Category Archives: Interviews & Features

5 Pioneering Women In Interiors

by Rose McClement

I heard mutterings recently about today being International Woman’s Day, but obviously I wasn’t really paying much attention. I once sat down to examine the international calendar and believe me there are many causes out there that have a day set aside for them.  That, I think, was my subconscious reaction towards this day – until this morning that is.  That is until I went onto Google this morning and took a long look at the women who were being celebrated and acknowledged for their contribution to global society as a whole!

It was then that I decided that we here at The Design Tabloid need to pay tribute to the women who have made their mark in the field of Interiors internationally.  Some of them local gals (since South Africa isn’t so behind the bush in a third world country as some may be tempted to think) and some international ladies. We salute these impressive women for making their mark in the Interiors Profession.

Elsie de Wolfe

While Elsie De Wolfe, also known as Lady Mendl, was not the first ever interior decorator – there were definitely others before her – it is she who is said to have turned it into a valid profession. From her first commission in 1905 to the 1930s, Elsie was without doubt the most well known name in the American interior design / decorating field.

Elsie was quite the interior design revolutionary – a style rebel of her time. She famously detested the Victorian style of her youth which she described as dark and ugly. Instead she opted for lighter and brighter schemes, creating softer and slightly more feminine interiors. Elsie, who preferred the late 18th century French style, also reintroduced the concept of white and light painted furniture. She hated clutter and favoured expanded open living spaces.

In 1913 Elsie authored the widely read book, The House in Good Taste, a collection of writings on interior decoration and practical decorating advice.

Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan – I almost have to say no more than that – has been a household name for decades. She can be viewed as the figurehead of the decorative painting revolution and is internationally recognised as a respected paint and colour expert. The Telegraph even named her as one of “Britain’s most influential female designers.”

Annie unwittingly changed the face of furniture painting in 1990 when she launched her own range of decorative paint. Unable to find the exact paints she desired to work with, Annie used her fine art knowledge of colour, paint, pigments and art history to develop the now renowned Chalk Paint brand. The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint product can be found in over 50 countries around the world and has influenced not only the decorative painting industry, but interior decorating as a whole.

Tricia Guild

Tricia Guild is a British designer and the founder of Designers Guild, an international home and lifestyle company. She is known for her bold and exciting use of colour and pattern.

Designers Guild had its modest birth in 1970 when Tricia was searching for new and exciting textiles to decorate with. She recoloured a collection of Indian hand-block printed textiles, which later became the company’s first collection.

In the past four decades Tricia has grown and expanded Designers Guild into a global homeware and lifestyle empire. Today their product range includes everything from fabrics and wall coverings, to furniture, homeware and even paint.

Tricia has authored 15 books and has been commissioned by the Royal Family multiple times – something which is no small feat.

In 2008 Tricia was appointed an OBE for services to interior design.

Lynn McAdam

Lynn McAdam has been involved in the field of South African interiors for must be well over thirty something years. Lynn and her sister were the founders and creatives behind the Biggie Best brand of the 80’s, a household name in South African retail interiors.

Lynn and her husband, Sibley sold Biggie Best and in 1987, they opened a retail brand, with a new and different type of interior product, namely handcrafted wooden furniture. The shop was called Block & Chisel. Naturally, driven by their passion and business skills, Block & Chisel has become a much desired interior retail store in Cape Town and has expanded to include Loft Living as well as a store in Johannesburg.

Retail interiors is a very challenging field and needs clever and dedicated navigation in order for it to remain a player in the business. Block & Chisel under the guidance of Lynn McAdam has done just that.

Pru Phufl

When Lynn and Sibley McAdam decided to explore other avenues in life, Pru Phufl bought Biggie Best and continued to expand the retail outlets via franchises throughout South Africa. Every major city had a Biggie Best shop.

Pru went on to take the brand internationally via franchises as well, with shops in Europe, Australia and Britain. Pru was awarded the coveted “Business Woman of the Year Award” in 1989 by Business Woman Association of South Africa. Being very hands on person, Pru continued to be involved in the design and development of their range of fabrics, wallpapers and furniture throughout the years.

Although many of the franchise outlets have been reduced, Biggie Best continues their retail and trade business to this day, having survived for near on forty years.  They have managed remain in touch with the flow of interior trends, while retaining their particular flavour / style of interior finishes – Contemporary Country.

To me the secret of their success was to remain an affordable brand – bringing interiors to the middle class people. Making it attainable at a time when interior decorating was a luxury only the privileged of the upper class could afford it, just outside of the reach of the middle class. Oh how times have changed – thank you Pru Phufl for your contribution.

Creative SA: Miche Watkins

Last year we introduced a new blog series, Creative SA. In this series we will regularly feature South African makers.

by Rose McClement

In the spirit of moving forward with this series, I would like to introduce you to another South African artist, Miche Watkins.  Miche and I met online – how that came about I just simply can’t remember.  But you know the story, if you knock around a few online portals long and often enough, you find one another.

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

Since that first time a few years ago we have kept pace with each other via Facebook largely, until Miche visited Cape Town last year, when we had the opportunity of catching up eyeball to eyeball. Although Miche relocated to the UK a few years ago to be close to her family, she lived in Cape Town for a long time. That I think was the glue that formed the bond early in our friendship, the fact that I used to post images of beautiful Mother City and she would respond with great yearning.

I’m not much of an art “knower” or a “knower of art”, but this I do know about myself… I know what art appeals to me. Over the past few years I have exposed myself to more and more artists and in doing so I have come to understand that which appeals to me and that which just goes over my head.

The question then is what is it that appeals to me about the body of work that Miche brings to the world?  It is her particular style of Pop Art-ish line drawings – she only introduces a hint of red or colour that I am simply taken with.  They are funky, contemporary, youthful and more often than not, faceless images.

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

As a decorator finding something that is appealing yet not specific in terms of its image, is a very big draw. Her art can be installed into offices, hotels and residences alike – any space that can indulge a bit of contemporary funk. I see Miche’s art hanging on the walls of some trendy millennial’s apartment or in the room of an edgy teen.

She has recently introduced another element into these clean lined paintings – that of Street Art.  It’s the combination of the street art and line drawings that work for me. Take a look for yourself and you decide if this art appeals to you or not.

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

In closing let me add that I have great admiration for artists who put out their work for the public to scrutinise – possibly appreciate, or possibly criticise.  They are such a brave crowd of creatives. Plus having to market their work in an already overcrowded arena and run it like a business – that takes extra commitment to the cause.

Futher, I know that Miche puts her heart and soul into her paintings as well as her business.  Hats off to her!

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

Her work can be seen and purchased on the online art portal, State of the Art, as well as the bricks and mortar State of The Art Gallery in Bree Street, Cape Town – the heart of our buzzing city.

You can also follow Miche on FacebookInstagramTwitter.

Creative SA: Leila Fanner

Earlier in the month we introduced our new blog series, Creative SA. In this series we will regularly feature South African makers.

For our third installment of the Creative SA series, we will be sharing the beautiful artworks of Leila Fanner with you.

Leila is a painter, illustrator and surface pattern designer who works from her studio in the small town of Riebeek West.

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Similar to Nicole & The Striped Flamingo, the SA creative we shared with you in our previous post, Leila has had her own part in Design Monarchy’s brand evolution. In fact, it is Leila who designed our beautiful company logo in 2012.

Since we first interviewed her four years ago, Leila has placed greater focus on her fine art works – spending much time with paint brush in hand.

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The elements that Rose and I most adore about Leila’s paintings are her bold use of vivid colours in combination with intricate pattern and detail. Her artworks often have a whimsical yet edgy feminine quality with a slight mystical feel.

Leila’s works, while rich in South African flavour, are completely unique. Her striking paintings feature a fresh interpretation on the local imagery and frequently feature South African fauna and flora. Leila also has the rare and remarkable ability to incorporate African elements into her paintings and designs without the usual “Greenmarket Square cheese”.

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Leila will be taking part in the “Summertide” group exhibition this Sunday the 4th of December at The Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel.  Also be sure to check out Leila’s Facebook page as she is currently having a studio sale.

We are also very excited to announce that Leila has gifted us with some of her goreous printed product to dole out as give-away prizes to some of our lucky blog readers. We will be posting all the give-away competition details tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled.

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Want to see more of Leila’s gorgeous artwork? Pop over to her website. Our international friends can purchase her prints and products on Society6.

You can also follow Leila Fanner on FacebookInstagramTwitter.

Creative SA: Nicole & The Striped Flamingo

The next South Africa creative that we will be sharing as part of our Creative SA series, hits quite close to home as she has had a personal hand in the creation of our brand and the look and feel of our website.

Nicole Bruigom is a graphic designer and illustrator hailing from sunny Durban.  Have you ever walked the aisles of a Mr. Price Clothing or Home store and wondered who designed the trendy graphics and quirky doodles you see on the product? Well, the chances are good that it might be Nicole, as creating lovelies for Mr. P is her day job.

When Nicole is not designing for the Mr. Price shelves, she sells her freelance design services under the moniker “Nicole & The Striped Flamingo”.  Upon spotting her quirky whimsy illustrations back in 2013 we immediately fell in love with them and interviewed her for the “Interviews & Features” section of The Design Tabloid.

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Not too long for thereafter, while working on the design of our new Design Monarchy website, we were searching for an illustrator to create some custom graphics for certain pages of our website.  We immediately thought of Nicole as both Rose and I enjoyed her style of illustration and use of colour and pattern. We thought it would perfectly complement our logo, branding and identity, which we perceived as feminine and elegant, yet quirky with a slight vintage flair.

We explained to Nicole exactly what we had in mind and she created the most beautiful illustrations for us. The illustrations consisted of a quirky megaphone for our Home page, a pretty typewriter for our Press page, an old school phone for our Contact Us page, a hipster camera for our Portfolio page, and a toolbox and desk illustration to accompany our Company page. She also redesigned our Design Monarchy “Stamp of Approval” to match and compliment our new branding and graphics.

We were absolutely thrilled with the results and feel that Nicole’s illustrations really “made” our website. Since the launch of the website we have had tons of complements and we have found that visitors to our site find the illustrations had to forget! Feel free to pop over to our website to take a look at the illustrations “in situ”, so to speak.

 

As mentioned in our previous interview, Nicole is also an author. She published “Little Chef”, a quirky illustrated children’s recipe book, in 2010 and it has proved so popular that she released a second edition.

You can also adorn the walls of your home with some Striped Flamingo loveliness, as Nicole designed a range of whimsy wallpapers for Robin Sprong that would be perfect for a children’s bedroom or nursery.

Want to see some of Nicole’s designs in the flesh? If you reside in Joburg, you might want to visit Cafe Hemingways in Kyalami as Nicole has done extensive work for them – everything from the gorgeous murals on the wall to the menus and cake toppers – she even designed a range of postcards for them.

Be sure to check out more of Nicole’s gorgeous illustrations on her website

You can also follow Nicole & The Striped Flamingo on Facebook.

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