Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2017 Finalists!

MBOISA 2016

It’s our pleasure to present the much-anticipated Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) 2017 finalists. Featuring a mixed bag of finalists including film, fashion and art, the MBOISA finalists were nominated by ten local celebrity influencers and tastemakers. Beauty is so subjective and sometimes the chosen objects can seem so arbitrary and unconventional. Fortunately, a short video was made of each finalist to better explain why the object has been nominated and what makes it beautiful.

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“Every year Design Indaba invites the public to engage with the question of what constitutes beauty through the MBOISA award. More than just an object of visual delight, MBOISA encourage a wider definition of beauty – one that encapsulates attributes such as social significance, economic impact, usability, sustainability and even humour.” – Design Indaba

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This year the various Most Beautiful Object in South Africa nominations will be exhibited at the Artscape in Cape Town as part of the annual Design Indaba Festival in next month. While Design Indaba Conference and Simulcast-goers can view the exhibition throughout  course of the Festival, the exhibition will be open to the public as part of the Design Indaba Nightscape programme at the Artscape Theatre each day from 1 to 3 March from 17:30, or enjoy a free visit on Saturday 4 March from 10:30 until 16:00.

{The winners will be announced the 3 of March 2017. Go to the Design Indaba website (here) for a full description of each finalist’s design and to VOTE!}

View the 10 Most Beautiful Object in South Africa nominations below:

BUTTERFLY WALL INSTALLATION: by Mark Rautenbach

Taking inspiration from the 19th-century practice of collecting butterflies for display, Mark Rautenbach designed this vast installation using a material that is traditionally thought to be disposable – burnt paper. He wanted to create something that is both delicate (fragile wings suspended by thread) and banal (destructed pieces of paper) in nature.


GQAMA NTYATYAMBO: by Loyiso Mkize

Gqama Ntyatyambo is a painting by fine artist Loyiso Mkize that was spotted by Alinah Seloane on social media. It captivated her instantly as she saw a reflection of her own life in the artwork’s depictions of female stoicism. Various statuesque scenes are portrayed in minute detail around the face of the main subject that represent the various social dynamics that women face in a modern South African context.


INDALO BACKPACK: by Inga Gubeka

Gubeka’s backpack design, ‘Umthwalo’ (meaning ‘baggage’), is simple and detailed. Using basic woodcraft and surface-finishing techniques, he creates wooden backpacks that are ready for the real world of wear and tear. The form consists of a sturdy wooden box as a base, hand-dyed leather straps and a lid mechanism made of wooden bands.


JOE SLOVO WEST COMMUNITY PROJECT: by Kevin Kimwelle

The Joe Slovo West Community Project, a haven for small children on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, was nominated by SA filmmaker Hanneke Schutte. The small school’s design was managed by Kevin Kimwelle, an architect with an affection for alternative building methods and sustainable design. The project was a total renovation of a previous nursery that had become too small to host the growing number of toddlers that relied the nursery on a regular basis. A local non-profit organisation, Love Story, stepped in and drafted the help of a number of architects to revamp the space.


KARIBA TRAILER: by Blue Forest Collective

“Kariba is a film project in the making that originally started as a graphic novel by Cape Town-based Blue Forest Collective. It tells the story of the Zambezi river and the mythical spirit that guides its waters. The plot is driven by the construction of the Kariba dam wall, a barrier that causes disturbance in the natural surroundings where the rules are bent by magic.”


MOROCCAN MAGIC DRESS: by Nandi Mngoma

The Moroccan Magic Dress is the culmination of the collaborative effort between two young South African fashion designers, Nandi Mngoma and Inga Madyibi. Taking inspiration from the architecture of Morocco and the country’s vibrant approach to colour, the fashion duo created a range that would express the ethos of a new Africa.


SCULPTURE FROM LEFA LA NTATE INSTALLATION: by Mohau Modisakeng

In an effort to solidify photographic imagery in material form, South African visual artist Mohau Modisakeng cast his own likeness in resin and bronze. It forms part of a larger travelling exhibition known as Lefa La Ntate. It was the unsettling attention to detail in the artwork that caught the eye of musician Nakhane Toure: the facial texture, expression and life-like form of the bronze figure that moved Toure. As he puts it, ‘I like my beauty to be a little bit more… rough.'”


THE HAWKERS ROCKING CHAIR: by Thebe Magugu

The Hawker’s Rocking Chair is a product of cooperation between fashion designer Thebe Magugu and craftsman Emile Millward. These disparate designers each brought their expertise and sense of style to the creative process – an odd relationship that culminated in the unique rocking chair. Magugu derived inspiration from powerful and distinct women for this project, exploring both masculinity and femininity, quirky textiles and the relationship between metallic textures and hues of green.


THE ROCKPOOL COFFEE TABLE: by Caroline Vieira

The RockPool Table is a natural seawater scene enshrined in ceramics. It is an affinity for the Earth and professional craft that drew Roger Ballen to this design by ceramics-guru Caroline Vieira. Passionate about organic development, Vieira describes the fact that some of the RockPool surfaces broke during creation, resulting in flaws that she would keep as part of their new design as small tables with help from her husband.


THE SANKARA RUG: by Nkuli Mlangeni

“The Sankara Rug by textile designer Nkuli Mlangeni is an expression of southern Africa’s modernity as well as its rich history of craft, according to interior designer Bielle Bellingham. She was drawn to the work of Mlangeni and her artisan team, not only for their high level of weaving skill but also the cultural research and historic imagery that informs Mlangeni’s designs.”

So what do you think, see something you like? Who is going to get your vote?

Trend: Factory Windows

Trend Alert: Factory Windows

By Marica

A few months ago in our post, Trend Alert: Black Metal, you might recall that I mentioned “Factory Windows” in passing. The particular post was about the widespread popularity and diverse use of “Black Metal” in interiors, homeware and fixtures.

At the time I felt that the revival and reappropriation of Factory Windows is currently such an amazing phenomenon and beautiful interior trend that it deserved a Trend Alert post of its own…

What is a Factory Window?

Let’s first establish what I mean by “Factory Window”. A Factory Window is a big steel-framed, multi-pane window that was often used in factories, industrial buildings and warehouses in the early to mid 19th century (and before).

These windows were popular for two rather practical reasons:

Firstly, the steel grid or “muntins” provided a solid structure to create a much larger window than was the norm of the time. Its size provided an abundance of natural light for the factory workers labouring inside.

Furthermore, small pane windows are not only more affordable to produce but also cheaper to replace. If one pane of glass breaks you only have to replace that one pane and not the entire window.

A Factory Window Revival:

While the resurgence of factory windows is definitely not a new trend – it has been circulating for a few years now – it seems that its popularity has reached a peak.

I cannot read an interior blog or browse through my Pinterest feed without seeing a dozen images of factory windows being used in (un)usual ways. I mean, what is an Industrial styled loft without a stunning (and appropriate) factory window?!

I believe it is precisely due to the eclipsing popularity and longevity of the Industrial interior style that factory windows are currently such a runaway success.

 Vintage vs Faux Factory Windows:

The “real deal” vintage steel factory windows would of course be first prize. Many salvage yards and second-hand dealers sell reclaimed building materials from refurbished or demolished buildings. Here in Cape Town for instance, one only has to drive down the Woodstock or Salt River main road to spot vintage windows and doors stacked up on various thrift shop sidewalks.

However, if you can’t manage to get your hands on reclaimed factory windows, there is no shame in “faking it”. Many homeowners and designers choose to have factory-like steel windows custom-made to fit their specific space and purpose. This can however be a costly exercise.

It is for that exact reason that many opt to recreate the factory window effect using wood. Once the window grid has been constructed from square pieces of timber and has been painted in the desired colour, no one will know the difference.

Factory Windows Used as Shower Doors & Screens:

We have spotted one more curious use for factory windows – this time in the bathroom. Instead of using the standard, manufacturer’s glass doors and screens one can use factory windows to enclose a shower. A similar effect can be created by using steel French windows and doors.

Bathrooms are excellent, yet often underutilised, spaces to create decorative features and focal points. Factory windows will add an interesting vintage industrial flavour to your bathroom.

Bright & Colourful Factory Windows:

While black is the colour one immediately associates with the Factory Window trend, it is not necessarily mutually exclusive. Yes, the contrast of inky black against stark white walls – particularly in a monochromatic Scandinavian type interior – is beautiful.

However, a white painted window frame can work just as well, especially if your space has a softer colour scheme or if you are trying to avoid a standout feature. Another popular choice is grey – be it a soft dove grey or a darker gunmetal grey or charcoal. Grey as a colour choice is very much in keeping with that of an Industrial Style colour palette without being as harsh as black.

If however you want to add a playful facet to your home, you can consider painting your factory windows in a bright colour. Sunny yellow and shades of blue are excellent options that will add a happy element to your space.

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

Pencil Shavings to Paper Flowers

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

About a week or so ago, while browsing through VISI Magazine‘s weekly newsletter, I came across the amazing, unusual work of Haruka Misawa. The little floral images were eye catching, but were it not for the fact that I stopped to read what he said, I don’t think I might have been as awe struck by his work as I am.

This is what stopped me in my tracks: “Sharpening my pencil, the pencil shavings presenting an arrestingly beautiful form. Curled up in a ring-shaped crown, they looked like the petals of a flower. This kind of personal experience becomes the source of my ideas,” he explains.

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

The Mind of an Artist:

That then is the musings and working of an artistic mind. A mind that goes where mine would not even begin to think of going. He looked down at regular shavings coming out of pencils beings sharpened, and he saw a form of floral art to be explored. WOW!! I wondered at that moment if  I would have seen the potential of a floral art form in mere pencil shavings? I think not. In fact, I know not.

It is for this reason that we are sharing this “different type of art” with you today.

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

Pencil Shavings to Paper Flowers:

Haruka, taking inspiration from his pencil shavings, decided to recreate the same effect but with paper. He used many layers of paper, some graduating in colour, to created a tight cylindrical roll of multicoloured paper – a “paper pencil” so to speak. He then sharpened the paper cylinder with an ordinary pencil sharpener just as one would a normal pencil. The resulting shavings transforms into a beautiful and delicate paper flower, no more than 15mm to 40mm in diameter. On closer inspection one can clearly see the various coloured paper layers.

“Depending on how you sharpen it, the shavings may be thick and heavy, or so thin as to be almost transparent, so you can’t make the same flower twice,” Haruka explains. “Each Paper Flower will bloom quietly and softly on your desk.”

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

[Images via Haruka Misawa]

Decorex Cape Town 2016: An Unpopular Opinion

Quick note of indemnity – this is a longer than usual read. Wanna run over to the kettle to make a cuppa quickly? Otherwise – here we go.

Decorex-Cape-Town-2016

The 2016 Decorex Cape Town Expo happened in the beginning of May. To be honest, I have been dragging my feet since then to write my report back on it. However, a survey that I have just completed with feedback to the organizers of the Expo has jerked me out of my state of numbness. I wanted to take my time in this post, allowing what I experienced at the Expo to integrate properly so that I could write this article from a place of sincerity. I don’t really want to give negative feedback or get into that hyper judgemental and critical space. What would that benefit anyone?

So, very briefly, Marica and I were not wildly enthusiastic about attending the Decorex Expo. I guess our experience of it over the past 2 years is what was at the heart of this reluctance. We were however, offered the opportunity to attend as members of the Trade, and I felt we should go have a look-see.

Expectations versus Reality:

A few realisations have subsequently dawned on me. There is no doubt in my mind, that when you go to the exhibition under such a cloud of negative expectation, that is exactly what you get. During the time we walked the Expo, my disappointment just took on larger proportions, so much so that I lost sight of some of the “loveliness” that was actually happening around me. It is all wrapped up in a neat little parcel labelled ‘Expectations & Desires”…

Decorex is NOT Design Indaba:

Expectation/Desire Number 1: Expecting Decorex to be comparable to Design Indaba Expo (sadly that expo died an untimely death in my view). This particular Decorex Expo made it quite apparent to me, that they were two different animals. Decorex seems to have morphed into more of a Lifestyle Expo, while Design Indaba was a very pure design-orientated expo. My earliest and past experiences of Decorex were that of being more interior design & decorating orientated.

Show Me Something New:

Number 2: The desire to see new trends on display, new products that we haven’t encountered before and fresh creative talent showing off their craft… all went unanswered.

Out-Of-The-Box Interiors, Please:

Number 3: A desire to see a greater variation of experienced creative talent and designers, revealing unique interiors – showing how it can be done.

There is more, but I will stop at this point.

Striding out of the CTICC under this cloud of disappointment, I somehow felt that it was my expectations that was the root of my disappointment rather than the Expo itself. I decided to rather turn this around into a more positive take away. Slowly I recounted those exhibition stands that did make an impression on me. Those that remain top of mind are:

Some Decorex 2016 WOW Factors:

Decorex-Cape-Town-2016-(7)

Mr. Price Home: Wow, I think that I might well have awarded them for their display. They took the winter theme and ran with it. Included were many contemporary decorative elements, which were set out in such an inspiring, easy to read, replicable way. All very affordable at that. Let’s face it – Mr. P Home’s retail store layouts are anything but inspiring. Functional – yes, but inspiring – no! Guess that is why they took me totally by surprise.

Decorex Cape Town 2016 (3)

Naturally, because I am a huge fan of colour and Plascon Spaces / Colour Forecast, I was enamoured by their stand. Nothing short of total eye pleasure and delight. They tell the story of trending colours effortlessly.

Decorex Cape Town 2016 (4)

 

While on the matter of colour, the other striking colourful display was the 100% Design South Africa preview called Picture Africa at the 100% Textile pavilion. The vibrant African textile designs with its African Pop Culture flavour were stunning. That ticked the “new and fresh” box for me. I hope it gains huge traction so that the visual effects that South Africans designers can produce will spread far and wide.

Decorex Cape Town 2016 (2)

The other big “wow factor” at the Expo was the incredibly well designed kitchen from The Kitchen Studio. The kitchen was unlike what I have encountered before (possibly, because we have not been into too many kitchen designs of late). Inspirational stuff indeed.

Milestone Kitchens - Kitchen in a Cupboard

Milestone Kitchens was another in the kitchen genre that stood out. They manufacture compact kitchens, aptly named “Kitchen in a Cupboard“, for small studio spaces. I believe that this company has identified a growing niche market, since apartments are being built smaller and smaller. Plus the price tags were do-able, so you are sure to get a bang for your bucks. Milestone Kitchens even won the “Best Innovative Product” award for their Kitchen in a Cupboard at Cape Town Decorex 2016.

Of course, there were many other exhibitors, but somehow they just did not manage to stand out in the crowd. Ultimately, for me that is the defining factor that makes a difference. There are huge numbers of feet that go through the Expo. It is so crowded in there that sometimes even the well-known designers and producers get lost in the crowd.

Decorex Cape Town 2016 (1)

Dorothy Van Der Riet was one such. I was so looking forward to seeing this well-known Jozi Interior Designer’s work. It was however too crowded and what I saw did not impress. I was expecting vibrant and unique from her. Maybe I would have been impressed had I been able to move in closer. On the other hand, that defeats the “MAKE A STATEMENT!” objective. FIRST IMPRESSIONS DO COUNT.

Decorex Has a Strong Commercial Vibe:

That said, there are some that stayed top of mind for the wrong reasons. Most of the Man Caves were completely uninspiring, lacked innovation and creative dynamics. It was too commercially driven me thinks. There was also a much bigger than normal art display, but largely it was a commercial for my taste. As a designer, it just does not inspire.

I believe that the public should be exposed to a far larger variety of decorated exhibition stands, less commercial stuff and more design stuff. What about Decorex reeling in some interior designers and decorators to present various contemporary interpretations of a variety of interior styles. Interpretations, which will leave the viewer feeling that the pages of the décor magazines are being experienced in real time.

This year saw the talented Mr. Adriaan Lochner doing just that by showcasing a beautiful blue and white interior scene of what I term “the Condé Nast Home Interior Style” – contemporary, yet timeless and classical. It is something he does almost effortlessly and so well. However, Decorex CT has seen that kind of interior before. I want more! I want different! I want edgy and unique.

There is a market out there is filled with a new generation of buyers and clients that needs to be catered for more vigorously. The money power is changing hands as we speak. The baton is being passed over to the 30 something’s. The exhibitions should be an answer to their interior needs.

Cape Town Needs a Trade-geared Design Show:

I feel that unless design and lifestyle exhibitions in Cape Town gets a bit more edgy, we are going to go stale, remain stuck in what is current, instead of being ahead of the game. We lack that edgy Jozi energy and going stale without even knowing it, happens in a blink of an eye for Cape Town. After all, we are known for being chilled – bit to chilled maybe. We have HUGE design talent and amazingly forward-thinking creatives in Cape Town – there is no need for exhibition staleness to set in.

Other than the weak Homemakers Expo, Decorex is basically all that we have left in C.T. in terms of design and lifestyle exhibitions. We have to remember that expos act as a vibrant point of reference to the buying public. We need less same ole, same ole, and more edgy, vibey and entertaining interiors scenes.

So, by all accounts, it seems that I will have to take myself off to Jozi in order to experience something that may come closer to my expectations and desires. I am thinking of doing Inspire Trade Show, as well as Rooms on View.

Images via Decorex Facebook Page.

Did you pay Decorex Cape Town 2016 a visit? What did you think of it? Were you delighted, dazzled and entertained? Or were you disappointed?

Trend Alert: Black Metal

By Marica

For every action there is a reaction. I especially believe this is true in interior design and home décor trends. We often find that certain trends or fads are answers on, or extensions of, a previous trend or style movement.

Once the trend reaches the retailers’ shelves, a process that can take ages particularly in the slow-moving South Africa retail market, you know it’s hot.

Black Metal Is the Hottest New Interior Trend:

If you have been watching your Pinterest and Instagram feeds I’m sure you would have noticed a strong influx of black. It started as a trickling steam and now it is a raging torrent. We found the introduction of “black metal” especially interesting.

Bloesem Design Blog even included black metal into their 2016 décor trends round-up article: “5 Interior Trends to Get into This 2016”.

My inspirational boards are saturated with Industrial-styled black metal pipe tables, black hardware – like handles and hinges, black metal pendant lights, and of course, my absolute favourite – gorgeous black factory windows. I might even give factory windows a “Trend Alert” of its own…

Black Metal Is a Continuation of the Industrial Style:

This Black Metal décor trend can easily be an extension of the Industrial Style interior trend and an answer to the stark white of Scandi Minimalism.

Two years ago we sourced a stunning Industrial-styled black metal display cabinet for one of our client. At that stage, we haven’t seen anything like it before and we were absolutely in love with its uniqueness. It made for a powerful statement piece in our client’s dining room, the interior of which was featured in the April issue of Home Magazine. Little did we know then that black metal would become a thing.

The Use of Black Metal Accessories in Kitchens & Bathrooms:

From the examples we have seen, Black Metal seems to be most popular in kitchens and bathrooms. Black has even been described as “the hot new colour” for kitchens this season. Black fixtures, like faucets, are used all the more to create an attention-grabbing feature. That is if you are brave enough.

The black accents, often in a matte or satin finish, are dramatic and undeniably masculine. Black has always been chic and sophisticated. I find it incredibly sleek and sexy (yes, I just referred to an interior element as “sexy” – and no, it is not weird).

Colours to Pair with Black Metal:

We most frequently see interiors where black metal has been paired with white to create the ultimate dark vs. light contrast. However, I quite enjoy spaces that feature black metal elements with the addition of bright pops of colour like yellow, red or turquoise. The introduction of a warm textured wood or paired with a hot metal like copper or brass also creates beautiful contrast.

Turns out black is the new black…

Milan Furniture Fair 2016: Deluxe Design Expo

Attending the MILAN FURNITURE FAIR is every interior professional’s dream come true. The Crème De La Crème of European Fairs.  For some local SA Designers and Trend Forecasters this is simply an annual occurrence. By my assumption, that would probably account for about 5 – max 10% of local designers. For the rest of the 90% of the profession, it is one of those must do in this lifetime events.  Marica and I being in that latter number. BUT – I have decided:  I am putting a trip for two on the bucket list for the two of us (vision board stuff).

In the meantime, let’s take a look at how the “other half live’.  This is more of an ‘Aspirational’ post than anything else. Something like reading through the “Vogue” magazine would be considered aspirational.

If you thought that Design Indaba was where the hoards of people go, then think again. The video will reveal the reason for this Furniture Fair’s popularity.  The quality and standard is just amazing. Watching this video, seeing all the incredible designs, textures, the shapes, the finishes which are a feast for the eyes, just had my blood tingling!! ENJOY.