Category Archives: Decorex

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:

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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?

Decorex 2012 – Lasting Impressions continued…

Marica likes to use the expression – Sjoe! Well now it is my turn to say – Sjoe, how time flies by. The days are steadily slipping past since Decorex Cape Town 2012. I had better write about my lasting impressions, before they fade completely. Also, before Decorex Gauteng is upon us.

I am glad that we call our articles Lasting Impressions. For me it is reflecting on those exhibits at Decorex that enhanced my experience of the Expo.

Bob & Dan Skinstad’s Man Cave with the creative direction of Aidan Bennetts. Image via http://www.aidanbennetts.co.za

For starters, there was the launch of the Design Team’s latest fabric range. But since we wrote an extensive post on them already, I won’t labour that one. Then I was so impressed by the Man Cave designs as well the fact that part of their mission was to give back to charities. Each exhibitor was connected to either a charitable organisation or drive of their choice. Funds raised via a competition were destined for the respective coffers. Nice!

Loved the Rooftop Terrace Man Cave designed by Yvonne Kramer of Yvonne Kramer Interiors along with soccer player Ryan Botha.

A surf / skate shack man cave – it had funky slogans painted all over the place.

I have to admit having a soft spot for design and decoration of MAN CAVES, and wish that I had more of them to work on. There are a few universal imperatives to be found in a Man Cave – universal because it is not hard to know ‘What Men Want’. A Big screen TV, with all the paraphernalia that comes with it; a flawless sound system; big boys toys such as play stations; loads of memorabilia / objects around their favourite sport; furniture to sloth on, hardwearing fabrics; and then let’s not forget – a bar or space in which to store the drinks while the boys hang together. Fooze-ball, putting green… the list can stretch on and on, but essentially these cover the basics.

Well, as you can see from the images, these Man Caves did not disappoint.

So of the gorgeous foodstuffs at the rustic Hertex Fabrics stand – no wonder it was so crowded! Image via Hertex

Talking about ‘hanging’ with the peeps, one of the highlights for me was running into some fabulous designers that I have hung around with at various times and events over the years in the trade. They all seemed to be found ‘hanging’ around the HERTEX FABRICS stand. Small wonder, Hertex were serving up drinks and eats as if it were about to disappear, with plenty visitors to their rather big stand. Thanks Greg, Natasha, John and Martin for being such cool people to hang with.

One of the massive striped beanbags from Nomad Beanbags – would love to sink into this one. Image via Nomad Beanbags

Image via Nomad Beanbags

James Russell launched his latest fabulous product – the multipurpose NOMAD BEANBAGS made in his own range of durable fabrics. His tag line for this product reads: “Handmade in Cape Town to travel the world”. Good luck with this venture James!

The bright and cheery In House Furniture stand.

IN HOUSE FURNITURE told the story of how bright, bold, beautiful retro fabrics can be combined with contemporary linear furniture. This combination showed just how effectively these two styles can compliment each other.

The gorgeous mid-century modern Skinny laMinx & Space for Life stand. Image via Skinny laMinx

The fabrics of SKINNY LAMINX and the original Mid-Century Modern furniture of Stefan Frylinck from SPACE FOR LIFE worked in such an amazing complimentary way on their shared exhibition stand. The plus-factor was that there was a strong sense of warmth and homeliness around that stand. Stefan actually imports all these original mid-century furniture pieces from the Scandi countries.

Adriaan’s room settings are so beautifully intimate and person! Image via Adriaan Lochner

Don’t you just love the stunning introduction of plant-life into the room setting! Image via Adriaan Lochner

ADRIAAN LOCHNER once again produced an award winning exhibit. He included a soft colour palette of naturals, greys, soft greens (floral), natural textured fabrics, glass and wood etc. I just loved what he put together and as soon as I caught sight of that stand, I knew it was his work. He has this awesome knack of being able to style & group collectable objects effortlessly. His design ‘handwriting’ seems to include the most contemporary yet classic floral displays.

Adored the uncomplicated & trendy installation by James Mudge. It included the most striking ceramics by Lucinda Mudge too. Images via Decorex

In closing, there is the work of JAMES MUDGE that was found in the midst of the Plascon Exhibitions. The ‘Get Real’ and ‘Back to Basics’ theme was evident. In the spirit of keeping it green, he showed us what to expect with the application of simple plywood to produce trendy pieces.

These impressions will stay with me until Decorex Cape Town 2013. What will I see there? Will the upcoming trends be evident and properly interpreted for public appreciation? But in the meantime, well done to the Decorex amazing team and all the behind the scene peeps!

The Dynamic Design Team

I can’t remember exactly when it was that the fabrics of the Design Team first came to my attention, but it was many years ago. I just remember being very impressed by the fact that it was very different to any other local designers I had seen before. Their style and patterns had a strong local influence and flavour. I remember seeing Proteas, head and shoulder medalions of African ladies, birds on branches – all  illustrated so differently to the general run of the mill fabric patterns that we were being exposed to. To me anyway, it was the introduction of a completely new genre of fabrics. (I have no doubt that my good friend James Russell, could correct me on this score, since he has this amazing historical knowledge of fabric… coupled with the fact that he is their agent here in Cape Town.

Through the past years, I have managed to attend most of their new range launches here in Cape Town. Each new range delights more than the previous. Each new range just adds further depth to their collection and each new range has them running ahead of the competition.

And speaking of competition… these are my thoughts and opinions on what the two fabulous ladies from the Design Team, Lise Butler and Amanda Haupt have done for the local fabric industry: The Upside – they were among the very first textile designers (surface designers as they are known as well) that illustrated pattern differently. But like a most trail blazers, they have craved a path for others to follow in. By them braving the frontier and penetrating the fabric market as they have, other talented surface designers could take courage and endeavour to follow suite. The Design Team has shown other creatives that Local is indeed Lekker. That it is possible to get out there, not only to make your talented products visible, but that it could turn into a good business venture as well.

The Downside – in doing this, the field became more competitive. But true to form, they have an awesome philosoply towards competition. To quote them: “We have a ‘no negativity policy’ and we rather wear the copycats out by staying one step ahead with new designs.”

So, competition only has them taking their design to the next level. What I hear is this: competition aids our business maturity, bring it on. And their newest range of fabrics attests to this fact. It was first launched and released at Decorex 2012, together with a very special feature – a video showing their historical background and business growth. The new range, called Barcelona-Paris-Istanbul, is strongly influenced by the duo’s recent visits to these cities. The designs are a beautiful visual representation of the “feel” and ambiance of the cities – more figurative than literal… don’t expect Eiffel Tower sketches or tiny bullfighters…

But I wanted to scratch a bit deeper down, below the skin and try to catch more of their heart beat. I wanted to get to know what made them tick as a Design Duo originally, as well as today. Lisa opened up to The Design Tabloid. I invite you to catch it below and enjoy their story…

Q: I am interested to know, and feel readers should as well, what it is that inspired you to take the bull by the horns and do textile design that was just so different at the time you started? 

A: We really had and still do have a passion for creating beautiful things and we were blessed with very supportive parents and lecturers at the time. Ignorance is truly bliss when you are so young! We had nothing to loose and one thing we have never been is scared! Both Amanda and I had produced work during our studies that were recognized in industry related competitions or projects and I think that this gave us the confidence to believe in ourselves. We are both work horses and still put in 10 hour working days even though they are now split up at times fitting in our children’s schedules! We just have this attitude of not being scared to tackle anything, if you have put everything into it and you have planned well it has a very good chance of succeeding and if not, you will have learnt something from it!

Q: What inspired you both? 

A: To set up a business from scratch and build it into a recognized brand means that you have to “live” it, and I think it is just something that some people have in them and others don’t. Many designers have incredible creativity but lack organizational and entrepreneurial skills – we have an unbelievable partnership that balances each other and offers a support system that has seen us through the many tough times.

Q: What motivated you to be so authentic? 

A: We believe that you need to be honest and unpretentious, so it was easy, we had to do something that was close to us and that we could find some sort of connection with. Only after ten years of having the business did we start traveling overseas, up until then we used magazines to keep in touch with global trends and we always aspire towards designing fabrics that can compete anywhere in the world but is still authentic to our own frame of reference.

Q: How did you manage to finance your venture initially? 

A: Many think that we had a secret source of set up capital! Not at all, we both had waitressing jobs while we studied and this financed our initial raw materials. We lived with our parents for many years to keep our own expenses to a minimum and didn’t take salaries for a very long time. The technikon helped us to pay for the first stand we did at Decorex as it was such good marketing for the textile department and the training they offered. Our moms helped us sew the finished items and we mostly printed and cut everything ourselves for the first few years. Once we had built up enough cash flow, we moved away from the technikon facility we shared with the students and rented a small factory space. Growth was significant and so were the costs! We each took a R50 000 personal loan to finance the next move to a larger factory and 12 years later this has still been the only capital injection we have had! We have built up incredible relationships with some of our clients and many have been willing to help us with advance payments if really needed!

Q: What did you see happening in the South Africa interiors / textile industry that lead you to swim upstream?

A: Everyone was trying so hard to keep up and mimic what was happening globally that they missed the hunger for local inspired textiles that had an international appeal and was not ethnic but more contemporary.

Q: How was your product received initially? What did it take from the two of you in terms of sticking with your plans? 

A: We had an overwhelming response but the trick was figuring out which products would really be viable and then to set up the production line to support it. We are still fine tuning! One of our biggest “assets” has been the ability to analyze what we do and to make changes where we had to, as wells an openness to learn.

I am pretty sure that you will agree with me when I say that Lise and Amanda as the Design Team inspire us to authentic design; to persevere through tough times; to be clever, resourceful entrepreneurs and to be Proudly South African creatives.

Check out Design Team’s website: here for more of their GORGEOUS  fabrics or find them on Facebook: here and on Twitter: here.

Decorex 2012 – Lasting Impressions

Last Thursday saw Rose and I at the Decorex Cape Town Expo. I have to confess – I haven’t been to Decorex since my first year of college, a good 6 years ago. Back then my experience of it was not too inspirational. At that time, I felt that it lacked creativity and was possibly more commercialized than I would have hoped for. I guess it all has to do with expectations.  However, Rose was taken up with last year’s expo so I thought it high time to revisit Decorex and my opinion of it. Being Trade Day and still relatively quiet – we managed to have a good look around.

We started our expo experience on a high note – the launch of Design Team’s stunning new fabric range (more on that later) – and systematically worked our way through all the stalls and exhibitors. Phew, it was quite a lot to take in and now, a week later, I’m struggling to recall all I’ve seen. A few exhibits however are branded into memory and logic dictates that those exhibits are therefore my perceived “highlights”…

One of the most memorable exhibit stands was that of the “Contemporary Country” Trend Installation aimed to be a fusion of rural country spirit and urbanized contemporary style. The bold yellow and chartreuse colour scheme with contrasting dark charcoal and greys was rather a striking sight. This was mixed with loads of texture – gorgeous natural timbers, raw linen, a big knitted ottoman, dainty crocheted throws and dramatic patterned wallpaper.

BOS Ice Tea, a now familiar sight at most South African expos and events, provided some funky refreshment. Their impressive (if somewhat “re-used”) stand which featured big tree-like structures, fake grass, lawn chairs, a very cute refreshments caravan, and LOADS of branding won Best Overall Stand at LAST year’s Decorex in Johannesburg.

We also spotted lots of pretty things in the Cape Craft & Design Institute sector including some amazing Su Wolf & The Big Heart Company cushions and a beautiful old church bench rescued and upholstered by Katie Thompson of Recreate in different textures of linen, hessian, hemp, ticking and leather.

I also thought the Decorex Designer Collection Homeware Range desirable – ceramic, wood, glass and textile items designed by local creatives in white and fresh shades of blues. The pity here is that the exhibit was tucked away in a dark corner…

In retrospect I can’t recall any Decorex exhibitors or installations that enticed public participation and interaction. This is a shame as interaction is such a valuable facet of design. Perhaps in this instance, Design Indaba has spoilt it for me, raising my expectations to the next level, leaving me a bit disappointed…

However, the always forward-thinking design legend that is Porky Hefer did not disappoint – his contribution to the Plascon Colour Forecast 2012 trend installation consisted of massive Weaver’s nest-like structure. Suspended from the roof, it contained cushy seating that begged you to find your inner-child and climb into the comfort and protection of the nest.

So, Decorex… was I once again disappointed? Truth is that despite my past reservations and my mediocre expectations… NO, I was not disappointed! Will I go back next year?  Absolutely! I really enjoyed it and saw lots of pretty things… and you know how much I like pretty things! Anyway, Decorex is on the right track and I’m sure next year will be kicked-up another notch.

 Your thoughts on Decorex 2012? Did you attend? See something inspirational that you liked?

All images copyright of The Design Tabloid

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