Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Biblioteque on Kloof

Cape Town based Elle Decoration features editor, Louise McCann blogs for us this week.

Looking for interesting books I popped into Biblioteq, a fantastic boutique book store on Cape Town's Kloof Street. Owner Rotem Shachar lived in New York for years and brought a taste of the Big Apple back to the Mother city when she opened Biblioteque a year ago. It’s a great store – very styloosh with a discerning stock of books.

To a background sound track of 'The Sound of Music' (one of the first movies I ever watched) I sat on the window seat and paged through a delicious pile of books on art, design, architecture and photography.

The latest Tord Boontje book had just cleared customs when I arrived… It’s satisfyingly big and heavy and is a visual and wordy run through his prolifically creative career. The cover, wrapped in a sheer gauzy fabric, is a simple touch of genius.

These are some of my favourite pages in the book. I love studio shots as I love to see the heart of the matter.

And then oudoors - a skeletal forest, a swing, birdsong… does this ‘creeper-covered’ couch not call your name?

Issue 55 - Sea Cottage

Tomorrow, on 29 May, the foremost decorating show in South Africa, Rooms on View, will open at the Sandton Convention Centre. One of the most exciting exhibits is always South Africa House, showcasing new work from South African designers!

This year, South Africa House is curated by long-time stylist Laureen Rossouw, and it's sure to be something special. But while we wait for her exhibit to be unveiled, lets take a peek into her own Simonstown house.

Production by Laureen Rossouw
Photographs by Jac de Villiers.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Report from NYC: All Things Bright and Beautiful

For all their gargantuan scale, one of the amazing things about visiting design expos like the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, held in Manhattan on May 18-20, is that the designer is often on hand to chat. I found myself doing just that after wondering into the booth of Mabeo Furniture, struck by the lush photos of Botswana on display.

Patty Johnson, a Canadian designer, collaborated with Gaboronian Peter Mabeo to produce a line of contemporary furniture that is stunning in its simplicity.

Mabeo’s company has been supplying the South African market with custom made furniture for years and through his collaboration with Patty he has expanded his production. Now, the duo’s Maun Windsor chair is on sale at Design Within Reach in the US.

Patty, it turns out, is a master craftswoman who works with local craftspeople in developing countries to create financially and environmentally sustainable products through her North South Project.

Still in the Southern hemisphere, does anyone know if El Salvador is a hotbed of quirky, sun-infused design? The “Fresh From the Tropics” booth pulsated with splashy colour and unconventional materials (an effect that was heightened by location nextdoor a booth showing Danish furniture in sleek neutrals). There was insect-like outdoor furniture by Jose Roberto Paredes.

Compatriot Eugenio Menjivar made lamps using found objects and egg cartons.

And Harry Washington’s L’astiko lounge chair reuses rubber tubes from old tires for its surprisingly comfortable seat and backrest.

Actually, I did a lot of sitting at the ICFF. After walking the halls of the Javits Center, those chairs were very inviting. The most pleasing experience was Brion Experimental’s Placentero lounge chair.

It contains a counterbalance, so you can rock with minimal effort and it will never tip over. The design group use gestation and the uterus as conceptual departure points for a lot of what they do.

Molo’s softseating, made of flexible honeycomb paper, was surprisingly sturdy. They make curved walls, lighting, and other structures out of the material too, some of which is in the permanent collection of the MoMA.

I was a little afraid to sit in this large red chair, perhaps because it reminded me of the Popemobile or one of Francis Bacon’s paintings? But I thought it was super sophisticated. It is called Showtime, designed by Jaime Hayon of Barcelona Design.

That’s all for now. I’m off to see the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, which are devoted to a celebration of the ICFF’s 20th anniversary.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Issue 55 - Magic Mountain

Overlooking an unspoiled valley in the Soutpansberg mountains, there's a traditionally-built village called the Lesheba Venda Village Lodge, and by all accounts, there's magic in the air up there.

The Village has been built on the remnants of an original Venda settlement by John and Gill Rosmarin, and is filled with the artworks of internationally-renowned Venda artist, Noria Mabasa.
Although the lodge has stayed true to the form of a traditional Venda village, the owners have made modifications that allow for all the creature comforts that make a holiday that much more relaxing.

So next time you feel like getting away from it all, go to a place where you can watch black eagles swoop by and walk with the rhinos in untouched bush. Lesheba is definitely on my list of places to see.
Production by Kerstin Eser
Photographs by Nadette Clare-Talbot.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Big Appetite in the Big Apple

I’m Kelly Berman, a South African writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NYC, and I’ll be guest blogging with reports about the design and d├ęcor world fresh from the Big Apple. What could be more fun?

Talk about sensory overload. There was so much beautiful stuff to see in New York City over the past two weeks. Last weekend, my home borough hosted Brooklyn Designs, which featured things designed or made in Brooklyn. Although its four locations were quite intimate in scale, it gave me a lot to chew on.

So, a few tidbits from that. Studio1Thousand, a lighting studio specializing in LEDs, showed the Constellation chandelier by Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn, an industrial design student at Pratt Institute. It reminds me of a broom made out of pine needles.

Takeshi Miyakawa’s ingenious plywood designs make the most out of each piece’s volume. His Fractal 23 chest of drawers is a 28-inch cube with drawers on all four sides.

For a peek of the live action at Brooklyn Designs, check out this video on Miyakawa’s Website.

Brave Space Design uses a lot of bamboo in its eco-friendly furniture. The bamboo is farmed and rapidly renewable. It is bound together using emissions-free adhesives into a plywood that is very durable.
The hollow dining range has pockets of space built into the underside of the surface, providing extra support.
The Planar storage range uses push-touch hardware so that handles don’t interrupt the seamless surface.
Ok, the next few things that I saw at the BD+ Design Accessories Market have nothing to do with interiors, but I was so taken with them. Sea creature-inspired jewellery in organic shapes from Emily Amey.

And graphic prints from the inimitable Lotta Jansdotter.

Next up: the big mama of design expos, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Issue 55 - Modesty Blaze

Just last week, Michael Stevenson Contemporary opened the doors to its brand new premises in Woodstock, Cape Town. So this peek into the simple beachside home of Michael Stevenson is a well-timed counterpoint to the high-powered art space in which this intensely private gallerist spends most of his days.

Production by Lauren Shantall
Photographs by Mark Williams.