Archive | November, 2012


I was fortunate enough to receive tickets to the trend talk presented by Decorex founder, Nicola Hadfield, hosted at the beautiful PlasconSpaces showroom in Fourways on Monday.  

 I was extremely excited to meet this dynamic pioneer in the field of South African design – in global design in fact.  I arrived at the showroom to be greeted by Plascon Spaces showroom manager Claire Bond, a lively and wonderful hostess, who ushered me to the beautiful lunch spread of olive and artichoke quiches, cupcakes, strawberries and Pierre Jourdan bubbly.  I couldn’t ask for a lovelier setting.  I was the youngest and least experienced person there by miles, so I clutched at my champagne glass and tried to stay out from underfoot as I listened to the creative babble being emitted from the crowd of established professionals, my excitement for my future profession growing like an expanding bubble in my stomach.  Eventually, as the snacks began to dwindle, we were invited to find our seats in the presentation area, where Claire introduced Nicola, or Nicci rather, as a women that has always handled everything in her path with stilettoed aplomb.
Nicola led her presentation with a slide bearing her mantra:

“Designing a way of living that is a unique expression of ourselves is all about creating beautiful spaces that delight the senses and touch the soul.”

At this point the tiny blond bombshell entered, greeting us as the music died down – clearly a lady who knows how to make an entrance.  While currently based in Cape Town, she sees Jo’burg as her energy boost; a vitamin B shot.  She has an impressive repertoire, including designing, consulting, brand strategizing (for the likes of the IID, Design Quarter, and Gallo and GettyImages), jewellery design, and trend commentating – she explains that trend forecasting and trend commentating are two different fields:  she “sifts through ephemeral trends and introduces them to a South African market,” as well as marketing South African trends on a global level.  Coupled with her often used expression, “Local is Lovely,” her passion and prowess makes her a fantastic person to have in our corner, especially with the Cape Town WorldDesign Capital in 2014 peeping over the horizon. 
She explained that as a Gemini, she has two very obvious sides to her – the entrepreneur and the designer.  She started in PR and media, beginning Decorex in 1994 with eight hundred rand to her name.  In a time of change in the country, banks were hesitant to lend money to a blond haired, and by her own admission, clueless woman (although I have my doubts as to her being clueless).  And so she began the now enormous expo in a 356m2 space in Hyde Park, with seventeen staff members, determined to achieve her goal no matter how doubtful the bankers of the time may have been.  Once Decorex had spread to Cape Town and Durban, Nicola sold the expo, but was left “brain dead” – she struggled to think of new themes and concepts, and unlike the rest of us mere mortals, the result of her “designers block” was her debut as an author with “Nicola Hadfield’s Beautiful Homes.”  After moving to Cape Town, she decided to encapsulate South African design – not styled, magazine-esque shots, but real portraits of real homes with human, unstyled interiors.  She feels that our spaces are always happy, confident and homely, and will be going to talk to BBC’s Grand Designs and give other talks in New York next year about South African style.

 “It’s a truly diverse selection of stylish, characterful homes, all with their own sense of identity and bearing testimony to a truly South African style.”

Not being content with just this one book, she went on to do the same with our beautiful gardens, expressing a desire to share the idea of others with “Nicola Hadfield’s Beautiful Outdoors.”

“Harmoniously designed spaces do not have to be defined by four walls.”

Nicola raised the question of whether, with the heightened awareness of design thanks to publications such as House and Leisure and House and Garden, interior designers have become redundant.  While we sat quaking in our boots at the very idea, she explained that people are beginning to turn to the likes of celebrities to design spaces, such as Gordon Ramsay’s Victory Suite at the Keating Hotel, rocker turned designer Lenny Kravitz, and the breathtaking Dior and Tiffany suites at the St Regis in New York.  She notes that designers have to constantly be reaching for more, upping their game, and personalising their service.

The Dior Suite
The Tiffany Suite

Once on the trend section of the presentation, Nicola mentioned that the commercial reasons behind colour forecasts and commentaries is because every designer out there is waiting for their cue, be they fashion, furniture, textile, or appliance designers.  (Side bar: It’s a far more massive mechanism than we realise, that reminds me somewhat of the talking-to Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada gives Andy)  She feels that in order to truly pull off a trend using a “pop” colour, like this years Tangerine Tango, it’s important to use only the highest quality materials in order to make it look like a “whole,” as opposed to a flimsy trend.  Also, with regard to these types of colours, it’s normally wise to use them sparingly, due to trend longevity.  According to textile designers, Tangerine Tango didn’t quite take off in South Africa the way it did overseas, but the forecasted “pop” colour of 2013 is set to launch very successfully.  Say hello to yellow, 2013.

Other predicted colours for 2013 are Dusk Blue, Emerald, Lemon Zest, Linen, African Violet, Monaco Blue, and Poppy Red.  It’s noted that colours are becoming slightly more muted.  Metallics are apparently staying big, especially copper and rose gold, and scatter cushions are becoming more “floppy,” as opposed to overstuffed and karate chopped.  Lighting is becoming all about making a statement.  The neon trend is predicted to stay with us for a while, and the most important for South Africa, is the burgeoning “hand made” trend.  Personally I have been watching the meteoric rise of “craft culture” with glee, and it’s an area in which South Africans have endless potential.  There appears to be a greater sense of nostalgia and sentimentality that is driving even mass producing factories to begin churning out goods that don’t look as though they’ve been churned out.  Objects are becoming far more personalised.

Inspiration provided by nature will always be a trend, as nature is always there (or so we hope) – no matter what colour schemes are released and when, some shade of green is always among them.
Trim work and detailing is becoming more three dimensional, with concepts such as “leg covering” becoming popular, and cross hatching finishes.  Piping is becoming less important, replaced by a saddle stitch, and diamond deep-buttoning is on the rise.  Two toned contrast is coming in, for example, contrasting buttons in your upholstery, or contrasting upholstery on your furniture (different fronts and backs, for example).  Patchwork details are being seen, and wallpaper continues to gain popularity.


“Organic,” “reclaimed,” and “sustainable” remain trend catch phrases, and importantly so.  The acceptance of these concepts as “fashionable” has only been kind to our environment, and should stay focused on.
Swirls, twirls, loops, shadow, mosaics, larger scale glass work and man caves will be seen all over the place, as well as the fun concept of “twinning,” as seen on the cover Visi’s new look magazine.


As if to signal the end of her presentation, Nicola’s Macbook feigned death (dead battery) on the last slide, once again bearing her mantra.  While her assistant scrambled for a power cable, Nicola tried to remember the exact wording – I wondered just how fresh to this world I would look, how green, if I raised my hand to tell her that I had written it down when we came in.  My shyness in the face of such a design powerhouse and a room full of established creatives won put, s0 I sat on my hands while she thanked us for our attendance, and Claire tempted us all with more sparkling wine.  It was a wonderful, educational experience, and my thanks must go to Visi Magazine for the tickets.  It was an altogether lovely Monday afternoon.

Nicola and Jen - Source

So go forth and create, dear readers – now you know what to look out for!

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