Trunk & Orderly

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 24th May 2012

Custom suitcases, lunch cases, road cases and storage boxes by new Ballarat company, Trunk & Orderly

Details from the Trunk & Orderly workshop in Ballarat – photos by Lucy Feagins

Trunk & Orderly designer Joel Adams in his workshop

Joel reluctantly poses for a photograph!  (pictured with blue lunch case)

So I took a last minute detour to Ballarat YESTERDAY to shoot this story. Which is not to say I didn’t already have some supplied shots… but I had an inkling this little scoop might be worth a visit, a chat, and a 50mm lens.  I was right…!

The Trunk & Orderly story began many years ago with a chance discovery in the back of a North Melbourne office surplus shop.  Joel Adams came across two unusually shaped, red fibreboard cases.  As a designer for Crumpler at the time, Joel had a growing collection of vintage cases, and had once fitted out a shop with cases as display tables. Joel searched for the brand on the label – Everlite – and found that they still operated, and were local. He enquired about getting some custom cases made up for a possible new venture at that time, but it didn’t go ahead.

Fast forward five years and Joel was again rummaging for treasures, on an online auction site. He came across some interesting looking machinery. Joel visited the seller – it was John Eland again, third generation case-maker of the Everlite Travel Goods company. It turned out John was selling up his entire factory of case-making equipment… and the stock. Now in his eighties, offers from developers for his factory on the Darebin River in Thornbury were just too tempting for John to pass up. Everlite was retiring.

Joel was on the lookout for a new venture, so, with partner Anna, they nutted out a plan and made John an offer.   Joel spent some time with John learning the many processes involved in putting together a case. They put all the machinery and stock in several trucks, and drove on up to Ballarat, where Joel is based.   John came up to help with setting up the equipment, keen to pass on his craft.

With a background in sculpture, cabinetry and product design at Crumpler, Joel is pretty chuffed with the old-school equipment and materials he has scored from Everlite.  It’s amazing just how many different machines is takes to create one case – each massive steel machine performs just one specific task, from cutting and scoring the board, to riveting each section together, and creating those trademark metal corners.  Seeing Joel tinker with these old machines in his workshop, bringing them back to function and testing new processes and designs, it’s clear he’s in his element!

Trunk & Orderly pays tribute to iconic suitcase design with a new range of cases and storage boxes, made in the style of traditional fibreboard suitcases. Whilst you can buy off-the-shelf designs direct from the Trunk & Orderly website, the cases are also fully customisable – ideal for collaboration if you’re after something specific!  Check out the custom storage units Joel makes incorporating his handcrafted boxes – I can just see this concept working en masse with custom cabinetry for retail / hospitality interiors… I’m predicting a trend might start here!

Each Trunk & Orderly product is individually handcrafted in Ballarat, currently by Joel himself.  Soon he’s hoping to employ some assistance.  In its hey day Everlite employed over 30 people and churned out over 10,000 of their popular ‘mini cases’ a year… great to see the baton passed on!

Trunk & Orderly cases in a custom filing cabinet prototype

Original Everlite ledgers from 1981, passed on to Joel by John Eland, outlining specific materials and costs for custom orders!

Lunch cases posing on Joel’s massive fibreboard guillotine

Riveting machines!  There are three different rivets in each case, and each requires a different machine.

Couldn’t resist a pic of Joels’ in-studio rock climbing wall… too funny!  I’m guessing this element was not inherited from John at Everlite!

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 24th May 2012


  • carly 4 years ago

    Wow! Such a top story and great to see an old art being passed along to continue the tradition, so inspiring!

  • Yolanda 4 years ago

    What an amazing little story. I was born in Creswick near Ballarat, and for my first day at the local primary school (1980) I took along my brand new orange Everlite school case (with brown corners). I still have it today and it houses all my treasured little nick nacks from childhood. Tucked up safely in a cupboard it will get a dusting off today. Might just go source one for each of my kids now …. Wonderful to see – thankyou.

  • Amanda 4 years ago

    I had one of these little brown cases as my first school bag! I love that the craft has been passed on.

  • Cathg1g2 4 years ago


  • suzie 4 years ago

    I had a red case, I wish I still had it! This is a great story, it’s so fantastic to see these cases being made and that ledger is a snapshot of history.

  • Laura 4 years ago

    I love this story, such a feel good , happy start to the day!

  • Lauren 4 years ago

    I love this story! So interesting to see something that was almost lost being revived!

  • feyza 4 years ago

    Oh, that is such a sweet story! I want a little red lunchbox!

  • dustjacket 4 years ago

    I love stories like this…so happy he was interested and is giving new life to this gorgeous craft. I adore old style cases.

  • Claire 4 years ago

    What an incredible story, wonderful to see the tradition carrying on. I’m sure they’ll be flooded with enquiries. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very cool. I still have my little red case from my first day at school (so long ago than I care to remember) and I thought it looked so big to me then with just a vegemite sandwich and a drawing inside. So great to be breathing life into an old tradition.

  • jiah 4 years ago

    Fantastic! Wonderful to see a happy Australian manufacturing story and a new life for such an iconic product.

    That little blue lunch box with the red handle is mine on pay day :)

  • Annie @habbotstudios 4 years ago

    what a killer story Lucy. Such a fantastic (not to mention rare) good news revival tale! Makes me excited to get stuck into my work today! thank you.

  • janef 4 years ago

    My hubby is an old school toolmaker who is currently not working fulltime in the industry because of the state of manufacturing in Aus. So to read such an amazing story as this has made me feel so good. Im a strong believer in things happening for a reason, and it was obviously meant to be that Joel and John found each other and that the business has a new chapter. Well done Lucy for this gem of a story.
    – and PS I still have my old brown school case too (packed with old TV Week Split Enz posters- those were the days!!)

  • Jess 4 years ago

    Great ‘scoop’ Lucy! Really enjoyed this story – so charming!

  • Morgan Wills 4 years ago

    When I started school my Mother bought me a little yellow Everlite suitcase that I took my lunch in. What a great story and I am excited to hear that he is making these in Ballarat…the Crafty Squirrel has got her product design ears pricked! :-)

  • sylvia 4 years ago

    what a beautiful story! john of everlite must be so happy that he handed over his tools and machinery to joel…and to learn the craft from john wow what a honour! ITs so important to pass on the craftsmen knowledge these days!!!

  • Clare Mc 4 years ago

    How wonderful! The lunch cases are so delicious!
    I have a several original Everlite cases but my true loyalty lies with Globite, with a small collection of schoolcases (about 40) and a few stacks of my grandparents’ old leather trunks and cases. This deletes the need for furniture.. Suitcases are so very versatile, nostalgic and portable (derr) it should also make it possible to move house holus-bolus on the back of a ute.
    Oh, and I’m wondering if the company name is a play on drunk & disorderly, or am I wondering the bleedin’ obvious?? Love it, all of it, fabulous!!

  • lizzz 4 years ago

    …all power to you!

  • Catherine 4 years ago

    What a great story! I had lots of Everlite cases, sadly now lost – but I am hoping to find some for my daughters now! It’s wonderful to see a craft like this handed on and the making of lovely things continuing…

  • Kate Dickson-Battye 4 years ago

    This is such a beautiful story. The cases bring back memories for many of us who took these to school. It gives me hope that one day we might recover for mass produced products. Joel you are a champion.

  • Kirsten Perry 4 years ago

    Great to see a mix of vintage and new. Love it. Go Joel!

  • Simone Patterson 4 years ago

    Oh I had a blue one of these in Primary school! I wish I’d kept it…

  • Jo 4 years ago

    I read this story this morning and I loved it. I loved it because I have such a “thing” for these old cases and because I thought it was so wonderful that this craft has been revived and the history saved.

    I have had two cases sitting in our hallway, saved from hard rubbsh a couple of years ago, and I went and had a look at them. Sure enough, original Everlite cases! Yay! Just posted some pics of them on FB. Click on my link to see.

    Great story. Love the storage unit!

  • pen 4 years ago

    you really don’t know how exciting this story makes me!

  • Jo 4 years ago

    Sorry, not sure what is going on with my FB link, but I’m not poor Vicki Christner.

    Here is the link again, and if it doesn’t work, try looking up Violet & Rose on FB.

    Apologies again!

  • Cat 4 years ago

    oooh! I want one of each please!!! Such a wonderful craft…. I wish him every success xx

  • Lucy 4 years ago

    WOW guys 27 comments on this post already – amazing!

    Thanks for rewarding my drive to Ballarat yesterday with so much love! And thanks for rewarding Joel’s project with so much interest! First retailer to kit out their shop with a floor to ceiling wall of custom Trunk & Orderly storage wins a TDF story! Promise! :)

  • Deb 4 years ago

    I have a 33 year old green case that mum gave me for school to use as a lunch box/bag. I absolutely love it. It’s in perfect condition. Thanks for the insight into this Lucy!

  • The Minimalist 4 years ago

    Wow! I have a mini green one that I inherited from my older sister who used to take it to school! I used to keep my LEGO in mine when I was little.
    I would love to get a whole bunch of these up to Sydney for The Minimalist Store. We love handmade!
    Thanks for sharing Lucy!

  • Rachael Westblade 4 years ago

    OMG! Have been looking for ones like this everywhere, and they are right on my front door step! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ray Garrod 4 years ago

    oh WOW. These are just amaazing…what a great idea! I love cases like this but dont like the smelly old things falling apart you often find in auctions and charity stores. I love the cabinet idea too. I want one!

  • Belinda Pieris 4 years ago

    Wow, love it!

  • MildlyCrafty 4 years ago

    Wow, that’s fabulous! I had an orange one when I was in primary school … OK I couldn’t help it, I just bought one for my unborn son :)

  • Penthea M-R 4 years ago

    These trunks sure are sweet! We love them here in Ballarat and are hoping to fill our little shop come cafe with quite a few of them! You’ll have to drop in for a Supreme Coffee next time you’re in Ballarat Lucy!

  • Penthea M-R 4 years ago

    ps. I had a sunny yellow one for my first day of school!

  • msd 4 years ago

    I still have a blue one!

  • Kate Scott 4 years ago

    Want, want, want! Those duck-egg blue ones!

  • Miss Millie 4 years ago

    When ever I visited my Dad’s best mate he would bring out a case filled with Matchbox cars! I’d forgotten about it until today. <3 I purchased one before I got out of bed this morning! Can't wait til it arrives.

  • ella 4 years ago

    oh what a heart warming story on such a cold melbourne day. both joels are clearly very talented and so nice to see a craft past down to be clebrated by a new gereration.
    i cannot wait to purchase a couple of these for my next little weekend away.

  • michele 4 years ago

    oh lucy this story to truly amazing!!! The soul, the history, and the sense of love that Joel has for a dying industry…its brilliant that you were able to capture it so beautifully… This is my kind of ‘feel good’ story in the arts industry… thank you x

  • Zoe 4 years ago

    Amazing story…such a feel good story! Love that all those machines are saved and the craft has been revived…now I just one of every case! thanks for the ace story Lucy! x

  • Artist heaven 4 years ago

    Lovely interiors and such a catchy name Trunk & Orderly! . It just proves Ballarat in one arty space, just for everyone.

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