Creative SA: Leila Fanner - Artist

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.
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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.

Fairy Caravan - Fairy Dolls | via The Design Tabloid

Creative SA: Fairy Caravan

Last week we introduced our new blog series, Creative SA. In this series we will regularly feature South African makers. To kick off our very first Creative SA post we chatted with Capetonian illustrator, crafter, and design entrepreneur Liesl van der Hoven. Liesl is the owner of Fairy Caravan and makes stunning handcrafted toys and décor. 

Since we first interviewed her in 2014, Liesl has truly found her passion and niche which is evident in her growing range of delightfully whimsical handmade dolls. These are no toss-them-later Barbie dolls – they are future keepsakes – each unique in their own way and beautifully made…

Fairy Caravan - Fairy Dolls | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  Tell us a little more about your pillow friends. I believe that each animal friend has his or her own story?

A:  The sleepy pillow friends initially started with the idea of creating an animal character to depict each of the four temperaments from ancient Greek theory. I wanted to create characters with distinctly different personalities, because I have found that knowing the personality of each character makes it easier to write stories about them. They almost become “real” in my mind when I’m thinking about them, and I know how they will react in different situations.

I chose the four temperaments simply because four felt like a manageable number of different personalities to start with. I have since expanded on the idea when making the four different dolls and fairy dolls. For instance when I was doing research for creating the fairy dolls, I also discovered that each of the four temperaments correspond to the four elements Air, Fire, Water and Earth. I brought the colours of these elements into the illustrations I did for each fairy’s fabric banner.

Fairy Caravan - Animal Friends | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  You have recently added a few more friends to the fold; can you introduce us to the new additions?

A:  With pleasure! 2016 has been a BIG year in terms of new characters. I started the year by adding three more sleepy animals to the collection. 2015 saw the addition of Kiki the Klipspringer, and this year I also added Fantine Fox, Dana the Dassie and Cara the Caracal. So now there are a total of 8 sleepy animal friends.

In July I introduced three sleeping fairy babies. These are simple little baby dolls available in two different sizes – they look like little babies swaddled in leaves and flower petals. I have been wanting to make a simpler doll since making the larger dolls in 2015 – so very little girls could play with them. They also look lovely as hanging decorations –  each fairy baby has a ribbon loop at the tip of their hat from which they can hang.

I then developed the idea of my dolls a little further, turning them into fairies complete with wings. They are still called Daisy, Poppy, Violet and Lily, just like the bigger dolls, but now they are a little smaller and they are dressed in leaves and petals – and of course they have wings! (I have a story all planned out about how the dolls got turned into fairies which I will share at a later stage.)

Lastly I added a magical unicorn. Ever since making the first dolls I have become fascinated with the possibilities of making two-dimensional illustrations come to life as “real” three-dimensional characters. So I challenged myself with this one. I learned an enormous amount in the process of designing and creating this character.

It’s strange that it didn’t feel like I was being overly ambitious with how many new characters I was creating this year, but looking back on it all now… It feels like I need to go lie down and take a nap!

Fairy Caravan - Fairy Dolls | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  Tell us a bit more about your gorgeous and whimsical handmade dolls. A lot of work must have gone into their creation…

A:  Yes, designing and creating the dolls was a huge amount of work, and it still takes a whole day to create a single doll, as each one is made by hand. But it is SO worth it! I love making them and I am blessed to slowly be building a team of ladies who are helping me to bring these characters to life.

I think that it is important that we teach our children the value of quality handmade goods even when they are very young. We are living in a world that is completely flooded with mass-produced things, and this is definitely true for the toy market as well. Some plastic toys can even be harmful for children, as they release chemicals and gasses over time.

I do an enormous amount of research before I start making anything – from the details of which expression would be best for the dolls to have (neutral is best to stimulate creative play) to the safety of the fabric printing process and inks I make use of. I do this because I believe that there are plenty of people who share my philosophy of putting more thought into what we give our children to play with and what the impact of the making of these products have on society and the environment.

Fairy Caravan - Handmade Dolls | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  I believe you have even designed a pretty range of clothes for the dolls?

A:  To be honest, I did not enjoy designing the doll clothes very much! I realised in the process of designing the clothing patterns that I am first and foremost an illustrator, and that I LOVE sewing and making my characters come alive. There is magic in turning and stuffing a little doll or creature that you have made and watching it come to life.

But teeny tiny little clothes – not so much. I think there is probably scope here to someday collaborate with a fashion designer – someone who loves clothes and designing them a lot more than I do!

Fairy Caravan - Fairy Babies | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  Your fairy babies are ABSOLUTELY adorable. How did they come to be?

A: Thank you very much – I’m so glad you find them adorable! As I mentioned earlier, I basically got the idea of creating a simple baby doll almost as soon as I had made the first, larger Fairy Caravan dolls in 2015. I then put the idea on the backburner while I developed more story ideas. I knew that I wanted the stories to go into a more magical, fairytale-like direction, and I wanted to bring fairies into the story.

So while all of the story ideas were rattling around in my head, I one day realised that the simple baby doll should be a fairy baby! And even though the dolls are fairly simple so that they would be completely safe for a toddler to play with, they had to be beautiful and interesting enough so that even adults would fall in love with them!

I put a lot of detail into the illustrations of these babies and I added interest and dimension with the loose leaf swaddling on the front and by adding a leaf hat.

Fairy Caravan - Unicorn Doll | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  I see that you have penned a cute collection of bedtime stories on your website…

A: The stories are a very important part of what I do. They are my way of adding value to the characters that I create, and also a way to give something back to everyone – whether you have bought something from me or not. I want everyone – and especially as many children as possible, to share in the joy of having a bedtime story read to them, and getting lost in a magical, innocent world.

I have made a promise that I will always continue to share free stories on my website. The story writing has been a bit slow this year because I was creating so many new characters, but I feel that next year my focus will shift to telling more stories.

Fairy Caravan - Handmade Fairy Doll | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  Stories AND beautifully illustrated characters – have you thought about publishing your own children’s book?

A: I have, and it is definitely part of my big plan for 2017. My husband actually made me promise to start focusing on the stories more next year after I completed the unicorn! I agree with him that the time for more stories are perfect now that I have such a large collection of characters about which I can tell stories.

I also want to make more time for illustration next year – bedtime stories need to have beautiful pictures that go with them!

Fairy Caravan - Handmade Fairy Doll | via The Design Tabloid

Q:  What is next for Fairy Caravan?

A: I am working on a big plan for 2017 to make my dolls and toys more accessible and affordable to more people – and I am not thinking about having anything mass-produced!

The plan is still in the early stages of being hatched, but it involves lots of new stories, there are going to be story videos (little movies featuring my characters) and all kinds of exciting things happening!

At the same time I am working on expanding my team of seamstresses so that we can continue to make each product by hand, but also supply in a growing demand for the toys and dolls.

There is definitely going to be fewer new characters in 2017, but I know myself – I won’t be able to resist coming up with at least one or two…

Be sure to check out more of Fairy Caravan’s gorgeous products on their website. Our international friends can purchase her beautiful dolls on Etsy.

You can also follow Fairy Caravan on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest.

Celebrating a Very Creative South Africa

It is no secret – South Africa is brimming with tremendously talented individuals.

From the time that our blog, The Design Tabloid, was conceptualised back in 2010 it has been our desire to create visibility around the creative essence and power to be found in South Africa. We think of it as unearthing hidden gems to show off to the world at large. Instead of lions roaming our African streets, we have a crowd of dynamic and talented creative designers who are able to take their place on the international stage.

We have done that over the past 6 years and will continue to do so because here at Design Monarchy we are #ProudlySA and honoured to count ourselves among the South African creatives.

It is for this very reason that we have decided to introduce a new and regular blog post series to The Design Tabloid. We have found that like with our other regular features, Decorating Dictionary and Decor Quick Tips, a regular topical series not only creates something to look forward to each week, but is also fun and easily digestible.

Each month we will feature a local South African creative, be that an artist, designer, or something altogether different. Our chosen creatives will range from relatively unknown emerging creators to more established designers. We might even throw in one or two local entrepreneurs who have founded successful design-related dynasties and big business brands.

So, keep your eyes peeled for the first instalment of our “Creative SA” blog series and celebrate South African design talent with us. #CreativeSA

Image: 100% Design South Africa

The New Exciting World of Instagram

We have seen the (Instagram) light:

Okay, so Instagram is not exactly “new” – but it is quite new to us. I read recently that Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform and currently has over 400 million active users. I am proud to say that we here at Design Monarchy are the latest Instagram converts.

We were a little unenthusiastic when we created our Instagram account more than two years. We saw it as just another time-consuming platform we would have to maintain. Now however, we have gotten into the swing of things and I totally see the appeal.

The element I most like about Instagram is that, unlike Pinterest, it is designed in such a way to encourage you to only upload images created by you. You are not re-sharing someone else’s images you’ve randomly found on the net, you are creating your own unique snaps and moments.

We have endeavoured to regularly upload new snaps to our IG account. It will be a work-in-progress, behind-the-scenes peek at what we are doing in our studio and all the interesting furniture, décor and beautiful fabrics we find when sourcing for clients. We have already uploaded some pretty awesome stuff!

Let’s be Instagram friends!

Are you on Instagram? Be sure to check out Design Monarchy’s Instagram account and follow us so we can be IG buddies! We would love to see what you are sharing / uploading too! Find us: here.

Design Monarchy Instagram uploads

Home Magazine April 2016 Cover

Another Amazing Design Monarchy Feature in Home Magazine!

Earlier this month we wrote a blog post, “2015: A Winning Year for Design Monarchy“, about all the exciting projects and experiences we had last year. As mentioned in the post, one of the absolute high points was that Home Magazine / Tuis Tydskrif featured one of our interior design projects, the home of our client Sharon Turner, in the their January issue. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilling it is to see one’s hard work on the cover of a glossy magazine!

Well, call us doubly blessed, because shortly thereafter Home / Tuis once again asked if they could feature another one of our projects. What makes this home extra special and personal is that our client, Michelle Ward, happens to be Rose’s sister! It was such fun working with Michelle. Since we know her so well it was that much easier to put together the perfect interior proposal for her home that catered to her tastes. Michelle wanted bright and happy, colourful and quirky, with just the slightest dash of glamour.

One of my favourite elements in Michelle’s home is the gorgeous hand-painted Moroccan tiles we sourced for the scullery. I can remember spending a good couple of hours in Moroccan Warehouse in Cape Town bent over stacks of tiles to find the perfect tile repeat. Rose also found the cutest potted plants at Typo which along with the Moroccan tiles made for one trendy scullery.

Another feature I loved was the Mid-Century inspired easy chair we had custom made for the living room. It featured the most beautiful, bold, big floral fabric we sourced at Home Fabrics. It is so happy and colourful – a true reflection of the overall interior.

Michelle found a vintage multi-drawer storage unit for her study which Rose and I took one look at and said: “Let’s paint it ombre!” The carcass we painted white and the drawers in graduating shades of yellow. It looks smashing against the quirky white and black polka dot wallpaper in the study.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the April issue of Tuis or Home Magazine see the full feature and beautiful images (page 16-23). Let us know what you think!