Design Indaba 2013: Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

Time flashes past so unbelievably fast. It’s almost scary. Right now, to me, it feels as if Design Indaba 2013 was long ago, instead of a month ago. Nevertheless, we are keeping it alive going forward into 2013.

Marica has done her take on the Expo (read it: here) and now it is my turn to deliver my take on the Expo, highlighting a few exhibitors that stood out for me. Saying this though, by no means diminishes any of the other many exhibitors. They were without exception, totally amazing in the presentation of their products.

Design Indaba buzzes with the most astounding creative energy and the exhibition stands are mind blowing in their presentation. I really mean that!! The only pity is that due to the immense number of visitors to the stands, being able to get up close and appreciate all the details of not only the exhibition, but the product, is not always possible. And also there is that unspoken pressure brought on by the same crowds (plus the achy back and feet)… to move on. These very same missed details, I was only able to fully appreciate when I sat down to work through all the images taken by our fab photographer, Laurita Smal. All that is left to say is: KUDOS TO EACH CREATIVE EXHIBITOR. YOU GUYS ROCK AND MAKE OUR CHESTS SWELL WITH PRIDE.

{click images to enlarge & start slideshow}

THE ABSA GALLERY:  Artists participating in the exhibition were previous top 100 Absa L’Atelier entrants – some have travelled abroad whilst others have only travelled locally. They then presented the story of their travels in a small vintage suitcase, of which there were so many to view. The one that I could relate to was this one in the image – it obviously tells of an interesting time spent in Italy. So clever.

ELIZABETH GALLOWAY ACADEMY OF FASHION DESIGN:  Their exhibition stand took the form of a ‘laboratory’. It was fascinating, enchanting and captivating. They had a good few design workstations going on, with fashion designers working on their craft, surrounded by the tools of their trade. I went back to their exhibition twice, just to ensure that the gorgeous little details I missed first time round, had another opportunity to be enjoyed. This exhibition spoke absolute volumes about creative flair and inspired leadership in the world of fashion design. I just could not get enough of it.

DEEP SHEEP:  Their product – WOOL. Oh man – they had dem sheep dressed up as various and intriguing characters. Quirky always catches my eye and allows my imagination to develop my own story. I simply admire the ingenious imagination of marketing their product using these sheep characters. I was so sorely tempted to walk away with one of dem sheep. Particularly the gal flaunting her pearl necklace.

CERAMISTS  –  SANDY GODWIN  &  STOOR In fact, as I sit here and write, I realise that the work of these two ceramists were on opposite ends of the spectrum. Amazing what one is attracted to and shows that there is indeed a market of each. Sandy Godwin’s work is ‘laced’ (excuse the pun) with detailed intricacies – lace work that is delicately classy and yet totally sassy. My mind could not cope with how much time such fine work must take. Stoor’s work on the other hand is more rustic and rugged looking. It is has that kinda ‘handsome rugby player’ appeal to it. When applying that antiqued, worn look to a piece of furniture, the technique requires one to rub on some dark finish to make it look as if the grit & dust has become lodged in the little nooks. Stoor has created that same type of finish to their ceramic pieces.  So cool in my books.

LI EDELKOORT’S AFRICANA MEMPHIS:  I am such an admirer of Li Edelkoort and this year she curated an exhibition stand (sponsored by Woolworths). Short of repeating the same ole adjectives to find expression, I have to say, it was something else. It was so different and one had to take time out to read about the arising Neo Memphis trend that Li is opening up to public awareness, to be able to appreciate the vibrancy of the display. The added value was that Africana flavour and style. If I say ‘totem’ what comes to your mind? American Indian totem poles?? Think again – the totem in this case is all about the layering of textures, colours, styles, designs and more.

Did you attend the Design Indaba 2013 Expo? If you did what or who was it that caught your eye? And if you didn’t manage to get there this year, do all you can to get there in 2014.  Sell whatever of your stuff to get a ticket, but just get there.  You will be blown away by the level of creativity that is to be found in South Africa.

A New Home For Chandler House

There is an exciting new addition to Church Street, Cape Town. Designer, Michael Chandler has recently opened the doors of very own Chandler House shop.

Visi appropriately described the little shop as a “rabbit hole” – and what a creative and magical warren it is!

Michael has meticulously curated a veritable wealth of desirable products to complement his own exceptionally exclusive and beautiful designs. The tiny shop is filled chock-a-block with gorgeous ceramics, cushions, Kenyan scarves, beautiful suzanis, art, antiques, and other collectibles.

Over the past couple of years, Rose and I have excitedly watched Michael’s development of Chandler House from a handful of designs to a growing collection of exceptional pieces that have now found a permanent retail home.

The aspect that we admire most about Chandler House is its distinct and unique identity. In a design climate where originality is a rare find, Michael’s love of Cape heritage has resulted in something truly matchless. His designs celebrate Cape Town’s history and culture, and as designers and proud Capetonians we think that is bloody marvellous.

Well done Michael, we cannot wait to see what glorious rabbit you are going to pull out of your sleeve next!

Be sure to pop into 53 Church Street when next you visit the Mother City. Until then, feast your eyes on these wonderful images or visit the Chandler House website and Facebook page.

All images via Chandler House

Giant Women In South African Design

Growing up as part of the Baby Boomer Generation, I have seen the status of women change so radically. And like most change which is gradual, some things that are part of the fabric of daily life, almost go by unnoticed. Like in my case, the evolutionary change in the status of women. I still remember in my teens, being totally confused as to the reason that there was the (much publized) movement called ‘women’s lib‘. I was a teenager, coping with my own teenager stuff and the fact that women needed to be liberated was the last thing on my agenda. But it happened and today our younger generation of women can reap the benefits of the work achieved by the giant women leaders, that went before them.

I would imagine that in the current generation of young girls and ladies, there may be many who may not always appreciate what some of the giant women have done to raise the status of women in our country. And that is why, I for one revel in the month of August being dedicated as Women’s Month here in SA and more particularly, 9th of August being declared a national public holiday, to honour the women of our nation. Dr John DeMartini (my guru as I am known to call him) always encourages us to : “stand on the shoulders of giants“. Since that is a philosophy that I embrace, Marica and I feel we would want to feature some of those “giant women in the design field” with you today.

Jay Smith

My first encounter with Jay was many years ago, at the start of my decorating career. She was already an Interior Designer much in demand. However, Jay has become synonymous with textile design and manufacture for the Interiors market in the past 20-odd years. Her background in Fine Art made it possible for her to create textile designs with a different and unique angle – building her own brand and ‘handwriting’ (as we like to call it). But, more than that, she was able to keep it local in terms of manufacture – as Jay puts it “through thick and thin.” Being one of the forerunners in this field, she has paved the way for future South African textile designers to express & create their unique fabric designs. The Jay Smith Collection now exports fabrics to suppliers in Australia, UK, Mauritius and Japan. We just love the Jay Smith motto: “Call me obsessive if you must, I can no longer conceal my lust, it’s fabric that turns my iron will to dust!”

Andrea Graff

Love this gorgeous portrait of Andrea taken by Patrick Ryan ( The interior images are via Andrea’s website.

“Renowned for her warm, sophisticated, sensual and beautiful approach, Andrea Graff is one of South Africa’s foremost interior designers. Her signature style layers antique finds with contemporary cutting-edge furniture, and combines objets d’art, luxurious fabrics, decorative patterns, textures and colours with a profound respect for architectural structure and detailing. Her projects range from urban family homes, apartments and holiday pied-à-terres to hotels, bars, lounges, clubs, restaurants and executive offices for clients in South Africa, the United Kingdom, USA, UAE, Africa & Australia.” (via Andrea Graff)

Carrol Boyes

[Images via]

Artist, designer, entrepreneur and successful business woman, Carrol Boyes is recognized as an icon in the South African Design Industry. Her beautiful upmarket homeware and tabletop items has made her a household South Africa name. Strong branding, a passion and commitment to South African design and ongoing investment in human resources ensures the continued success of the Company. She has been honoured with many a awards including the 2008 SA’s Most Influential Women in Business in the Arts & Culture category. (via Carrol Boyes)

Reney Otto

[Images via VISI Magazine, Issue: Winter 61 / Photographer: Dook]

Reney Otto, dubbed ‘the grand dame of South African interiors‘ has amongst her accalades a collaboration with some of South Africa’s top architectural teams on projects including FNB Bank City in Johannesburg. She says she is ever-inspired by the energy of the late Estee Lauder and another American icon, Carolina Herrera – both of whom have influenced her personal style. Reney’s fashion sensiblities are evident in much of her work.  For example, she has developed a signature paint colour, dubbed ‘Armani‘. A neutral ‘greige‘ tone. As an enthusiatic collector, her globetrotting excursions are a large part of her design inspiration. Her Mantra – ” perfection is  not impossible, merely probable”. (via Visi Magazine, Issue: Winter 61)

…and future great – Gemma Orkin

[Images via West Elm]

We though to include Cape Town ceramicist Gemma Orkin into our giant woman of South African design list because she embodies all characteristics that  make a Great. Even though she has not been in the industry as long as the ladies above (although 15 years is nothing to be shy about), she has a passion for South Africa, design and her medium – ceramics. Each piece, handmade and hand-painted, contains Gemma’s unique signature – a sunny, almost child-like illustration of indigenous South African fauna & flora. She has also recently collaborated with USA company West Elm, who is now selling her gorgeous designs to their American market. Watch this lady… she’s a future great!

Design Indaba 2012: Ceramics

By Marica

There were more or less 17 stands devoted to ceramics at this year’s Expo. Immensely popular and usually exceptionally crowded, I had the rare luck of strolling through the ceramic section whilst it was relatively quiet. This allowed me to have a good look.

I was exceedingly impressed with not only the talent but also the diversity of the ceramics on display. It was also nice to see the well-known familiar faces like Sootcookie, Tamarillo Ceramics and Liesel Trautman intermixed with other talented established ceramicists that are (sadly and undeservedly) lesser-known.

As time permits me from giving you a breakdown of all seventeen, here are the two stands who’s designs made the greatest impression on me…

Clay Art by Sonja Moore:

My favourite stand in this category was occupied by Rondebosch ceramicist, Sonja Moore and her beautiful ceramics.

Her beautiful tableware range, which consists of bowls, plates, dishes, mugs and platters, features bird-on-a-wire imagery which is her current signature design. Each piece is 100% handmade which gives it a rather organic character. The range is also dishwasher and oven safe and is available in 5 glaze colours – white, aqua, grey, and now also in ocean melt, and drips & splatters.

What really grab my attention were Sonja’s gorgeous hand-painted vases. Beautifully “illustrated”, she uses a layering process to add colour, texture and visuals to the vases. Her ongoing theme of “freedom, sprout and grow” is quite evident in these delicate whimsical pieces of art. And of course, I think the Spring-coloured combos are simply stunning!

Mervyn Gers Collective:

Another serious head-turner was the combined works of Mervyn Gers along with ceramicists Diana Ferreira, and Karen Kotze of Woven Ceramics. The combination worked together quite beautifully – Mervyn’s beautifully decorated pieces with bold crisp graphics; Diana’s gorgeous earthy, slightly rustic vessels; and Karen’s lovely organic pieces with feminine floral designs.

The show-stealer was Mervyn’s Koi and Blue Willow set which won the prestigious Best Decorated Award at the Ceramics South Africa Cape Regional last year. The detail in this intricate orient-inspired set is quite breathtaking.

Now, I’ve bookmarked these two and most of the other ceramicists and I’ll be keeping a close eye on them. Which means – hopefully many lovely updates and features to follow!

Be sure to keep in touch with Sonja and Mervyn on their Facebook pages here:

Clay Art by Sonja Moore
Mervyn Gers Ceramics
Images via Sonja Moore and Mervyn Gers Facebook page
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Design Indaba 2012 Is Here!

Design Indaba Conference & Expo 2012
Images from the 2011 Design Indaba Conference and Expo

It’s finally that time of the year again! Design Indaba 2012 is but a day away, whoop-whoop!

This year however, Rose and I are extra excited as we have been given media accreditation and will be attending the live simulcast of the Design Indaba Conference which starts tomorrow as well as getting up close and personal with all the exhibitors at the Expo.  The Conference is held over three days, with a back-to-back speaker programme that features a wide range of designers, artists, social entrepreneurs, ad gurus, filmmakers, culinary masters and this year even a scent expert!

We are practically bouncing up and down in our seats from excitement! Keep your eyes peeled as we will be soaking up all the design goodness and posting regular feedback and play-by-plays! YAY!

Design Indaba Expo 2011
Images from the 2011 Design Indaba Conference and Expo

For those of you unfamiliar with Design Indaba, it’s THE event on the South African design calendar which includes the design conference, expo and other design festivities. To further explain the significance of this annual design celebration find below a few excerpts from the proverbial “horse’s mouth”, i.e. The Design Indaba website…

Highlights of the Design Indaba Expo 2010.

Presenting the very best of South African creativity, Design Indaba Expo is a showcase of exceptional design across all disciplines, including advertising, architecture, craft, décor, film, fashion, graphic design, interior design, jewellery, new media, publishing, product design, visual media and more. Every year sees a more sophisticated interpretation of what South African design is.

Setting a high professional standard, each exhibitor is pre-approved by a curatorial panel of industry experts, ensuring that you will only see bespoke designs of the highest quality on the Design Indaba Expo floor.

In 2010 the core Design Indaba Expo, showing more than 280 exhibitors, including 80 first-time exhibitors and 40 Emerging Creatives, drew well over 35 000 visitors, including 379 journalists and 427 buyers – one third of which were international.  –

Design Indaba Expo 2011
Images from the 2011 Design Indaba Conference and Expo


So why all the fuss?

1. Design Indaba Expo is your all-in-one creative stop, recognising and celebrating local creative work across all fields.

2. All designs are quintessentially South African – no derivatives, no imports.

3. An influential contingent of local and international buyers consider Design Indaba one of their key shopping destinations, creating a platform for productive trade relationships.

4. On the Design Indaba Expo floor you can catch all-day fashion shows, short films and Pecha Kucha presentation, chat to the designers or simply browse the gorgeous creations on display.

5. Design Indaba Expo coincides with Design Indaba Conference, resulting in a week of creative rejuvenation.


Images from the 2011 Design Indaba Conference and Expo

THE DESIGN INDABA EXPO takes place from the 2nd – 4th MARCH 2012 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Opening Hours:

Friday 2 March:  10h00 – 20h00 (On-site tickets sales close at 19h00)
Saturday 3 March:  10h00 – 20h00 (On-site tickets sales close at 19h00)
Sunday 4 March:  10h00 – 18h00 (On-site tickets sales close at 17h00)


Adults:  R60
Pensioners and Students:  R40
Scholars and Children:  R30
Kids under 10:  free!

 Info & images via the Design Indaba website (be sure to check it out for more info)

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Cross Your Heart…

So, we entered the week countdown before Valentines Day 2012. To inspire you, here is a handful of quirky gift ideas for V-Day… all featuring the traditional Valentine’s heart! Like last year, we strive to keep V-Day cheese-free…forget the tacky plastic roses, rather get your loved one of these original beauties!

…oh, and keep your eyes peeled – there’s one or two more Valentines Day post coming your way this next week!

 The talented Heather Moore, aka Skinny LaMinx, started making these awesome ceramic mugs with some of her designs on it. As you can see, there’s one or two Valentines Day mugs too! All available from her shop in 201 Bree Street in Cape Town.

I love, love, love these beautiful embroidered scatter cushions from @Home. Released with Valentines Day in mind it’s got a lovely handmade feel to it – I especially love the intricate almost crochet-like pattern…and the cute little birdies of course.

A whole heart & polka dot range from Ckramics – a variety of bowls, sugar pots, and the cutest milk jugs, but to name a few. The range includes these beautiful handpainted ceramic  bowls with lovely whimsy phrases, heart & dot designs. These beauties can be ordered through us.

One of the best-sellers at QuirkyMe, the heart-shaped Kiaat chopping board usually FLIES off their shelves. The lace-like engraving is simply beautiful – this chopping board would look stunning if used as a serving plate – maybe with gorgeous home-made bread or dainty appetisers on it?

If you’re still looking for the perfect V-Day gift for the lady in your life – what about this lovely little ceramic jewellery box with heart detail from The Pause Room (and be sure to hide something special…and expensive in it)!

I’m in love with this funky little addition to the Sagaform product range – a heart-shaped stoneware bowl in passionate red with a matching bamboo spoon. Even the spoon’s hanging hole is a little carved heart! Luckily, YuppieChef is the local supplier for Sagaform – so South Africans can also own some lovely Sagaform awesomeness.


This creative light from TinTown has love written all over it…literally! Love the intricate detail and the two little kissing Lovebirds at the top! Now that would be a romantic gift!

Or what about opting for one of Freshly Found‘s awesome message cards. They’re hand cut, lightly padded and stitched from various vintage record covers – awesome! A blackboard card heart is attached to the back along with a piece of chalk for your love message. The card is mounted on a vintage knitting needle – so you can pretty much stick it into anything. So clever!

Images sourced via specific suppliers (see link in text).