Archive | August, 2012


Interview day has snuck up on us, and with mid-year craziness swirling all around us it’s understandable that many design professionals have over flowing schedules, making it difficult to find time to answer a bombardment of questions.  However, we will draw your attention to Laurie Wiid van Heerden, and his collaboration with Atang Tshikare for the currently ongoing Southern Guild Exhibition at the Circa, Everard Read gallery.
While borrowed from Visi, the interview remains interesting, showcasing a piece of work that strikes me as extremely urban and edgy, and one that I would love to see in public spaces.  Perhaps in the ever burgeoning and developing, trendy Braamfontein and Maboneng Precinct?
Laurie’s work is already a great favourite of ours, especially his Cork Stopper Chandelier:

Pairing him with the the street art loving person responsible for customized sneakers, stilettos and furniture, and something dynamic was bound to be created.  We weren’t disappointed when we saw the final product:

So many thanks to Visi Magazine for bringing these two talented design soldiers and their joint project to our attention:

When designers of different disciplines join forces, the results are often mind-blowing. We spoke to furniture designer Laurie Wiid van Heerden about working with graphic artist Atang Tshikare to produce this unforgettable bench.

VISI: How did the idea for this project come about?
LWvH: I was approached to work on a collaboration for benches at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg for the Rock Girl campaign (a public art and education project that partners with artists and designers to create safe places for girls and women). I love graffiti and think it’s a pity so much of it gets destroyed or damaged, so decided so design a product that would showcase this art form in a different way.  But we’re still waiting to get sponsors for the Muizenberg project and, as it’s such a cool idea, I decided to go ahead with the concept for the Southern Guild 2012 collection and exhibition.
We love the convergence of furniture design with graffiti. Was that always the idea, or did the concept evolve as it progressed?
This was always the idea behind the design – to create a functional, unique piece of art.
How did Atang Tshikare become involved?
India Baird of Rock Girl introduced us. He struck me as a really cool guy and I absolutely loved his work.  
In what functional context do you imagine the benches will work? Are they hardwearing enough for public spaces?
These benches are designed for the outdoors and the finish is hardwearing – galvanised 5mm steel, with automotive primers, base coats and four coats of lacquer. But, no matter how durable, they will tarnish and scratch over time. They would work well on a stoep or under a bridge where there’s some protection from the elements.
Are they one-off designs for Southern Guild or do you plan to produce them en masse?
These particular benches (one graffiti bench entitled “Where we at?” and the steel bench with the copper legs) form part of the Southern Guild collection.  But I’m hoping to expand beyond benches to produce different pieces. They will always be unique, as the artist draws or paints on each one individually.
Did you gain any insights from collaborating with an artist whose practice is so different from your own?
Yes, there are always things to learn from other designers and artists. Atang is very relaxed but extremely hardworking. I have never seen a guy have so much patience and draw with such precision.

For further reading on the project, have a look at the Wiid Design blog.



When it comes to decorating, there is an entire universe of options, be it finishings, furnishings, fabrics or styles.  One of the foundation blocks of decor, that has the ability and power to tie everything together, is colour.
Colour is an exciting avenue to explore, and while many people are hesitant to use colour, it’s often the easiest and least expensive way in which to transform your space.  To fully utilise the power and potential of colour does require some caution, but also requires confidence – however, you don’t need to be an expert in the field to do a good job.  It all builds on a few basic principles, through which incredible spaces can be created.

Colour has the ability to create optical illusions in any room, allowing the space to appear larger, smaller, cosier, more austere, and a myriad of other deceptions.  This is always a convenient tool to have in your back pocket, as you don’t always walk into the ideal room to work with.  
Some tips to remember:
  • For a room that appears larger, pale colours can usually help.
  • Warmer, darker colours have the ability to develop a cosier atmosphere.
  • To “visually shorten” a room, the end walls can be painted in a bold colour.
  • To increase the overall size of a home, using a similar colour scheme throughout will do the trick.  This will create a “flow” through the house.
  • Colour can trick us into believing a room has a different temperature – in a room that receive a lot of sun, cooler colours can change the visual temperature, as warmer colours will do in a room that doesn’t receive much sunlight.
  • Should there be an unappealing architectural feature in your room, colour match it to the walls to make it less noticeable.  
Along with the well known primary and secondary colours, the colour wheel also consists of tertiary colours.  These are colours obtained when a primary and secondary colour are combined.  All in all, the colour wheel is broken into twelve basic colours.

When it comes to selecting paint colours especially, it’s going to be a challenge to both you and the shop assistant when you charge in and ask for green.  There are thousands of options, and knowing some of the correct terminology will help eliminate some frustrations.
  • HUE: The colour’s name.  (In this case, green.)
  • TINT: Also known as pastels, tints are hue’s that have had white added to them.
  • SHADE: Hue’s that have had black added.
  • TONE: The tonal value of a hue is changed with the addition of black and white.
  • VALUE: With the addition of white (a tint), the hue’s value increases, creating a high value colour.  A low value colour is created with the addition of black (A shade.).
  • INTENSITY: This is how bright the hue is.
Using pink as an example, one could say that the hue is red, that has had a tint added.
While there are entire field of study devoted to this concept, just remembering the basics can have a huge influence on a space.  However, don’t feel the need to keep strictly to these ideals – not everyone experiences colour in the same way.  It’s sometimes just helpful to have these on hand:
  • BLUE tends to have a calming, tranquil effect.  (Possibly good for a bedroom, for example.)
  • RED has the ability to change the visual temperature, and is also know to induce an appetite.  (Ideal for dining rooms and kitchens.)
  • YELLOW is a joyful colour, seen to be stimulating.  (Good for rooms used for entertaining, as well as smaller, poorly lit spaces such as hallways.)
  • PURPLE’s more popular shades, ranging from lilac to lavender, tend to have calming influences.  Brighter purples have associations with power.
  • ORANGE is also known to stimulate appetites, as well as stimulating energy.  (It could work well in children’s playrooms.)
  • GREEN is a refreshing hue, bringing nature inside.  It has a relaxing effect, and works well in almost any design context.
Plascon Greens – Source

    It’s often best to start from the floor, and work your way up to the walls and ceiling.  Should there be existing colours to work with, build your idea around those.  It’s often a good idea to frequently repeat colours in a subtle manner, such as scatter cushions, a pattern in the floor rug or the upholstery piping – this will help tie everything together and create balance.
    It’s advisable to not use more than three solid colours at a time in a colour scheme – rather add interest through textures and accessories, and remember that the less intense your shades are, the easier it will be to create a cohesive scheme.

    And then forget everything and do what you love!  Well, not everything, but remember that these are only the very basic building blocks of decor.  They’re not concrete rules that will incur the wrath of the greater decorating community, but rather suggestions to keep them in mind, to contribute to easy successes.  Be bold and fearless, but always remember that the end goal is to create balance.
    For further reading on colour schemes and balance, head over to the Plascon Colour Forecast for 2013, where balance played a large role, as well as this post on the wonderful John Jacob, and his passionate outlook on color use and its potential.  (He has a penchant for neutrals, but the principles remain the same.)  Also pop over to the Plascon Trends Pinterest account for stunning colour inspirations.
    Credit must go to the Design School Southern Africa for colour notes, and to the Design Milk CMYLK Pinterest page for colour scheme images.

    - Lee


    At nine o’clock on the morning of the eighth of August I, Lee-Anne Geldenhuys, boarded the Gautrain for the very first time, heading for Midrand.  On arrival at Decorex Jo’burg, I smugly skipped the already enormous line, aiming straight for the VIP counter, where I had sweet talked my way into press pass.  Not quite knowing this entitled me to, I clipped my press badge onto my new Zara blazer’s lapel, and feeling fancy I burst forth onto the busy scene that was to fold around me for the rest of the day.  

    I discovered just how handy that little piece of purple cardboard was the instant I tried to take a photo of the David Muirhead stand (winner of an excellence award) – a very polite, but insistent gentleman chastised me for even having thought of it, but one quick purple flash from me, and it was all smiles and business cards.  (Their stand was beautiful, by the way – dark and atmospheric, lit up with bright yellow accents.)  They were the 2012 Decorex Designer Spotlight – “each year, Decorex invites one of the country’s leading designers to style up a space to showcase their current inspiration and interpretation of up to date trends.(So said my press release.)

    And so my love of the Purple Press Pass Power grew, and I wielded my cell phone and camera shamelessly. 

    As I surged forward with the crowd,  I tried my utmost not to be overwhelmed by the amount of new and exciting ideas that swirled around me – after the David Muirhead stand, I came across the first of many refreshment stands: the M-Net Cares Café“The lettering-inspired M-Net Cares Café is an M-Net, Decorex Joburg and Salvocorp (the official distributor of Staron engineered stone by Samsung) initiative to raise awareness of and collect book donations for the M-Net Naledi Children’s Literacy Project.”  The café sported bookshelf designs by the likes of Anatomy Designs, Goet, Re-create, Tonic, Raw Studio’s among others – visitors were encouraged to bring along “pre-loved” children’s books to donate.  I donated a well thumbed “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” with some sadness, but carried on, knowing my good deed for the day had been done.  (Please understand that although it was a small gesture, I really loved that book.)

    Other highlights included the Mercedes Benz Man Caves – local celebs were coupled with designers to create the ultimate in masculine decor, and visitors could vote for their favourite by donating money to the charities chosen by the design teams.  These teams were Bob Mabena and Heidi Arenstein from Future Classics, Tumisho Masha and Ockert Snyman from Jacket Interiors, Jason Greer and Adam Levin from Imagine Nation and Mo G and Lee Ann from Mezzanine Interiors.

    The main design influence that was carried throughout the exhibition was that of the new Plascon Colour Forecast.  The 2013 colours were released at the show, with stands created by Laurence Brick, Yvonne O’Brien, Egg Designs and Ink Design Lab interpreting each colour palette.

    Along with this came the Plascon Colour Café where all the new colour schemes came together to create atmosphere where you could rest your feet and quench your thirst. (Decorex is huge.  You need that break.)  It was also the perfect vantage point to view the Plascon Fashion Show.  The fashion show showcased the interpretations of the 2013 colour schemes by four top designers – Tiaan Nagel, Lunar, Anisa Mpungwe from Loin Cloth & Ashes and Fundudsi by Craig Jacobs.  In the words of Mr Jacobs, “We’ve all witnessed the blurring of the lines between fashion, decor and other lifestyle trends in recent years.”  

    If you weren’t inspired enough after all that, you could head over to the Plascon Inspire Theatre, where talks were going on all day, every day, covering subjects such as upcycling household items, painting techniques, and paint product knowledge.  Plascon was definitely putting the show to good use.

    Otherwise there was the stunning Contemporary Country installation by the Laurence Brick Creative Direction Team (which also won an excellence award), Masterchef demonstrations, the Decorex Designer Collection sale, the Graham Beck Wine Bar by Wetherleys, and over seven hundred other stands in five halls to keep visitors busy. 

    My personal highlights included meeting Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly, an idol of mine, (That may be an understatement – I want to be her when I grow up.) when I ventured into the VIP and Media Lounge, as well as the sprawling South African Handmade Collection.

    Decorex has most certainly become a powerhouse in the decor and design world since its inception in 1994, and one has to admire the amount of work and planning that goes into not only the actual products, but into the stands.  They are all really beautiful, and only while keeping tabs on the run up to the show did I realise how much effort goes in behind the scenes.  

    To tell the full tale of my Decorex adventure would require many more blog posts, and a great many more photo’s, so all I can really suggest is having a look at the Decorex SA Facebook page and Pinterest account for more photo’s (those photo’s that I didn’t take in this post came from there), as well as making a turn at the next show in Durban.  

    Happy decorating! 

    - Lee


    A phenomenon that we absolutely adore in the office, and one that is becoming more and more commonplace, is that of vertical gardens.  Not to be confused with creeper and ivy covered deserted cottage walls, these works of art are carefully constructed, with meticulously designed patterns and purposely placed colours, becoming ever growing, ever changing pieces of art.  Gorgeous – almost like eco-friendly street art.  And the beauty of it is that these gardens are becoming more and more accessible to those of us that have limited space and less than green fingers.
    The “modern innovator” behind the original fame of the garden is botanist Patrick Blanc.  While he may not have invented the concept, he most certainly revolutionised it, bring vast green walls to our attention world wide.

    Pont Max Juvenal, Aix en Provence

    “On a load-bearing wall or structure is placed a metal frame that supports a PVC plate 10 millimetres (0.39 in) thick, on which are stapled two layers of polyamide felt each 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. These layers mimic cliff-growing mosses and support the roots of many plants. A network of pipes controlled by valves provides a nutrient solution containing dissolved minerals needed for plant growth. The felt is soaked by capillary action with this nutrient solution, which flows down the wall by gravity. The roots of the plants take up the nutrients they need, and excess water is collected at the bottom of the wall by a gutter, before being re-injected into the network of pipes: the system works in a closed circuit. Plants are chosen for their ability to grow on this type of environment and depending on available light.”
    For more information on this incredible green artist, pop over to the lovely article and interview by Visi Magazine here.
    Others have picked up on the idea, such as Fernando Ortiz Monasterio.  His work in Mexico City is truly breathtaking and has been referred to as a symbol of progress in a notoriously polluted area.  He states that “The main priority for vertical gardens is to transform the city.  It’s a way to intervene in the environment.”

    Beautiful, no?

    Nedbank Menlyn Main
    Closer to home, Kevin and brother Ricky Frankental opened the doors to their company, Grow Collective in 2009.  
    Based in Johannesburg, this duo specialise in indoor and outdoor vertical gardens seen in residential, corporate and hospitality environments that will take your breath away.

    Even more exciting, is discovering that various, more watered down versions are easily DIY-ed.  House and Leisure have some definite starting points to consider before embarking on your green adventure:

    • Try your first project outdoors, as plants will need additional lighting when grown indoors.
    • Plan your garden and then explore in local thrift shops. Recycling an existing suitable container will make your garden more unique, and give an added charm to your project.
    • Be patient and allow the plants to take root properly in the new soil before hanging it.
    • Match plants to the location of the garden and the variables associated with its location such as sun, shade and protection from frost.
    Good news is that it doesn’t seem too difficult to create, which is wonderful if you, like me, cannot normally keep a cactus alive.  Have a look at this tutorial for help.  The possibilities are endless – they can be as colourful and creative as you like.  Another example of a similar concept is that of moss graffiti – these images have run riot across the interwebs, but the idea remains fantastic, and simpler than a full blown garden:

    So fun

    So go forth, lovely readers, and make your worlds a little more green.  It’s good for you, you know!

    For more inspiration and organic prettiness, see this Vertical Gardens Pinterest board.

    Image source – Restaurant Padrinos in Mexico City – Right Hand Side – Good Food in Mexico City


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