Decor Diva: Wallpaper – To Be or Not To Be?

A very thought provoking comment made on the last Decor Diva post, “Damask Is Dead”,  the likelihood that wallpaper may be suffering the same fate as Damask, has prompted me to deliver my opinion on the matter.

From Harlequin Fabric's Boutique Collection

During the last decade, wallpaper as an interior element was brought out of retirement.  It had been hovering somewhere in the background and with the rise of the clean linear minimalism style, it was the last thing on any decorator’s agenda, unless your project was along the more Country English traditional lines.

Harlequin Fabric's from the Amilie and Anoushka Wallpaper Collections

Then the trend in textures began to grab the attention of both the interior trade professionals and the public.  Texture was to be found not only in accessories, but in fabrics and wall finishes as well.  The result was that wallpaper was revived and brought out of retirement.

Some lovely blues also from Harlequin

Like with any other revival it was better than ever before, with the patterns being bold, upgraded modern images – we were suddenly able to apply pattern to the wall in a contemporary context as well.  The furniture, fabrics and wallpapers were blended to facilitated settings and styles that retained authentic contemporary genre.  Naturally it followed that all sort of patterns were available, including that glamorous Hollywood style, with glitter and all things bling.

Geometric patterns are very trendy

Wallpaper was once again enjoying the limelight as a macro trend. SA Trend Guru Dave Nemeth pointed out that a macro trend is something that sticks around for a good couple of years.

Some beautiful stripes

The question is whether, like Damask (and property), the wallpaper ‘bubble’ has burst?  I am no trend forecaster but from where I sit it does not seem like it.  I spoke with one of our very popular local wallpaper suppliers and their business within the design trade seems still to be flourishing.

These gorgeous wallpapers are from Wall & Deco - beautiful hey! Love the concrete-ish background.

I was also reminded what Gary Searle, of the fabric house St. Leger & Viney, had to say at one of his recent trend talks.  While on a trip to the UK he observed the Nostalgia trend taking hold.  All things English, such as draped tables (again) nostalgic floral patterns AND MATCHING /COMPLIMENTARY WALLPAPER.

Also for Wall & Deco (so funky - it's a shame we can't get these locally)

Then there is yet another and completely different wallpaper application happening.  Graphic Designers and Photographers are converting photo images into full-scale images that cover a whole wall.  Customised and not too badly priced neither.  We have used this application via Cara Saven.

Lovely monotone wallpapers (these are from Anthropologie)

I think that wallpaper has some life left to live.  Dave Nemeth may or may not agree with me, but that is my gut feeling.

Bold black, white & silvers

Due to the fact that most paper has to be imported, the price becomes a drawback and this could slow down its popularity.  Unlike in the UK & Ireland where you can get wallpaper in your local Homeware store.

So pretty!

So, I guess we are just going to have to watch and see if Wallpaper is: TO BE OR NOT TO BE.

I would be very interested to know what the general take on this topic is.  Love to hear you.

DD – over and out.

All wallpaper from Harlequin (except where otherwise stated), check them out: here. Harlequin wallpaper can be found locally at Black Fabrics.

Wall & Deco website: here (it’s a must! They’re Italian so be sure to translate the page)

And of course, the lovely Anthropologie: here.


Dear Me…

By Marica

Rose and I recently had a “town day” – a tradition we instituted after our move from our beloved little Victorian office in Kloof Nek to our current studio in Edgemead. We use our town day to soak up some of the City Bowl-inspiration & zing and to have a good scratch around Town for new or hidden treasures. We found one such treasure tucked away in an inconspicuous part of Longmarket Street.

Dear Me is a new brasserie & bar that opened earlier this year in a stunning 181 year-old, three storey building. Architect & urban designer Mario Bonadei undertook the massive task of restoring the geriatric building. It must have been no easy feat renovating the building to former glory whilst making allowance for the integration of the funky contemporary interiors designed by Francois du Plessis.

The trendy brasserie & deli occupies the ground floor. The predominantly white & gray interior with just a touch of fresh green and some natural timbers here and there compliment the exposed masonry of the existing building beautifully. I love the slightly industrial-looking glass pendant lights over the deli counter and the beautiful green honeycomb-like wine racks under the staircase.

Another quirky little feature is the various potted plants hanging upside down from the ceiling (wonder who waters it every week?) The quirky wall and mirror designs were designed by illustrator Daniel Ting Chong – quite playful.

Rose immediately recognised the beautiful crate-like (and slightly Provencial) storage & display unit as the fine craftsmanship of our friends at Moorgas & Sons.


The first floor is mainly used for functions. Open to the staircase is a funky little interlude lounge with quirky retro furniture and decor and a beautiful private dining area containing the “Chef’s Table” which hosts the Thursday evening food and wine pairing.

The private function room offers a blank canvas with its pure white walls and floors and the beautiful crystal chandeliers add just a touch of glamour and elegance.

The top floor contains the striking rooftop bar, Tjing-Tjing, that opens up to a lovely rooftop balcony (perfect for warm summer nights). The dominant feature of this intimate loft space is the beautiful existing timber roof beams, a rustic contrast against the bold & glossy blood-red bar with its gorgeous Tom Dixon brass pendant lights.

Another beautiful element is the black & white photo-collage wallpapered wall with the crochet-patterned mandala-like feature.

Even though this Tjing-Tjing is said to be Chinese-inspired it reminds me somewhat of a Russian tearoom – it must be the brilliant red bar counter and shiny faux leathers (maybe it’s a little of both like Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl).

Chef Vanessa Marx makes delicious unpretentious food and the menu is changed daily. They have recieved glowing reviews so far….well worth a visit.

What an awesome find – Rose, I think we should have town days more often…

Images courtesy of Dear Me (thanks Ilse & Liza)

Dear Me:
165 Longmarket Street
Cape Town
Tel no: 021 422 4920
Fax no: 021 422 4815

Tretchikoff: The People’s Painter

Being a thoroughbred Cape Townian, I was exposed to the frequent press that Vladimir Tretchikoff received through the 60’ to 80’s period. The awareness that we had a controversial artist living in our midst somehow made its impression upon me.

Vladimir Tretchikoff, Self-Portrait (1944/1950) Image via Iziko Museums, Photographer, Carina Beyer.

I always liked his work – despite having very little understanding and appreciation for art in my youth and early adulthood, his vivid imagery and sharp colours, always managed to capture my attention. I guess I was one of those ‘people out there’ towards whom he was directing his work.

Vladimir Tretchikoff, Chinese Girl (1952) Image via Iziko Museums, Photographer, Carina Beyer.

It almost seemed unfair that he was labelled “King of Kitsch” when he was taking his work to the people, by having exhibitions in the most unusual public places, such a department stores – locally and abroad.

Vladimir Tretchikoff, Portraits. Images via Tretchikoff Foundation

Well at a time when kitsch is no longer a swear word and when all that was previously considered kitsch has become trendy, being labelled “King of Kitsch” could actually have a positive spin for Tretchikoff as an artist, as opposed to the unnecessary undermining effect of the past.

The Vladimir Tretchikoff Exhibition at the IZIKO National Art Gallery in Cape Town. Image via Iziko Museums, Photographer, Carina Beyer.

When news of the exhibition hit my ears, I was determined to make my way to the Iziko National Art Gallery in the Cape Town Gardens. I wanted to experience the man as well as his original pieces.  I had an urge to de-mystify the artist.

Vladimir Tretchikoff, Melon Boy. Image via Tretchikoff Foundation
Vladimir Tretchikoff, Kwela Boy. Image via Tretchikoff Foundation

I was not disappointed at all – his vivid imagery and colours still did it for me.  Together with a brief encounter with the exhibition curator, Andrew Lamprecht and the many newspaper clippings, my appreciation for his work was re-kindled.  With one exception – that of the image series he painted to portray his take on the Ten Commandments – they did not do it for me. But viewed in the context of 90 odd images, it is but a minor.

Curator Andrew Lamprecht gestures at a press preview during a retrospective on Vladimir Tretchikoff on April 25, 2011 at the IZIKO National Gallery in Cape Town. Photo courtesy: AFP

To top it all, I actually discovered via a blog article written by his granddaughter, Natasha of the Tretchikoff Trust, that he embraced the same life philosophy as I do. To quote: “Life is about finding something you love doing so much that you don’t even notice time passing. SIMPLY DO WHAT YOU LOVE NO MATTER WHAT”.

Check out this excellent clip VISI compiled of the Exhibition.


His life’s journey as a local and international artist bore testimony to this philosophy. Despite all the challenges and opposition the People’s Artist experienced, he continued to do what he loved, making money while doing it and going on to become a legend of his time.

These famous flower prints where sold in the thousands.

I would urge you not to miss out on the opportunity that we have been afforded through this Tretchikoff Exhibition – go for your own reasons, but go!

IZIKO South African National Gallery
Rooms 4,5,6 and the Liberman Room
For more Images and Info check out the following:
Tretchikoff Foundation Website
IZIKO National Gallery Facebook Page

Thistle Cottage – Up-cycled Treasure Trove

Many years ago a very good friend of mine, Margot Ammerman, took the bold step of buying a quaint cottage along Belvedere Road to convert into a shop for her abundance of furniture and objects d’art – a right treasure trove.

Today we classify her style of shop as nostalgic, vintage with up-cycled furniture.  It seems as if Margot was really ahead of her time OR she has been found doing the right thing at the right time – up grading furniture and accessories from the past to that place of being something trendy we just need to have.

She trawls the auctions and other hidden places gathering her wares.  Then takes them to her workshop at the back of Thistle Cottage, where she applies her magic in paint techniques to transform the each piece of furniture to something shabby chic (poor husband has also been found with paint dripping from his hair as well).  In fact, Thistle Cottage has many services to offer, including upgrading your ole stuff.

There are plenty of décor accessories to be had as well for any room in the house. When I go to Thistle Cottage, I have to give myself plenty of time there, just to be able to take in everything.  I am one of those people who get great pleasure from just shopping with my eyes.

So, when you are next going along Belvedere Road look out for the quaint cottage, painted dark grey, with swing plate announcing Thistle Cottage.  One of the latest members of staff there is little Ruby Grace – Margot’s totally charming and beautiful baby girl.

80 Belvedere Road
Cape Town
Tel: 021 683 0060

Lula Fabrics *SALE*

Lula Fabrics is having a huge sale this week (until Friday). AND it’s open tomorrow – on a public holiday no less  – so NO excuses for missing it! Excellent opportunity to get some of that trademark Lula loveliness at slashed prices (AND it’s open to the public – YAY!). The sale tomorrow is between 9am and 1pm at Lula’s showroom in Gardens and between 8:30am and 4:30pm the rest of the week. Ready, steady, BARGAIN!

Lula Fabrics Showroom:

Unit 5 Canterbury Studios
35 Wesley St, Gardens
Cape Town
Tel: (021) 461 0620

Damask is Dead

Damask is dead…so sayeth the Décor Diva.

A couple of years ago, while working on the bedroom schemes of some of the Irish hotel’s 5 star bedrooms, I was found OOHH-ing and AHH–ing over any damask pattern fabric or wallpaper that came across my path.  That had started back in 2005/06 for me and most other decorators. Damask had made its return to the textile scene and I loved it.

However, my client would have none of it – she did not want to see another damask pattern, declaring that to her Damask had been there and done it. It could be found in most Irish retail outlets, in the form of curtains, cushions, wallpapers and the more.

I looked at her like she had completely missed it, but she was the client.  So we went down another route.

Today I am where she was at that time (5 years ago – talk about Europe being ahead of us).

All I want to cry out is: “ENOUGH ALREADY – DAMASK IS DEAD – been there, done it, got the T-Shirt and all and all and all. Damask as we know it – No more please”.

What may you say provoked this response?  Actually truth be known I have known that Damask was out of the trend spotlight for sometime now, but recently while paging through wallpaper and fabric books, I once again came across damask patterns, I had to give expression the truth.  (Do you ever form a picture in your head? The picture of damask I have in my head is that of one old lady – shrivelled with age with one foot in the grave and the other halfway there).

Let it be known – Damask is done.  Let’s embrace the current trends, albeit a revival of heritage and nostalgia.  Let’s go with the stripes, the vibrant colours, the locally designed textiles that come from fabric houses such as Lula Fabrics, So Kiff, the Design Team, Skinny laMinx and plenty of other.   If you are still holding onto Hollywood Glamour, then at least combine it with that which is natural.  Such a cool look as well.

If someone wants to rescue that Old Lady Damask from the grave, then they had better grab her quickly, give her some natural cloth and trendy bright colours.

Let’s hear how you feel.