Whimsical Nicole Long

We interviewed local freelance graphic designer and illustrator, Nicole Long (aka Striped Flamingo). Her whimsy, vintage, girlie, pastel-coloured illustrations are simply beautiful – it’s right up my street. Don’t be surprised if you find Nicole’s work familiar – she has designed a ton of gorgeous stuff for Mr. Price (lucky Mr. Price)!

Nicole Long - Striped Flamingo

Q:  Tell us a bit about yourself… where you’re from, what you do, any likes / dislikes?

Born in JHB, grown up in Durban. I got my Graphic design degree at Durban University of Technology. I work full time for a Fashion retail store and freelance in my spare time. I love illustration and quirky drawings – my children’s cook book, Little Chef was my stepping stone.

Q:  How did you get into the illustration business? Do you have an art or design background?

I have been drawing and painting since before I can remember and I always knew I’d carry it through in whatever I did.

Q:  Where do you draw inspiration from when designing?

I draw inspiration from everything and anything around me – from food packaging, colours, children,  the outdoors, and even things people say.

Q:  Is there a certain style you admire or aspire to?

I like simple, pretty and hand drawn.

Q:  Could you share your Secret Indulgence with us?

Shopping for my home, furniture and interior design.

Q:   What is your favourite current décor trend?

Aztecs and geometrics in fabrics

Q:  Tell us five things on your Bucket List…

Have my own shop

Holiday in Thailand

Publish more books

Travel Africa

Run comrades

Q:  Do you have a colour that you favour most and why?

Pastel colours, they are soft and refreshing and bring me peace.

Q:  What do you have on your bedside table at the moment?

A bridal magazine, a fineliner, iPod & a white clock from typo

Q:  Future plans?

A few fabric houses are about to stock my fabrics, I’d like to expand my range and get them into more shops.

{Find more of Nicole’s AWESOME work on her blog: Striped Flamingo, or follow her on Twitter: here.}

Skinny laMinx

Heather Moore of surface & textile design company Skinny laMinx chatted to Afrikaans morning show, Dagbreek, last week. Check it this cute little clip where she shares some of the Skinny laMinx story.

BTW – CityMob is having a Skinny laMinx 12-day flash sale. You can buy some awesome Skinny scatter cushions at an absolute steal… it’s selling like hotcakes! See the sale: here.

Handmade By Me…

We would like to introduce you to yet another South African surface designer! We recently chatted to Sera Holland, the talented graphic and textile designer behind Cape Town-based design label “Handmade By Me“. Sera’s bespoke fabric designs has evolved into a full range of awesome products which includes cushion covers, tea towels, napkins and a wallpaper range which launched earlier this year. The most recent addition to the Handmade By Me range is a funky collection of chef and vintage-style aprons – too cute!

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself… any likes / dislikes?  (We understand you’ve been in Ireland for the past 6 years?)

A: Yes I have just moved back home to cape Town after living in Dublin for over 6 years. I like to think I am a pretty easygoing person and I love to spend time with my friends (specially as I have been living away for so long). I love to be outdoors and in the sunshine, or cooking and entertaining at my house. And I am obsessed with anything pretty AND functional! There are a few things I dislike…like olives, raisins, the leafblower guy from outside my old office but it is safe to say that I HATE the Irish weather!

Q: How did you get into the textile design industry? Do you have an art or design background?

A: I have a diploma in design and have been working as a graphic designer for the last 10 years.  I have always wanted to make something functional as well as pretty, instead of working so hard on things I never really got to enjoy after they were done. I found a sweet little course which was all about printing onto fabric by hand using different techniques which I really enjoyed. One of the designs I came up with then was my origami birds but back then I was cutting out each bird individually with a scalpel out of acetate (which is really not easy nor fun) and it looked pretty handprinted and messy too. Being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted to do it right and so began my quest and discovery of digital printing onto fabric. Having the background and expertise in graphics and knowing how to set up artwork it made transition into the textile design side of things very smooth. I have also since then done a course in Textile Design and Print at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin where I learned a lot more about manual printing methods and the fabric side of things.

Q: Tell us a little more about Handmade by Me, where did it all start?

A: When my sister’s wedding came along shortly after my new digital printing discovery, I designed her and her husband a very special fabric design inspired by their obsession with their 3 dogs (see my Barking Mad design). And I learnt to sew so I could give them cushion covers, napkins and 3 doggy bandanas as their actual gift. It really was something handmade by me and so the name stuck. I really want to highlight the bespoke side of what I can do.

Q: And what about your product range… I see you have also recently ventured into wallpaper?

A: Yes at the moment I make cushion covers, napkins and tea towels. And my wallpaper range has just been launched which is really exciting. There are a few other things in the pipeline but what I would really like to point out is that I can really make just about anything. The bespoke side of my business is probably the part that people don’t really know much about. I can custom make other products or different sizes using my current fabrics and I can also custom design something as well.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing? I’ve noticed several of African-inspired designs…

A: I pretty much get my inspiration from just about anywhere. Yes you may have noticed my South African nostalgia coming through with the proteas and strelitzias. Sometimes its a shape I like, or a colour, sometimes I know exactly what I want to do, and sometimes I just want to play around with different elements and see what happens. I would imagine that people probably think I’m pretty bird and flower crazy, but sometimes my designs have more (not so) hidden meanings like the “another rainy day” design which was inspired by the consistently rainy weather and lack of summers I experienced while I was in Dublin.

Q: Is there a certain style you admire or aspire to?

A: I just try to be different from everything else out there. I like all kinds of different styles so I like to explore and experiment! I guess it also just really depends on how I am feeling or the kind of environment I have been before working on an idea. Sometimes I go looking for inspiration and sometimes I just sit and think about things.

Q: Could you share your Secret Indulgence with us?

A: Sadly it’s brie cheese! I. just. can’t. STOP.

Q: Tell us five things on your Bucket List…

Visit Rome!!!! And south America! And just travel more really!

Buy a Mary Katrantzou dress

Learn how to hot-wire a car (always wanted to know how to do that)

Design and build a big piece of furniture from scratch

Drive a formula 1 car

Q: Any awesome future plans in the Handmade by Me pipeline?

A: Ha ha hopefully loads of awesome plans!!! I have so many ideas its ridiculous! Right now I am just establishing myself so its all about getting my brand out there and figuring out my little place in the market. And then hopefully onto some really awesome new projects! I would also like to do some really cool collaborations with other local creative types.

Q: Lastly, are your products available at local retail outlets, online stores or via people in the trade such as our company?

A: At the moment my products are available mostly online – Etsy, Hello Pretty, Meekel, Utique and We Heart This and in Durban I will be stocking Shoppe. I have only just arrived so I am currently in the process of supplying some interior decorator/designers and hopefully you will start seeing my items in more homeware style shops around the country.

And I would love my products to be available through your company : )

{Sera is also offering a Christmas present gift wrap and delivery service this year! Just send her your Handmade By Me shopping list and, when ready, your order will be delivered to you door – gift wrapped and all! You have till this Sunday to place your order! For more details see: here. Also be sure to check out the Handmade By Me website & Facebook page: here & here}

Just Unwrapped…

We sat down with Mandi Garbman of Cape Town-based textile and surface design consultancy, Unwrapped. Mandi has been a busy busy bee this past year – broadening her range to include smashing geo patterns, awesome wallpaper designs, and even some terrific stationery! Even more exciting developments – Mandi has just launched a new lighting range. The light boxes, which feature a laser cut version of the Unwrapped ‘Mystic Forest’ design, are on display at The Fringe on Kloof…

Q: How did you get into the surface design industry? Do you have an art / design background?

A: My love and appreciation for art and design specifically the practical side of art has forever been a large part of my life from play school, all the way through my schooling and ending with AAA, where I studied Graphic Design. My pencil crayons, pencil, pen, paintbrush, glitter, whatever the medium/tool may have been, has been an extension of Mandi Garbman hand growing up.  I first learnt about surface design as early on as play school where I would play around with different textures, mediums quite freely.

Q: Tell us a little more about Unwrapped

A: Unwrapped  is a surface design and consultancy studio, producing soft furnishings for the home, designing and printing vibrant textiles and wallpapers, design and project managing  commercial and private spaces. Unwrapped was born just over a year ago out of a dying need to get back to my roots whereby I began drawing and painting.  Not knowing entirely what to do with all the illustrations, I applied them to different surfaces.

Q: And what about your product range… I see you have recently ventured into wallpaper?

A: Unwrapped’s range is expanding. Prototyping whenever I have the opportunity between jobs. I have used some existing designs in my new wallpaper range alongside new designs which I have brought out recently, floral motifs and angular designs, there is something for everyone, which can be used across a spectrum of mediums, wallpaper, upholstery,  tiles, textiles etc. And I am currently also working on a lighting range which I will be exhibiting in the window of the Fringe Art on Kloof Street in the month of November 2012. Just in time for Christmas.

Q: What inspires you and where do you draw your inspiration from when designing?

A: Mandi Garbman is forever conjuring up new stories to illustrate, new materials to print onto, prototyping new ideas for projects, my brain is forever unfolding and tick tick ticking away. It is no secret that I am a lover of all things organic, be it in a smile, the way a feather falls slowly to the ground, the sound of the ocean in the distance, this is what inspires my work. Striking a balance in my life and in my work is of the utmost importance. I think I poses quite a naïve childlike personality, I try show this vulnerable softer side through my illustrations, which are all based on warm hearted, beautiful childhood memories, and some which are present and some of which are still anticipating the future.

Q:  How would you define the Unwrapped style?

A: Unwrapped is at the end of the day an extension of the designer which governs the brand. Anyone who has known me longer than a few hours will say that there are many facets to Mandi, I live day to day with an open mind. Unwrapped is a controlled whirlwind of ideas and inspirations, pulling and grabbing from passed and present memories and those things around me. All of which mould the creative process to the finished result. My first range there is a huge sense of rustic farm land, the country side, flowers, animals, warmth, sun.

Q: Do you have a colour that you favour most and why?

A: My favourite colour would have to be the colour of the ocean on an overcast day. The light emerald /jade moving into a darker shade of blue.

Q: We love bucket lists.  Please tell us about yours!

A: Bucket list, I am already crossing off. Very exciting…

  1. To visit Japan, dress in traditional geisha garments and walk around Kyoto.
  2. Partake in a summer art course in Paris.
  3. To become a household brand locally and internationally.
  4. To have the most beautiful studio with every machine and tool at my disposal with which I could work with every day for the rest of my life.

Q: Can you share your future plans with us?

I do plan on expanding /growing my little company.  Taking on bigger interior jobs, expanding overseas.  There are a couple things I would like to achieve by this time next year.  In the mean time I am happy to create and roll out beautiful designs for myself, my customers and clients.

Check out the Unwrapped website: here.

Quagga Fabrics & Wallpapers

Rob Tarlton, founder of the Cape Town-based surface design company Quagga Fabrics and Wallpapers recently shared his bold, intricate and interesting designs with us. Rob, who is a graphic designer, explains that most of Quagga’s designs started out as “dreamy doodles” which with weeks of refinement evolved into their first range of wallpaper called Maginaper (a clever mash-up of the words “imagination” and “paper”).

“The patterns convey a love of local flavour, with a hearty mix of international design trends thrown in. In these original designs, you can expect an exciting blend of patterns made up of abstract shapes and recognisable cultural icons, from cows to lighthouses”

After the wallpapers’ great success, Rob decided to translate the designs onto fabric, which in turn led to a small range of product. The range consists of “Beetle and Lighthouse” scatter cushions,which features local familiar sights such as the Mouille Point Lighthouse and an old VW Beetle. He also hopes to produce boxes, lampshades and bags with that distinct Quagga flavour in the near future.

Wondering about the name? Located in close proximity to the Groote Schuur Estate, which houses a faction of the “The Quagga Project” who aims to reintroduce the extinct Quagga through continuous selective breeding, the name “Quagga Fabrics and Wallpapersseemed like a logical and patriotic choice to Rob.

Check out the Quagga Fabrics and Wallpapers website: here for more info.

Terrific Tea Towels

I’ve been stumbling across so many gorgeous tea towels recently. It seems that unique and designer tea towels are all the rage, you see them everywhere – tea towels so stupendously pretty or quirky that is would be a crime to use them to dry dishes with! The tea towel is now more than ever, a desirable designer item – a blank canvas for creatives to express themselves on… tiny pieces of art that every home needs. I thought I would share a few local lovelies with you…

Vanilla Concrete who is maybe best known for their stunning feminine ceramics ranges recently released a beautiful textile range. The Notebook Collection consist of various sketch-like designs – products include gorgeous scatter cushions and table linen. The quirky tea towel designs features sweet phrases and cute doodles… love the bunny design!

I simply adore these whimsical floral tea towels by Naqiyah Mayat of niQi. The aptly named handmade design is called “Alice in Wonderland” and the gorgeous spring-coloured scheme of corals & aquas is simply delicious… love the lace and button detail!

Emma Wyngaard, the creative brain behind YumYum Handmade Textiles, designed the awesome vintage cutlery and kitchen scale tea towels above. Don’t you think they would look stunning if framed… far too funky to dry dishes with!

I was just waiting for the right post to feature the drop-dead gorgeous products of Tatum Lataste of Knysna-based company, Wild Rhubarb. She has a stunning range of products featuring beautiful sketchy nature-inspired designs screen printed onto striking bold-coloured cloth. These beautiful tea towels with vintage cutlery design is right up my alley! 

These awesome tea towels reminded me of the children’s classic, the Town Musicians of Bremen – a stacked farm animals… or do you prefer the other tea towel with a African twist featuring a cheeky baboon and meerkat? These gorgeous beauties are from Nest and available via Meekel.

Stumbled across this quirky purple cabbage tea towel on Hello Pretty. Designed by super talented illustrator Euodia, of Touchee Feelee (LOVE the name btw), the cabbage tea towel also comes in pink. Watch this lady… 

Another illustrator blessing the world with her whimsical designs. Kathy Mellor designed the three quirky tea towels above. My favourite is the Eggbeater tea towel, how about you?Hadeda is a treasure trove of awesome awesome product – they import most of it from Central and South America. I simply loved this striking Aztec print tea towel, it’s a total riot of colour and South American inspired patterns are super trendy at the moment! You can also buy this bright beauty for a limited time at a discounted price from CityMob (hurry, go check it out)!