda Chats with Soymilk Studio

As a way to celebrate and capture memories of their current living area (Collingwood / Fitzroy), Soymilk Studio developed a series of Instagram videos, inspired by their local cafes and restaurants scene.

Focusing on the beautiful and eclectic façades, they produced micro-narrative animations, with an intent to feel fun, familiar and federative to the local community and beyond. 

On the eve before their one-night-only exhibition, Portia Sarris of Orenda Magazine sits down with Jenni and Paul of Soymilk Studio.

 Behind the Scenes: Piccolina

Behind the Scenes: Piccolina

Orenda Magazine: Where did the idea for Façades Promenade begin?

Jenni: I think the idea came from when we’d just moved from Brisbane and [Melbourne] was so different in terms of…everything. I don’t know if you know Brisbane, but [Melbourne] was almost a new country for us and I think we were impressed and amazed by all the cafés offered and the atmosphere. We didn’t know about Collingwood and Fitzroy before, we didn’t know it was all happening here. And lucky us, we discovered everything: all the food scene, and also our love for architecture. I think it helped a lot in imagining this idea of crafting and keeping memories of the façades of these lovely cafés that we went into, and also the outside face of those cafés. The idea came from this to create memories for our future as well and a souvenir book at the beginning and it went from there. Also, with our business of creating videos combining our skills, cause I’m more into handcrafting, creating models, designing products and Paul is more about digital & digital animation and that was a good way to combine our skills.

Paul: Each one of those shops is very different. It’s that nature of having seven different shop fronts in the area: they’re all quite unique and they have their own special things. We wanted to capture that and almost create a virtual guide: [take] the things that we liked the most and then just share it [with] people who like the same things or have the same interests.

Orenda Magazine: I totally agree, it’s like all the façades have their own personalities. It’s not just who’s residing in them at the moment, there’s so much history as to who’s been there before and what’s going to come. I’m like you, where I’m new to Melbourne and I’ve been here about a year and a half now, and it just amazes me how much character it has, especially around Fitzroy and Collingwood.

Jenni: Yeah, it keeps catching your eye constantly. It’s very powerful.

Orenda Magazine: It’s very exciting, like a whole little world.

Paul: Some of the spaces — Lune, for example — you wouldn’t know what was inside by just walking past, so it was the interaction of that…

Jenni: Mystery?

Paul: Yeah, the interaction between what’s actually on the inside and what’s shown on the outside.

Orenda Magazine: I totally agree, again, I walked past Lune Croissant about 20 times before I actually walked in and was like, ‘Oh my god, they’ve been voted #1 croissants in the world, what have I been doing for this past year?!’ which is what I love about it, it’s got an element of surprise.

Jenni: (laughs) Yeah, you can’t expect that, as you say, it’s different personalities — [some are] shy and subtle. It changes from café to café, that it makes your stroll very interesting cause some show off more than others.

 Behind The Scenes: Mile End Bagels

Behind The Scenes: Mile End Bagels

Orenda Magazine: So you had this idea that you wanted to capture — a kind of virtual guide, recording these beautiful façades. You worked with Photographer Jack Younger and Creative Technologist Damien Mortini. How did you go about finding someone to collaborate with?

Paul: Both of them are creative friends. Jack is a really good photographer and, because we mainly do digital animations for Instagram, we thought it would be good to have something more in print. So Jack helped by taking pictures of each model that we’re going to show in the exhibition. They’ll be on postcards and A3 prints and in a higher resolution — more professionally photographed — as opposed to our animations, which are Instagram-sized and are quite small in resolution. It’s just a different output and his approach was really about documenting what was done with the models, but not adding any drastic lighting or anything. It’s just really trying to get the same colours and the same shadows that are present when you look at the model.

And Damien, who is actually just next door in the studio, makes interactive websites with 3D. He’s a genius (laughs). He’s basically making the interactive component of the exhibition, so as you’re going into the space tomorrow, there will be an app and you’ll be able to scan with your phone. With the app, you can take pictures of each model and it’ll bring up the animation of each individual façade, plus all the ‘making of’ pictures and also a Google Map Street View, which will allow you to compare what we’ve done with the real façade and then picture it where they are in Melbourne. So if you don’t know the particular shop front, you can easily look at the surrounding shops, or have a Street View experience and then realise where you are.

 Behind the scenes: Grub

Behind the scenes: Grub

Orenda Magazine: How was it collaborating with four people?

Paul: It’s interesting because the exhibition was more Jack’s idea. We were really focusing on the online component and just making each façade, animating it and sharing it online.

Jenni: Yeah, definitely. [We were] connecting it to our background — just sharing it online — and Jack was really bringing his background of exhibitions

Paul: Yeah, it’s more of a photographer’s approach, but we like it because it sits with what we do because we’re not just purely digital in our style. We have the handmade components, so it’s a great way to show what stop motion is as a medium. It allows you to not only be online but also show the models and the actual tactile elements of it.

The collaboration went really well. It all continued and flowed. They were supplementing the idea, and because they’re our friends, we’ve spoken about concepts from the beginning. They were quite involved as spectators from the beginning, then they became involved and they added their own skills. It was really natural.

Jenni: It became more interesting the more we talked.

Paul: Yeah, they gave ideas that we didn’t think about.

 Behind the Scenes: Trippy Taco

Behind the Scenes: Trippy Taco

Orenda Magazine: How long did this project take from the initial inspiration to the exhibition? Where do you see this going?

Jenni: I think it started right at the beginning when we moved to Melbourne, this idea of keeping memories of the beautiful façades. So it was three years ago, but we didn’t think about any creative projects at the time. [The idea for the creative project] came when we came back from France, in August last year. We started because we could [now] manage passion projects at the same time as other more commercial projects. We had a bit of time to have this kind of creativity, so I started making models last year. The more I was making, the more into it we were, and this idea of series came.

Paul: You had a goal of making one façade every two weeks.
I think also the idea that we had with this project was this concept of putting up the kind of work that you want to attract. One of the goals is using that collaboration and really doing something that we like, showing it, seeing what the response is and seeing if other cafés would be interested in it. We actually had a couple that were interested in having that for their Instagram concept, so it’s a way for us to attract new clients and collaborations.

Orenda Magazine: I just think it’s really great. It’s such a great project — cafés would love that, even as fine art prints. Having an artwork that’s created about that space is very special, so I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with being able to be so diverse in all your platforms, and also in it being marketing and then it can also be fine art. I really love what you’ve done.

Jenni: Awww, thanks so much. [When] it crosses different dimensions I think it makes the whole idea richer, it just makes it a lot more.

Paul: It’s also quite scalable as well. We thought this is just a start, it’s just Fitzroy and Collingwood [for now], but eventually, it’s unlimited. We could do it in other cities, other suburbs.

Façades Promenade is exhibiting FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY: 6–9pm Wednesday 4th of April
at Collingwood Arts Precinct, 35 Johnston St.