Keep Calm & Cut It Out: Part 3

Aka: Cargotecture. Ship Goes Hip.

Perhaps you’ve driven by one, a food trailer, a small café, or a small guesthouse made from an upcycled shipping crate. Shipping crates are part of the new wave of interest in smaller, more efficiently designed spaces. Today, for approximately $2500, one can purchase an 8 x 20 shipping crate, thereby preventing it from being scrapped or dumped. Single shipping crates are excellent options for small business owners, or homeowners looking to add an office, studio or guesthouse.

More ambitious upcyclers have gotten creative stacking and stitching together multiple crates into spectacular single-family homes. Various companies now offer designs that meet a variety of needs, whether commercial, residential, or mobile, yes mobile! But, fret not, this is not Honey Boo Boo’s double-wide. For example, the Mobile Dwelling Unit and the Ecopod are mobile, and contain soy-based insulation and recycled rubber flooring. And, some crates, which in their prior lives held refrigerated cargo, are enjoying a second life as pre-insulated units to be purchased as is.


Make no mistake, the trend of upcycled cargo crates is here to stay. In addition to making their mark on the tiny restaurant market, they are being used as temporary housing pods in emergency situations, as penthouse playhouses on top of high rises, and for temporary university housing. What would you do?

Part 2

It’s funny how things sometimes just come together. A few months ago I had the idea to do a series on small space living. It’s something I think about a lot, and which I just sort of look favorably upon. There’s less to clean, less to heat and cool, less clutter spatially, and one hopes, mentally. In my mind I have romanticized having less to tend to, in general.
So, fast forward a bit, and I’m at the LookNook studio chatting with the Design Team and I ask, Hey, has anyone tried that shipping container restaurant, Picnik, on South Lamar? Long story short, we are multi-tasking women on the go, so we scheduled a meeting there. We met the general manager and proprietress, Naomi, who is just as you might imagine her to be, energetic and welcoming. We asked her a bit about the concept for the restaurant. She explained how she struggled with chronic health problems and decided to try the food-as-medicine approach to getting better, and how it worked. We love her vibe.


And, we appreciate the paleo-friendly, gluten free concept, and the vegan options. On our visit we enjoyed shakes, quiche, and chocolate chip cookies; all were great, but the The Green Machine shake? So delicious, so different. Love, love, love it. We intend to return soon for Picnik’s chocolate-y spin on bulletproof coffee, the Mocha Chocolatte (french-pressed coffee blended grass-fed butter, cacao butter, cacao powder, maple syrup and MCT oil), which is rumored to keep you full through lunch.

In the meantime, we thought we’d share a little case study on the versatility of cargotecture in commercial realm by featuring this 200 square foot wunderkind in South Austin. We admire Naomi’s vision; she’s trying to do something different in something different, which we know LookNookers can appreciate. So, if you’re lucky enough to be in South Austin at breakfast or lunchtime, stop by and visit Naomi and her knowledgeable staff and grab a healthy meal or snack in this efficient and well organized space.

Although this patio doesn’t feature a table like Picnik’s (visualize a rustic picnic table with a built in, succulent planter – so cool!), we think the Take a Swing Patio would look pretty good along side it! This peaceful meets modern oasis is the perfect patio design for the Paleo person who loves the great outdoors.

Shannon Signature


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