DI2016: Emerging Creatives – Part 1

It’s still all things Design Indaba 2016 here at The Design Tabloid.

And a quick little indemnity here: This is a longer than normal read, please bear with me.  South Africa is loaded with talented creative folk – that has always been the belief of The Design Tabloid.  Our philosophy from the outset has been to use this blog as a platform to reveal these creatives not only to the locals in SA, but further afield. Design Indaba affords us this opportunity and we take advantage of it, to share with our readers.

Design Indaba 2016: Emerging Creative #DI2016

I attended the launch of the 2016 Emerging Creatives at the V & A Watershed.  I must say, it takes a bit of doing to get my head around these Creatives being presented outside of the Expo environment. It seemed a little drab by comparison. Yet, despite that nothing could take away from the standard and quality of the creatives that were featured this year. The upside of this different venue was that I had time enough to absorb the exhibited works, which was previously something of a struggle in the crowded Expo Hall.

The Class of 2016 are serious contenders in the world of design. Since there are quite a number of Creatives it is always so very difficult to give all of them mention in our review. As they are to be found among the few selected Exhibitors, is credit indeed to them. That already sets them apart from the herd.  For this reason alone, I have decided to work in categories and present you with some of each category. Marica and I have always used this criterion “What and who made a lasting impression on us.” Those are the ones to be featured here. Naturally this is quite a subjective way of doing things, but then that is what blogging is all about.

However, before I launch into my “first impressions peeps” I just want to add that I stand in awe of these young, emerging creatives.  Being a creative business person, I know that it take resolve, faith in your product/service, money and risk to get out of the starting blocks.  Along come these young creatives, put their money and trust into their talents, take the risks and put their products out there for all to view. Long may their business spirit and ventures last and kudos to them.

Being so entrenched in the world of interiors, I am naturally drawn to any piece of Object‘d Art, furniture, fabric or image without much effort.  This year however, I have to confess that I was drawn to a fashion creative, cultural explorer, followed by an illustrator.

LACED by Dhiantha Achary:

First up (probably because I am such a sucker and fan of sneakers or as locally known – tekkies) a young lady by the name of Dhiantha Achary.  She has taken her artist skills and applied it onto casual footwear. Yes – I know that the branded sneakers are out there. Nevertheless, the kind of hand-crafted, customised footwear pattern she creates, gives the unique flavour. Her brand is called LACED.  Her business started out as a way to create unique gifts for select family and friends. However, as the popularity of her shoes grew so did her orders. She tells me that each shoe takes at least 9 hours to paint. Wow!  Dhiantha is developing new strategies on how to collaborate with other artists on the LACED project and expand the business to incorporate more than footwear. I say – You Go Girl! All the best going forward!

Find LACED on:  Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

+NESS by Max Melville & Jamil Randera:

Have you ever been completely drawn in by the subject matter of an exhibition stand you were viewing? Well that is how I felt when approaching the work of Max Melville & Jamil Randera. Their work falls into the Illustrations category (for me anyway). The name of their brand is +NESS. Quirky hey!

This splurb on the Design Indaba website says it best: “The project and its artworks present an array of architectural projects that help define the skylines, culture, and history of South African cities. Accurately drawn facades of different buildings are paired with unique colour schemes to express their particular character and context and ultimately uncover each building’s essence, charm, and ‘+NESS’. Displayed together, the collective body of work reveals the ‘+NESS’ of our cities.


Again – these images / artworks, so beautifully illustrating our local iconic buildings and culture, so did it for me. I could easily include their works of art into any relative interior project that we undertake.

Find +NESS on:  Instagram

Totamma by Galerekwe Maimane:

The third creative that attracted me was the work of Galerekwe Maimane, in the category Multi Media Design. She is an aspiring film director whose body of work is inspired by irrational fears and insecurities. Her exhibit held my attention the longest. I could not pull myself away from the film on view. This is probably because the diversity of cultural practises and heritages throughout South Africa appeals to me. The digital project is named “Totamma”.

Galerekwe had this to say about the project: “This is about exploring African identity and culture. An attempt at undressing nuanced and complex experiences not unpacking them. It currently consists of a YouTube series ‘then/now’, plus a companion book called ‘U+’ and can be accessed from www.totamma.co.za…”  If this is your kind of interest, then go take a peek for yourself.

Find Totamma on:  Youtube  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Website

Okay – so this was Part 1 of a possible 3 instalments. What do you think of these creatives? Tune in again next week for Part 2.

Cheers for now all.

Design Indaba FilmFest 2016

I’m a little put off by myself. You see, my head was so in the clouds last week that I completely missed the start of the Design Indaba FilmFest last Thursday. Now I have snoozed through all the films I really wanted to see.

Like last year Design Indaba teamed up with The Labia Theatre, Cape Town’s oldest independent cinema, to present the annual Design Indaba FilmFest from the 11th to the 20th of February. Ten days, ten movies to inspire and entertain you.

There were three features, two doccies and one movie, I was dying to see. Two of those have already been screened (sad face). Fortunately, Design Indaba has saved the excellent options for last. Here are some of the films you can still attend before the event closes on the 20th…


Anomalisa, directed and produced by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, is a stop-motion animated film that tells the story of a downcast self-help author’s unexpected encounter with a telesales girl.

Dubbed “the most human film of the year” in 2015, Anomalisa presents a world where everyone is identical from the perspective of the protagonist, Michael Stone. Every character, including Stone’s wife and son, has the same face and the same voice until he meets a seemingly ordinary women who he perceives to be extraordinary, an anomaly. The story unfolds as Stone’s cynical perspective on his mundane life starts to change.

Anomalisa will be screened as part of the FilmFest on the 20th of February. Book your ticket: here.

Very Semi-Serious:

Described as “quick-witted treat” by the Hollywood Reporter, Very Semi-Serious takes a behind the scenes look at one of America’s most established publications, The New Yorker, which is known for iconic and often controversial cartoons.

Directed by Leah Wolchok, the documentary film looks at the cartoons that “make the strange familiar, or the familiar strange,” and the cartoonists who make it happen.

They succeeded in many aspects of the newspaper, which now includes fiction, journalism, and cartoons that poke fun at the sections of society who “take themselves too seriously”, says Wolchok.

Very Semi-Serious will be screened as part of the FilmFest on the 18th of February. Book your ticket: here.

The Infinite Happiness:

The Infinite Happiness is a feature-length documentary by filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lamoine. The film follows them as they spend 21 days in and among the apartments and tenants of the “8 House”.

The two explore, investigate, interview and experience the lives of those living and working in this postmodern dwelling.

The “8 House” is a mixed-use housing development in Ørstad, Copenhagen desinged by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Shaped in the figure 8 it mixes residential and commercial and office space in what Ingels describes as “Architectural Alchemy”. Bjarke was a speaker at the 2012 Design Indaba Conference which I was lucky enough to attend. The “8 House” was one of the projects I spoke about – it was immensely inspirational.

The Infinite Happiness will be screened as part of the FilmFest on the 18th of February. Book your ticket: here.

If you want to take a peek at the FilmFest program or you want to book tickets, see the Design Indaba website: here.

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2016 Finalists!


It’s our great pleasure to present the much-anticipated Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) 2016 finalists. Featuring a mixed bag of finalists including film, fashion and photography, the MBOISA finalists were nominated by a variety of South African design journalists and cultural commentators. 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.


“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


Interestingly, this year, MBOISA will be a travelling exhibition.  The Most Beautiful objects will be venturing to every part of the nation beginning at Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg, then Gateway Mall in Durban, and ending at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The general population can vote in favour of the piece they feel signifies South Africa “beauty” best – that is, in whatever way you choose to interpret the concept of beauty.

Voting closes 19 February at noon. You can vote online or by SMS – see links below.

{Go to the Design Indaba website (here) for a full description of each finalist’s design and to vote!}

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

{click on image to enlarge}

{All info and images via Design Indaba}

A Bohemian History

I have always been an admirer of the semi-chaotic, colourful and creative Bohemian Style, both in fashion and interiors.

Evelyn NesbitRose and I recently had an interesting discussion on the origins of today’s Bohemian Style. We both wondered why, in contemporary usage, the term “Bohemian” pertains to people who live unconventional, usually artistic or intellectual, lives.

Bohémien was a common (yet inaccurate) term for the Romani or “Gypsy” population of France. They were mistakenly thought to have reached France via Bohemia when in fact they are said to have originated in India, arriving in Europe roundabout the 13th century. Perhaps this explains the Indian flavour in Bohemian design?

Historically persecuted, the travelling Romani people are often associated with poverty, crime and perceived antisocial or inappropriate behaviour. Even today they are the victims of unwarranted discrimination and are made to feel unwelcome.

Which begs the question – if they were so unwanted and disliked, why are we so fascinated with them and why do we emulate their fashion and style? And how on earth did this word come to describe the poor artists of Paris in the nineteenth century?

The term Bohemianism first emerged in the early nineteenth century during a time when financially struggling artists, writers and musicians began to populate the lower-rent, lower class, Romani neighbourhoods of France.

Many artists were frustrated by the confines of the stodgy and small-minded bourgeois middle-class life which focused largely on propriety and conformation.

The care-free vagabond lifestyle and merry poverty of Romani people captured the imagination of these discontented artists. Many writers and artists of the time romanticised the concept of living below the breadline and suffering for ones art.

Rebelling against social and cultural norms, the artist now found freedom in living eccentric, flamboyant and, sometimes, sexual promiscuous lives. New emphasis was placed on creativity and individual expression not only in their work but also in the way they dressed and lived – often unfashionable, threadbare and bright.

People likened the new artistic types to wandering Gypsies and so the Bohemian counter-culture was born – indicative of a lifestyle rather than a nationality.

Over the last century or so the spirit of this style has seen a few revivals and reincarnations. There have been several Bohemian movements, from the Beatniks of the 1950s to the free-love Hippies of the 1960s & 70s.

Fazio's Mistress painted by Pre-Rapaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1863.
Fazio’s Mistress painted by Pre-Rapaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1863.

What about the Bohemian “style”?

While the non-conformist spirit of the movement stayed much the same, many contributed to outward appearance of the Bohemian Style we know today. Throughout the 20th century many adopted Bohemianism in some way or form and each left his or her unique stamp on the Bohemian aesthetic.

The Pre-Raphaelite movement for instance, transferred a measure of their fascination with medieval folklore to the Bohemian Style. Their work was often dreamy, romantic and mystical, filled with yearning. In fact Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, came to be seen as the “grand prince” of English bohemianism.

Another famous Bohemian, William Morris father of the Arts and Craft Movement, had a profound influence on interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics and furniture.

Then there were bohemian sirens like Dorelia McNeill, muse and model for the Welsh artist Augustus John, who further popularised the Bohemian lifestyle and fashion.

Dorelia’s step-granddaughter, 1960s bohemian fashion icon, Talitha Getty was famously enamoured with Marrakesh. I wonder if Talitha’s love for all things Moroccan is the reason why Bohemian interiors have such a strong Moroccan flavour today?

Then came the swinging sixties – a true re-embodiment of the French Bohemian movement of old. Just as Bohemians used art and writing, hippies used their distinct music to rebel against authority and define a whole generation.

Hippies borrowed many of their fashion ideas from the Parisian Bohemians and gypsies of the Czech Republic. The hippies of course put their own spin on the Bohemian style often incorporating non-Western elements. Native American, Asian, Indian, African and Latin American motifs were very popular.

Amazing to think all these various people, movements and elements contributed to the eccentric and colourful Bohemian Style we know today.

Next week we will share some tips and tricks on creating the perfect Bohemian interior – so stay tuned…

Currently Working On…

logoIf you have been wondering why we here at Design Monarchy have been so quiet as of late, it is because we are hard at work on a rather large interior design project…

Our studio is currently working on an upmarket retirement complex in Kenilworth, Cape Town called “Summerley Court”. Those of you who follow us on Facebook have no doubt noticed all the recent image uploads of the work in process.

There is nothing more rewarding than to see months of designing, planning, sourcing and problem-solving finally come to life on site.

We often prefer to have our furniture custom made instead of buying something off the floor. This way we can customize the furniture piece to perfectly fit with the look and feel of our designed space. It also affords us the opportunity to use our own sourced fabrics, an element that ensures an entirely unique item and interior.

Early on in the project we set about finding an appropriate fabric scheme – our client wanted something bright, colourful and friendly. We then started playing around with furniture concepts – finding items that we liked, adapting them and then finally applying our chosen fabrics to the design.

Our furniture concepts for the Summerley Court dining room chairs (on the left) and the bar dining chairs (on the right).

It is very important to find a reliable and proactive team that can work with us to bring our ideas and concepts to fruition within the allotted time and budget.

One of the custom furniture manufacturers we had the pleasure of working with on the Summerley Court project was ASCOT Upholstery. Rose and I do not dole out compliments lightly, but working with Michelle and her ASCOT team was such a joy we thought they deserve special mention.

ASCOT made the majority of our dining room chairs as well as some comfy seats for the bar area and the meeting room chairs. An aspect that really impressed us was that they were in constant communication with us throughout the manufacturing process. If there was any problem, question or suggestion Michelle didn’t hesitate to give us a quick call to hash out solutions. They delivered on time and in budget. AND of course, the chairs were beautiful made. We have received numerous complements from those who have seen the chairs on site.

Thank you very much to ASCOT Upholstery for delivering such quality work!

In the weeks to come we will be sharing more juicy details and pics of our Summerley Court project. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on this spot!

Design Monarchy - Cape Town Interior Design (4)A quick snap taken at the ASCOT workshop. Here the ASCOT team is hard at work making the chairs that will find a home in the Summerley Court meeting room.

Design Monarchy - Cape Town Interior Design (3)Signed, sealed, delivered! The Summerley Court dining chairs standing in proud little rows on site ready to be unwrapped and positioned.

The finished product – from concept to completion – our beautiful chairs made by ASCOT Upholstery.

Can You Do Minimal Interior Living?

One of my favourite design blogs, and has been for about 5 years now, is Design*Sponge. What I appreciate most about D*S is that it is written for the man in the street. The homes and spaces that are featured are not styled to the nth degree before they are photographed, to make them look picture perfect. No – the featured interior décor and design is for everyday living. Just a quick P.S. here – everyday living however, does not amount to ordinary living. You encounter some extra-ordinary & unique interiors.

What makes these interior spaces extra-ordinary and unique? The very fact that they reflect the personalities, values and characters of their owners. Probably the most important element in any home or office space. After all, Home is where the Heart is!!

True Minimalism
A true Minimalist interior – stark linear lines, minimal furniture and décor, neutral colour palette, and a focus on architectural features and hard finishes.

However, one article in particular recently grabbed my attention and got the mind chatter going. Particularly the whole matter of keeping “stuff to a minimum” which it seems is the creed of the owner. De-cluttering is her business, so it was grand to see her apply her values into her own interior space. As I looked at the images of her house, I was struck by the fact that it is so vastly different to what we had come to know as “Minimalist Style” since way back. True Minimalism, where the lines were linear, the furniture more along stark contemporary lines, and the predominant colours were grey and neutrals.

So much of that type of Minimalism is still to be found dominant in European homes. Maybe just a little bit more upbeat than before – furniture and other interior décor elements are kept to an absolute minimum, while the over-arching features are to be found in the interior hard finishes – such a wood cladding etc.

New Minimalism

New Minimalism (2)
The “new” Minimalist home of minimalists Cary and Cam Fortin. Cary has been able to train herself to live with less while still maintaining a truly personal and layered abode.

But, this lady was presenting me with a new kind of Minimalism – a home filled with pattern, plants, retro furniture pieces, loads of colour and textures layered into her home, while still being true to her ideals of living with less.

Which just proved to me – it can be done. You can have minimalism without sacrificing layering and textures. It is being done.

Nip over to the article (here) and challenge yourself by asking yourself the question: Could you let go of all the stuff you don’t need in your life with a view of allowing some really good features to stand proud? As I sit here – I think I could do it. I could do New Minimalism.

Take note of the article’s last paragraph – it’s poignant:

Far too often the expectations for what is considered “minimalism” are set at an unattainable degree. That’s why I find Cary and Cam’s home so refreshing. It ushers in a new way of perceiving the movement by showing what a contemporary and lively family deems “the essentials.” It also doesn’t hurt when that family has impeccable taste, like these two.

New Minimalism (4)

New Minimalism (1)

New Minimalism (3)

{Images: 1, 2-4, 5}