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!