Okay, okay – at this time of the year we can be heard making this common statement – “This year has flown past so quickly”. And honestly – that is exactly what comes to mind right now as I sit down with this post. At the start of 2014, Design Monarchy put their hand up to become involved with a World Design Capital 2014 project. The project involves the makeover or upgrade of the Acute Care Surgery Ward in Cape Town’s iconic state-run Groote Schuur Hospital. You can read more about this project, #WDC323, by reading our previous posts on the matter: here & here.
We did suspect back then that this project was going to be a biggie. There have been times when huge strides were made in this ward upgrade, times when I felt it was standing still and other times when it just moved at its own pace. As frustrating as that may be, I guess that is just the nature of this beast we are working with. Nevertheless, we go with the flow and keep making our plans for completion. That has been ear-marked for February 2015.
This week saw another two more amazingly generous sponsors install the first phase of their product. I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Efraim De Leeuw of Albert Carpets in Cape Town, and he brought Percy Lotter of FloorworX along with him. Together these two companies are responsible for providing one of the major elements (cost wise as well) for this ward upgrade… new bumper rails. FloorworX provided the product and Albert Carpets the labour expertise for the installation thereof.
They kitted the new Nurses Station with these bumper rails. Next year sees them installing meters and meters of the same throughout the whole ward.
Bumper rails are one of those elements of design that we don’t even notice when we move around a hospital. In a very busy ward, such as this Acute Care Surgery Ward, patients are moved to and from the operating theatre all day long (just about) – these bumper rails are thus critical in providing protection to the ward surfaces.
A MASSIVE THANK YOU AND BIG WHOOP WHOOP TO ALBERT CARPETS AND FLOORWORX. You guys rock!
Albeit it that we look forward to completion only in 2015 – this WDC#323 Project remains an exciting challenge to be a part of.
The year is quickly racing to a close and so also Cape Town’s stint as World Design Capital 2014. With over 460 recognized WDC projects it was (and still is) quite difficult to keep track of all of them. We find it sad and somewhat frustrating that some awesome projects slipped past us without so much as a whisper.
HOWEVER, the year is not over yet! There are still fabulous projects in the pipeline not to mention some stunning ongoing project. AND of course, our very own Design Monarchy studio is still hard at work with our World Design Capital project: #WDC323 the makeover of the Acute Care Surgery Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital…
To keep the yellow design fires burning we would like to share some of our favourites WDC projects with you in the weeks to come. Today I would like to single out two official World Design Capital projects that are still in motion… and might I say, pretty awesome. Though both projects sprouted from the temporary World Design Capital platform they are said to become permanent fixtures.
“stable: A collaborative exhibition space where Designers, Artists and Artisans have the opportunity to showcase their work.”
Located on 65 Loop Street in the CBD, the purpose of stable is to create a link between talented local designers and the everyday consumer.
The concept of stable is the brainchild of designer Aidan Bennetts and the shop features a boutique collection of innovative South African design. Designers, Artists and Artisans from every corner of South Africa showcase their work alongside one another in a professional retail environment. There is a wide range of items including chairs, tables, lighting and accessories all curated under one roof for your convenience.
stable is a long term initiative, with plans to open new outlets and growing beyond 2014.
“This project celebrates nature’s beautiful design: Table Mountain. Seven frames will be erected around Cape Town that perfectly frame Table Mountain from well known & unusual views.”
I am so in love this concept – it gives folks an opportunity to “interact” with Table Mountain.
The Table Mountain Frames were designed by Porky Hefer. Each frame was optimally positioned to perfectly frame a view of Table Mountain. Visitors can travel to all 7 sites to collect an image of themselves & Table Mountain. By setting up framed views from some unusual locations, people will be reminded of the beauty of the mountain from within the city, and convey a sense that it is a mountain for everyone, not just for visitors to the “usual” tourist locations. This is a great way to celebrate Cape Town’s New7Wonder of Nature and to encourage people to share images of the different views on social media.
Frames has already been set up at the V&A Waterfront, Blouberg Beach, Signall Hill, Khayelitsha and Cape Town Station.
Cavendish Square collaborated with local green designers to create sustainable products from the waste recycled by the centre. These chic & functional products can be bought at their Made by You & Cavendish Square Recycling Pop up store during the month of October 2014…
I rather like that title “Today for Tomorrow” as a WDC 2014 initiative. To me it carries a very powerful message of being present in what we undertake today, with a view of impacting our environment and surrounding going into tomorrow. One of those “speaks for itself” taglines.
And in keeping with the whole pop-up shop trend that is still gaining momentum in Cape Town, it is heart warming to see one of Cape Town’s landmark upmarket shopping malls, Cavendish Square, playing host to a designer orientated pop-up shop. For those further afield from Cape Town, just a piece of useless information – Cavendish Square has many, many designer label shops. Mostly all in the “High Street” genre. That to me then makes this initiative by Cavendish really cool – bringing in your street level designer labels and giving them exposure alongside the high street labels. Just the kinda inclusive exposure these designers need.
I realise that it is a bit late in the month, but for those of us in the Cape Town area, there is still time to nip over to Cavendish to take in the power of creative design influences by local designers. Something that we can surely be very Proudly South African.
The Groote Schuur #WDC323 Ward upgrade project recently received a generous donation of beautiful framed and unframed prints from Cape Town-based photographer and writer, Patrick McKenna. We asked him about the inspirations, frustrations and aspirations behind his images.
Q: When did your interest in photography begin?
We’ve rehearsed this question and answer before and as you know, I am rather embarrassed about admitting the truth. But here goes: as a young boy growing up in Zimbabwe during the 1960s and 1970s, there were only two publications that catered for an adolescent boy’s growing interest in the female form: National Geographic and Amateur Photographer. I consulted them religiously at every opportunity and the brilliance of their images shaped the rest of my life – regardless of whether they featured the female form or not. That’s when I started begging my mother for a camera.
Q: How old were you when she answered your prayers?
About 10 years old. She bought back an Instamatic camera from one of her trips to England. I have always been obsessed by the beauty, colour and power of horses and horse racing. Handily, we lived right behind Borrowdale Park racecourse in Harare and I was up at the crack of dawn next day to photograph the gallops. Sadly, my early attempts at photography failed because of my youthful impatience. Rather than wait for the films to be developed in a professional darkroom, I simply closed the curtains in my bedroom, pulled the film out its canister hoping that my pictures would magically appear before my eyes. Of course, I simply destroyed them.
Q: Have you ever had any formal training in photography?
One or two evening course, but that’s it. I think that formal training is vital when it comes to learning the technical aspects of photography. But I am not convinced that you can be taught to see with a photographer’s eye. That takes time and intensive personal study of the world around you. It means following your interests and developing your own styles and themes. It means trying, failing and trying again. Of course, if you have a natural talent, that always helps.
Q: Which photographers do you admire most?
I was hugely moved by the Magnum masters: Henri Cartier-Bresson and his colleagues. Old school black and white US street photographers like Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand also had a major impact on me. As for colour specialists, though, I hate Steve McCurry. Every picture he publishes is an absolute masterpiece and he makes me want to just give up and stop trying to match him. The list of the other big names I admire goes on and on. Robert Doisneau, Eugene Meatyard, Martin Parr, Lee Friedlander, Don McCullin and South Africa’s own virtuoso, Roger Ballen − among so many others. But I would also point out that the world is full of brilliant unknown photographers whose names you will never know. They are all over the internet. They are in galleries, magazines, books and graduation exhibitions. They are everywhere and you can learn from all of them.
Q: Digital or film?
Both. I am very grateful that I started taking pictures before the digital age. There is nothing like trying and failing with an old manual SLR film camera. Or spending several hours and lots of money in a darkroom until you have dodged and shaded the perfect picture in a tray of chemicals. But digital photography is a modern miracle that I celebrate every day. Perversely, the possibilities it opens up are so immense that I sometimes feel paralysed by them.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration these days?
Absolutely everywhere and anywhere. From a vast open landscape in the Overberg to the sand beneath my feet on Noordhoek Beach, the world is full of patterns, colours, textures, moments and inspiration.
Last year, I held and exhibition in Cape Town called Sea. Land. City. That just about covers all my strongest sources of inspiration – except for horse racing, which remains one of my obsessions.
That said, photographers are also vulnerable to same obstacles that effect writers suffering from writers’ block. You can visit locations that have inspired other photographers for decades and feel absolutely nothing despite your best intentions. I am Zimbabwean to the core. Ironically, however, I find it very difficult to feel photographically inspired in my own country, which is revered for its natural beauty. Perhaps it’s psychological!
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Never stop looking. Look at the masters. Look at Instagram. Look at the National Geographic and Amateur Photographer. Look at Flickr and Pinterest and random images on Google and in magazines and books. Most of all, look at your own universe. See the colours, textures, shapes all around you. Predict the moments. Learn how to capture them. If your technical skills are limited, enrol in a night class. If you lose hope and inspiration, never stop photographing. If you don’t like what you see, just hit delete and try again. That’s the beauty of digital photography. Two more points: you won’t get the images you want unless you are there to take them. And you can never, ever get too close to your subject.
Q: But with all these resources and sources open to aspiring photographers, isn’t there a danger of inspiration overload?
You have certainly got a point. Accessing raw inspiration is not a problem. The challenge comes with distilling all that raw material into a consistent and recognisable style that is unique to you. That is where practice and hard slog is so important. Eventually, all the fluid sources of inspiration and influence will crystallise into the distinctive shots that will define your style. The perfect image will always be elusive and there will always be an element of luck involved in capturing it. But as Gary Player once said: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”
Q: What next?
To capture the best image that has ever been captured by anyone, ever. I’ve no idea where it is, what it looks like or when I will see it. But I know it’s out there somewhere and I am going to keep looking for it. Meanwhile, if any of my images help a patient in Groote Schuur along the road to recover, that’s good enough for me.