Creative SA: Zana

Creative SA: Zana

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

by Marica Fick

Today we want to share the gorgeous products of Cape Town-based creative studio, Zana, with you.

Zana produces beautiful screen-printed products – textiles, bags, cushions, and other fashion and home accessories but to name a few of their “giftables”. Their trendy graphic designs are bold and fun with a definite Scandi flair.

“We love to create things that pack a punch and give you that hair-blowing-back, confetti-bomb experience. We are in love with colour, pattern and typography. This is really what gets us inspired.”

– ZanaRead More »

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Block & Chisel

Creative SA: Block & Chisel

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

by Marica Fick

The South African creatives we want to share with you today are very special indeed. Block & Chisel is celebrating an extraordinary milestone this year. 2017 marks the furniture and homeware company’s 30th anniversary – which is no small achievement for any business. They are one of the few local creatives who have built their business into a powerful, recognised local brand. One might even call them a furniture and decor dynasty.

We here at Design Monarchy hold Block & Chisel and their founders, Lynn & Sibley McAdam, in very high regard. The way in which they have developed and grown their product range over the decades is admirable.

The husband and wife team first began this journey after Lynn sold Biggie Best. With Lynn’s eye for beautiful pieces together with Sibley’s passion for restoring antiques and crafting fine furniture, Block & Chisel was born. The past 15 years has seen Block & Chisel welcome the McAdams’s son and daughter into the fold.

I, as a relatively “green” designer, love when Rose, who has been in the South African decorating industry for decades, enlightens me on the history of certain creatives and local design-related businesses. Block & Chisel is such a business – Rose can distinctly remember when they first opened their doors in 1987. Now 30 years later they own multiple successful shops.

Block & Chisel fills a very distinctive niche in the furniture and decorative accessories market. Their flavour is distinctly upmarket. They manage to create this delicious mix of eclectic, luxury, traditional but also contemporary, trendy yet timeless, oh-so-chic elements.

While Block & Chisel has their fingers firmly on the global interior trend pulse, they stay rooted in the company’s slightly colonial foundation which is evident in their classic French and English Country ranges.

Sibley first introduced these designs in the early years and to this day, it still forms the backbone of the Block & Chisel product range. In recent years more contemporary designs have been added. Lynn expertly accents these locally manufactured pieces with carefully chosen treasures to create an overall eclectic flair.

It is always such a treat and sensory experience to visit Block & Chisel in Diep River where we often shop and source for our clients. Not only does the showroom smell amazing, it is also filled with layer upon layer of the most beautiful furniture and decorative accessories. The showroom layout and various room settings tell such a wonderful decorative “story”.

We believe the key to Block & Chisel’s success (other than their visionary and talented owners) is longevity. Longevity, not only in their product ranges, but also in their business model. They keep evolving and reinventing to cater to their chosen market. And that is what we appreciate most about Block & Chisel.

Be sure to check out the Block & Chisel to see their full range of furniture & decorative accessories.

You can also follow Block & Chisel on FacebookInstagram, Twitter & Pinterest.
trend alert: blush

Trend Alert: Beautiful Blush Pink

By Marica

If you have been watching your Pinterest and Instagram feeds I’m sure you would have noticed a strong influx of soft and gentle pinks. And, just to be clear, when we say “pink” we are not speaking of a candy-coloured baby pink or a bold fuchsia. Oh no, we mean gorgeous shades of blushdelicate and warm with an almost “skin” like or “nude” undertone. So subtle a colour it is almost bordering on a neutral.

I have to admit this trend alert comes to you a little belatedly. However, Rose and I are so taken with this colour that we could not let the opportunity pass to share it with you. I suppose one thing that works in our favour is that trends take so long to reach retail level – it seems once the general public notices a trend and sees it on the shop shelves, it is almost old news online.

This gorgeous colour trend is another gifted to us by the fashion industry – think pretty barely-there pink lips, flowing and soft dusty rose fabrics, and stunning nude pink leathers and shoes.

Furthermore, it is not surprising that blush coloured interiors are all the rage as such a pink was Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2016. The lovely pink, called “Rose Quartz”, actually formed part of a colour duo, a first for Pantone. It was paired with “Serenity” – a soft blue.

Blush, while understated, can be quite chic and sophisticated. Even though the colour is soft and strikingly feminine, it is not necessarily fluffy or overly “girly”. Because of its dusty muted undertones Blush can easily be incorporated into a more masculine or gender-neutral interior.

In colour psychology Blush pink signifies tenderness, tranquillity and a nurturing strength. When introduce into one’s interior it can have a very enveloping womb-like and calming effect. It is therefore an excellent choice for spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms or any other areas where you seek comfort and relaxation.

Because of its warm almost-neutral quality, Blush pink falls more into the Winter colour sphere than that of Spring. It works well with greys, whites, and other muted pastel shades like pale sage greens. This rosy colour also looks beautiful when combined with lighter Scandinavian woods and warm metals like copper or rose gold.

If you are afraid of creating an excessively feminine space, use a more neutral colour as a base and only incorporate Blush as an accent by way of your decorative accessories.

source: Pompeli

source: Shauntelle Sposto

source: Junebug Weddings  |  photo: Kreativ Wedding

source: Rått & Sanselig  |  photo: Birgit Fausk

source: Rått & Sanselig  |  photo: Birgit Fausk

source: Ikea  |  photo: Sara Danielsson

source: Suite One Studio

source: vtwonen  |  photo: Alexander van Berge

source:  stadshem via gravity home

Season’s Greetings From Design Monarchy

Season's Greetings From Design Monarchy

Wishing all our readers and friends a Merry Christmas and a joyous festive season!

We loved sharing our passion for design, décor and pretty things with you this past year!

Our studio will be closed for business from today, the 15th of December 2016, to Monday the 16th of January 2017. Keep your eyes peeled – next year brings BIG and exciting things!

Have a good one, guys and gals! Design Monarchy out!

Love, Rose & Marica  x x x

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