Forum Fresh

A gentrifying catchment with a diverse cultural profile represented the opportunity for an expanded fresh food offer at Belmont Forum in Perth, WA.  Anchored by an existing Coles and Woolworths, this newly opened precinct now includes fresh local seafood, a second store for an iconic Perth butcher with a cult following for American style BBQ, a large market style Green Grocer, bakery and Asian BBQ speciality, a design make over for an exisiting popular Asian grocer, plus a tiny jewel in the crown provided by La Belle Patisserie which appeared to go into overdrive the minute the first cronuts and croissants were taken out of the oven on opening morning.

Engaged by The Perron Group to create 'welcome statements' and another layer of interest to this new fresh food precinct, POD commissioned beautiful solid oak ladders, pallets and wheelbarrows for the purpose of telling food stories based around this vibrant new retail mix.  The custom visual merchandising combined faux and fresh along with locally sourced vintage props. Wheelbarrows filled with produce 'fresh from the veggie patch' promoted all retailers, added an element of fun for this family focused market, and tied in with the citrus and herb garden in the new outdoor children's playground, located just off the precinct.

Sincere thanks to the Perron development team headed by Graeme Glass, JLL's Alexandra McAuliff and Kate Whytelaw (a human dynamo who made the 6 months of tenancy consultancy and onsite delivery totally seamless - grateful beyond words), Simone Pirovich and her Work Shop Dine team, Dean Jones & Michael Bushby from Vicinity Centres plus all the wonderful retailers who gave us their trust and came on the design and delivery journey to bring this precinct to fruition.

Concepts, creative and delivery by POD.

#belmontforum #freshfoodprecinct #placemaking #visualmerchandising #retaildetail #designlayers #theperrongroup

Belmont Forum Food Perth

Raw and Activated

A small fruit & nut shop with a good story to tell has moved in next to Tea Drop in the South Melbourne Market.  Reclaimed wood, old grape picking baskets and boxes, a sprinkling of worn metal trugs combined with  prices on wood blocks (a big yes to the sign writer) create a simple and effective backdrop for all the goodness in those brown paper bags.

Reflecting the farm where the fruit is grown in northern Victoria, Happy Fruit captures the feel of the drying shed.  I like it!



Making it Happen

Retailing is a complex business with multiple channels for vendors to promote and sell their wares. Dubbed 'The Experience Economy', we now want a hell of  a lot more from a store.  We want to do something, make something, talk to those in the know, have a cup of tea or glass of wine whilst we learn something, be entertained ... and maybe buy something before leaving the shop.

I suspect this relates to the potential social isolation that comes with the digital age combined with housing density, that increasingly sees so many of us living in small apartments, a scenario running parallel to fading memories of a house on a quarter acre block with a hills hoist in the back yard; the era when passing on cooking and craft skills was generally Nana's domain. These days she is likely to be too busy at yoga and attending to her personal wellness to be bothered with baking scones (too many carbs) and picking up dropped stitches.

Happily, all is not lost! Master crafter and textile designer, Cath Derksema has relocated the hills hoist to the rear of The Happen Store and is the coolest version of a crafty Aunt you could wish for.  Within the walls of this repurposed old building, makers can hang their hand-made shibori fabric out to dry or display their colourful stitched cushion covers on the clothes line beside those belonging to a new found friend.

Push open the heavy front door and you are greeted by a range of stunning yarns, Cath's joyfully colourful Prints Charming fabrics, on topic books and a carefully selected range of prints and objects for gifting and home. A champion for 'buy local', all product for sale is exclusively handmade by Australian artists and craftspeople.

It seems to me that Cath has created a modern retail version of 'neighbourhood' where common interests is the connector.

Part shop, gallery, workshop and meeting place, you will find The Happen Store at 55 Parramatta Road Annandale in Sydney.

Tue to Fri 10am–4pm

Sat 12pm–5pm  @thehappenstore @printscharmingoriginalfabrics

Street Art

The streets of Hanoi teem with bicycles, many of them ridden by street vendors carrying fruit and flowers. It’s amazing to see them gracefully pedal past on bikes piled high with colorful cargo, but the impact is lost amid the chaos of Vietnam’s capital. That’s why Loes Heerink photographs them from above. Only then can you can see just how much they’re hauling, and how colorful it is. “They’re works of art,” Heerink says.

Street vendors are everywhere in Hanoi, selling everything from bananas to brooms. Many are rural women who come to the city seeking a better life. They start each day around 4 am, hit the market to buy goods, and spend the day riding about selling their wares, earning just enough to survive. “Life as a street vendor in Hanoi is not easy,” Heerink says. “They don’t get appreciated as much as I think they should.”

Heerink is Dutch and started riding when she was 5. When she went backpacking through Vietnam in 2011, the vendors immediately caught her eye. She moved to Hanoi the following year and tried photographing them, but never liked the result. Then it occurred to her to photograph them from above. Working from a balcony or one of three bridges near her apartment, Heerink would watch the street below with her Canon 6D, catching vendors making the morning rounds with baskets full.

She photographed 50 vendors in three months, each image capturing the beauty and grace of the street vendors who bring a splash of color to the cramped streets of the city.

Words  by Laura Mallonee. Images by Loes Heerick.  

Article re-posted from Wired magazine.

#podfinds #visualmerchandising #freshproduce #loesheerick #vendorsfromabove

VM Food Hanoi

Premium + Popular


Haute couture is the French term for high fashion and refers to the creation of exclusive made-to-order clothing. The pieces are made from high quality, expensive fabric and sewn together with painstaking detail by the most experienced and capable seamstresses. Where does the creation of haute couture take place? In an atelier, of course. The French word translates to workshop. It is the place where the artist creates.

Frites Atelier is where Michelin Star chef Sergio Herman creates his haute couture fries. A chef's studio, if you like, that draws inspiration from both the traditional French brasserie and Dutch culture. Internationally acclaimed Studio Piet Boon's design pays homage to their homeland with bronze Frederik Molenschot stoves sitting alongside hand-turned Cor Unum ceramic jars which dispense sauces worthy of a Michelin Star for their no preservatives or artificial additives alone. Only the best organic Zeeland clay potatoes and produce is used.

A regal crest and staff kitted out in Fashion for Companies clothing has resulted in a luxury chip shop like no other.

If you want to enjoy the guilty pleasure without the calories you can find plenty of photos good enough to eat at: and

 #PODfinds #pointofdifference

Botanical Baker


You could be forgiven for thinking these baked botanical beauties are actual terrariums. I think they are stunning - just 'wow'. They are even more impressive when you discover they are decorated with buttercream and not fondant icing, and the bakery is based in Indonesia (for the non baker ... buttercream in a hot tropical climate is not a match made in heaven).  You can find this very clever cacti cake maker, Ivenoven, inLippo Karawaci, Jakarta ... or follow the food artist on

Spotted on

 #PODfinds #pointofdifference

Make an Entry Statement

autumn nsw1autumn nsw2

On the road somewhere between Orange and Tamworth NSW I spotted this tree lined entry to a cattle station, made all the more striking by the Autumn season. First impressions count no matter what business you are in.


Designer Dogs

pod_pet grocer_streetpod_pet grocer11pod_pet grocer2pod_pet grocer2Apod_pet grocer4pod_pet grocer5pod_pet grocer3pod_pet grocer9Apod_pet grocer6pod_pet grocer9pod_pet grocer10pod_pet grocer

According to the Animal Health Alliance, Australians spend an enormous $8 billion per year on their furry family members. The RSPCA also estimates that the average dog costs roughly $13,000 over the course of its lifetime.

If I was a pooch, I'd vote for parents who live in South Melbourne.

The Pet Grocer (TPG) has been a stalwart of the South Melbourne Market for many years now and got the mandatory hipster interior makeover a couple of years ago. TPG has upped the design ante a hundred fold and unveiled a flagship store a mere tennis ball toss away on Coventry Street.

Step inside and be impressed by the pared back space that would appear to be inspired by the Aesop school of minimalism and restraint. It's gorgeous.

Fresh bone broths, designer dried-food snack boxes, premium preservative and grain-free fresh and frozen portion control packs sit alongside super stylish accessories and natural health remedies.

I cannot even start to relay the conversation I eavesdropped on ... a doggy Mummy who appeared to have lost complete perspective of the real world. Really. I am sure my mother never gave over so much dialog or thought to the dinners she dished up her 5 kids. As this slightly bonkers (in my professional assessment) Mummy handed over her credit card for $140 worth of food for her 4-legged child I did think the world might be bordering on going completely barking mad.

You can find The Pet Grocer, 249 Coventry Street, South Melbourne.

#thepetgrocer #southmelbourne #southmelbournemarket #designerdogs

Oz Dining Trends from Dimmi

On line booking network, Dimmi, published these trends for 2016:

Market down: overall the market dropped by 2.4% with the ACT, QLD and VIC feeling the pinch the most.

Double sittings: two sittings, not one, is now common practice for restaurants. Say goodbye to the much-loved 7:30pm dining slot Australia. Bookings have decreased between 7 – 8pm by 9% on 2013/14, while the time slots either side have both increased.

Mobile boom: for the first time in history we are booking restaurants more on-the-go, not behind our computer screens. 52% of online bookings are now being made from a mobile device. 32% of all bookings are now made within 24 hours of dining time.

Corporates are back: there has been a 41% increase in online bookings, from the top 10 corporates, over the past twelve months.

Fine dining is thriving – but not as we know it: the premium market (more than $85 per head) is up 17% but what defines fine dining is shifting. Restaurants are becoming more accessible and share plates are very in-vogue.

Australians are eating out less frequently but spending more: we are eating out slightly less frequently than last year but we are spending a little more, with an increase of $0.37 on 2013/14.

Distribution channels matter: The Dimmi Booking Network generated $71 million in bookings for Dimmi partner restaurants over the past twelve months. It’s key for restaurants to get connected in order to survive and thrive.The top 3 booking channels that matter for restaurants are Dimmi, TripAdvisor, Qantas Restaurants.

Spend concern: worryingly the average spend in restaurants has increased by only $1.00 in three years. Automation is critical to reduce costs and boost profit margins at a time of increasing rent and labour costs.

Gender wars: the gender gap is closing but males still spend more than females when eating out – $61 and $53 respectively. Males also make more spur of the moment reservations, with 36% of bookings made by men in the 24 hours prior to dining. This compares to 28% for women in the same period.

The telephone is dying: 36% of all bookings for Dimmi Pro restaurants are now being generated online. Still a long way from the 70 – 80% of bookings enjoyed by airlines and hotels online, but the Australian restaurant industry is catching up quickly.

Source: / 2016 News / Australia


Hospitality’s Wake-Up Call


To stay relevant in the increasingly mercurial hospitality industry, hotels are reinventing their relationships with guests and the local community.

POD shares this article from Metropolis Magazine by journalist Jen Murphy.  Illustration by Ethan D'Ercole.

On a recent business trip to Boston, I checked into my hotel at an automated kiosk, ordered room service via an iPad, and used my smartphone to book an Uber to the airport. After my automated checkout, the hotel thanked me for my stay via Twitter. The experience was seamless, yet also soulless. Other than signing for my dinner, I had zero human interaction throughout my four-day stay. When, I thought, did hotel hospitality stop being hospitable?

Our cultural obsession with instant gratification has pushed the hotel industry to excel at customer service at the expense of good old-fashioned hospitality. Big-box hotels have embraced a model of efficiency and convenience that has turned the guest experience into a business transaction rather than a warm and welcoming stay. Guest loyalty, once created by human engagement and memorable moments, is now earned through reward points and Facebook likes. In keeping up with the digital times, the industry has failed to realize that the more connected we are virtually, the more we crave real human connection. I have yet to find an app that re-creates the sense of comfort I feel when I land in a foreign city and am greeted by a smiling stranger who is genuinely interested in taking care of me.

Nothing has reconfirmed our yearning for human connection more than the onset of the sharing economy. Airbnb’s increasing influence on the hospitality industry has been a wake-up call to hotels, which have been scrambling to personalize and localize the traditional guest experience. The 2008 launch of the home-share site fulfilled our desire for both ease and convenience, but, more importantly, it facilitated a relationship between people and place.

Newer brands such as Lark Hotels and Salt Hotels have taken note and found success with their updated twist on bed-and-breakfast hospitality. The stripped-down approach of these boutique properties underscores what truly matters to guests (complimentary locavore breakfast served by a friendly host, yes; multiple dining venues run by star chefs, no). Hosts at Lark and Salt act as both modern-day innkeepers and conduits to the community. The latter is evidence that a hotel’s relationship with the wider community has become just as important as its relationship with its guests.

The hotel has always played the role of historian, shedding light on a city’s past with nostalgically named cocktails, coffee-table books, and design elements. But as hotels become ambassadors of place they also provide a lens into the current cultural zeitgeist of a city. Mini-bars and restaurants showcase local artisans and producers, lobbies double as galleries for local artists, rooftops turn into concert venues for local bands, and gyms host workouts led by cult trainers.

As brands like 21c Museum Hotels and Ace Hotels become cultural hubs for visitors and locals alike, the question for the traveler shifts from “What type of room do I want?” to “What type of people do I want to rub shoulders with during my stay?” The home away from home for travelers is now a hangout for niche segments of a community. Foodies line up to dine at hot hotel restaurants, hipsters hide behind laptops in low-lit lobbies, business execs power-breakfast, and yogis flow in shiny hotel gyms.

As the line between business and leisure travel continues to blur, hotels have the challenge of keeping us plugged-in while also allowing us to tune out, recharge, and reinvent ourselves just a bit.

The emphasis on community-guest engagement has given hotels a leg up on the sharing economy. In April, Airbnb debuted a new brand campaign, “Live There,” and announced a shift in focus to immerse Airbnb guests into a neighborhood through host-generated online guidebooks. And this past July, it launched a pilot program in Sonoma, California, that offered hotel-like amenities including instant booking, 24-hour check-in, and local snacks and wines.

If the hotel industry wants to stay ahead of the sharing economy, it needs to continue to reinvent its relationship with the guest. For centuries, people have turned to travel as a means of personal growth. But as time away becomes more scarce, people are looking to hotels to facilitate personal transformation. Few people have three months to travel the globe, let alone one week to devote to their favorite passion, be it cycling or cooking. As the line between business and leisure travel continues to blur, hotels have the challenge of keeping us plugged-in while also allowing us to tune out, recharge, and reinvent ourselves just a bit.

The hotels of the future will educate, inspire, and improve our overall wellbeing. A good night’s sleep is no longer just about the bed. Pillow menus will be replaced by customizable lighting—and options won’t just go from dim to bright. Technology from the Delos Wellness Real Estate company now gives guests the choice of warm white lighting that adjusts the body’s internal clock or blue energizing light that reduces the effects of jet lag. We’ll see more e-smog-free rooms, like those at Villa Stéphanie in Baden-Baden, Germany, that allow guests to disconnect from Wi-Fi with the touch of a button, guaranteeing distraction-free rest.

While hotels will continue to partner with experts to execute experiences, they’ll also turn inward to take advantage of their own staffs’ knowledge and talents. We’ll see more specialized concierges, like Hotel Vermont in Burlington’s beer concierge, who tap into guests’ geeky obsessions. The stuffy guest-staff formality of the past will give way to more casual encounters as general managers lead morning runs and chefs invite guests into their kitchen gardens. During a recent stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, I bonded with the head of housekeeping—someone I’d normally have no interaction with—because the concierge arranged for him to take me surfing.

As the global consciousness increasingly values experiences over things, we will view real time away from our office, our email, and our day-to-day lives as a luxury, and the resort experience will be reimagined as a result. All-inclusive stays designed for guests to sip cocktails and lounge poolside will give way to think tank–style retreats with a Burning Man–meets–TED Conference sensibility. We’ll see more properties like La Granja, a small farmhouse and guesthouse in Ibiza from Design Hotels founder Claus Sendlinger, which offers Slow Food workshops and lectures on meditation and future mobile societies. Developments like Tres Santos, which bills itself as an “epicenter for well-being” in Todos Santos, Mexico, may be the ultimate pioneers in transformational, locally driven hospitality. When the first phase is completed early next year, the mixed-use community will include residences and a boutique property from hip hotelier Liz Lambert, a community farm, and a branch of Colorado State University where locals and visitors can take classes in conservation and organic farming.

All this may seem like a hospitality revolution, but really the industry shifts are a return to the roots of what people have always sought when they travel—a deeper connection to and understanding of people, place, and themselves.