Friday, 13 March 2009

We've moved...

Please visit the ELLE DECORATION blog at our brand new web address:

See you there!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

New issue... and a new address!

There's a brand new issue on the shelves today. It's Feel Good issue - just what we all need more of!

And in other exciting news, we're making a little blogging hop over to our own domain name, and we're also spreading our wings with a new blogging platform. So to stay in touch with all your latest DECO news, please refresh your Favourites folder with our new address at

See you there for more about the Feel Good issue!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Report from NYC: Galia Gluckman

Our New York correspondent Kelly Berman of The Brooklynist is back with us today, freshly returned to NYC after her recent trip to Cape Town. Nice to see you in Cape Town, and nice to have you back online with another great New York find, Kelly!

Galia Gluckman is an artist who makes large-scale collages out of tiny bits of coloured paper. Drawn to intense hues, she trawls through old magazines and scraps of wrapping paper in search of 'families' of colour to use in her pieces. Her painstaking work recently paid off when she won the Global Green Artist Challenge for Best Overall Green Piece at the International Art Expo in New York City at the beginning of March.

Galia cuts the paper into small, mosaic-like pieces and layers them on top of each other, creating intricate surfaces of pattern and colour that come together to create large landscapes, her favourite subject matter. She then applies a sealant to the surface.

"I take great pride in turning paper that may otherwise go to landfills into works of art," she says. "Ninety-five percent of all unsold newsstand magazines are recycled by newsstands and publishers, only about 17 percent of sold magazines are recycled."

A fashion designer who has worked in South Africa, London and New York, Galia's art has been influenced by the vibrant world of fashion and by her family history in the textile industry.

Galia's latest venture involves turning her collages into high-quality prints, which have been attracting the interest of interior designers and hotels in the NYC area. You can see more of her work on her website.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Delicate stones

Am simply loving these crocheted stones from Knitalette.

Via Design*Sponge

Monday, 09 March 2009

The Low Down

Today we hear from our new Joburg correspondent, Nicole Ravenscroft, with what we're looking forward to being the first of many guest posts from this vibrant city.

Miniature stools are the latest seating bling in Jozi. Functionally they are great for small spaces and also allow for interesting height dynamics in a room. Finally I can breathe: being short is in fashion!

Space vengeance meets organic lines with Vitra's soft cork stool/table , giving a light, amusing flare to a room. Similarly shaped, but made of plastic, I rather fancy the Plastic stools (below) by Italian company Parri.
More geometric plastic stools (below), this time the Shape stool by Viccarbe, can be used as a stool or a small table. Group them to create ever-changing patterns and groups - great in a modern office space. Find all of these locally at Sean Williams.

Jump back into your imagination with some playful animal-themed stools. The Elephant stool by Vitra, was originally made in aluminium, and is now available in polypropelene.

And, of course, the classic plywood Eames Elephant (below) by Charles and Ray Eames, is also from Vitra.
These are great for children rooms, but hey, I would quirk my space with them too. So come on everyone, take off your heels, pull up a stylish stool and join us shorties!

Friday, 06 March 2009

EDIDA South Africa

The winners of the annual South African leg of the Elle Decoration International Design Awards (EDIDA) were announced last week, and we're thrilled to share them here on the blog.

The overall EDIDA honours have gone to Johannesburg-based Willowlamp, for their robust yet delicately formed chandeliers made out of fine metal chains.

Industrial designer and jeweler Sian Eliot’s and architect Adam Hoets’s latest range is inspired by flower forms like proteas and fuschias. The striking chandeliers have features such as petals made out of voluptuous ball chain lobes, while the flower stamens and filaments are hanging lights made of frosted pyrex glass visors over halogen lamps.

The winners in each of the EDIDA categories were as follows:

This category went to Animal Farm's collaboration between Porky Hefer and Warren Lewis. Drawing on the idea of milk crates, used as cheap seating in shebeens, they made up wooden crates emblazoned with social commentary such as “high hopes, big dreams” and “short courage, tall stories.”

Tableware and Accessories
Gauteng glass artist Martli Jansen van Rensburg, won the tableware and accessories category for her small glass domes that slot onto jacaranda wood bases to show off collectables like shells and jewellery.

Cape Town-based interior designer Laurie Owen, who uses local materials such as fallen trees and alien vegetation species to make her Romantic Organic range, was named winner of the furniture section.

Bev Missing won this category for her Rain bathroom and body care accessories range. The natural products are made in Swellendam, and sold in upmarket retail outlets.

Baby Podo, a range of contemporary cots and compactums made in Cape Town, won the bedding section for owners Jenna and Anton Robbertse. The range’s flexible cot can be transformed into another piece of useful furniture such as a bed, and most of the pieces can be used independently as stand-alone book cases, cupboards or toy drawers on wheels.

The fabric section was won by African Sketchbook’s creative director Dianne Christian and marketing expert Anne Thisleton, who have trained unskilled township residents in hand painting, block printing, stenciling and screening.

The flooring section was won by Johno du Plessis, who took up handcrafting cowhide carpets in South Africa after spending three decades abroad. His latest focus is using blocks of colour and juxtaposing black and white and other combinations for 1940, 50s and 60s-inspired rugs.

Wall Coverings
The wall coverings section was taken by practising Cape Town architect Lorenzo Nassimbeni, who works with his building drawings to develop wallpaper for an array of clients from corporates to restaurateurs and boutique owners.

A Victorian cartoon featuring a classic anglepoise light was the inspiration for industrial designer Liam Mooney’s winning arc lamp in the lighting section.

Emerging Designer
The Emerging Designer of the Year is 25-year-old Lyall Sprong, who produces objects ranging from lighting and shelves to benches and candleholders.

The craft section was won by Cape Town creative Louise Gelderblom, who hand-builds sculptural vessels up to 2.5 metres high. Her designs reach “people with big spaces”.

The outdoor section was won by Johannesburg’s Joe Paine, who’s designed a flat-pack customisable vertical planter that you attach to your wall rather like a DIY creeper.

The architecture section went to MMA Architects in Cape Town for a low-cost housing design that will soon bring innovation to the Freedom Park community of Cape Town. The architects borrowed thermal performance elements from indigenous mud and wattle building, while the timber frame and sandbag infill construction is efficient and easy to build.

The South African designs will now be entered into the international judging round of the Elle Decoration International Design Awards to compete against entries from 23 other countries. The overall winners in this final round will be announced at the Milan Furniture Fair in April. Good luck to our winners!

Thursday, 05 March 2009

Rooftop Airstream

Today, our features editor Louise McCann (currently on sabbatical) tells us all about... what? A penthouse trailer park, did you say? Tell us all about it, Louise!

In my time, I’ve caravanned on coast and cliffside, veld and forest, but a newly opened trailer park on the rooftop of the Grand Daddy Hotel in Cape Town's Long Street was pioneer territory. Born-and-bred trailer park trash, I was the perfect candidate to test it out. It was a Saturday night, deep in the nicotine-clogged heart of the city, and it was fabulous.

Of the seven Airstream trailers decorated by talented local designers, we were booked into ‘Love of Lace’ - the masterpiece of our very own ELLE DECORATION stylist, Tracy Lynch. It is, in trailer park lingo, a Passion Wagon.

Complete with a plush bed large enough for the entire Walton family, a sexy little bathroom and dimmer switches on the oh-so-pretty chandelier, this little gem has to be the sauciest boudoir in Cape Town’s skyline.

The ‘Pleasantville’ caravan was put together by furniture designer Liam Mooney. This little slice of life will have you living out your fantasies of the 1950s American Dream. Very, very pleasant indeed…

The blue-and-white splendour of ‘Dorothy’, the cool and crazy creation of art lecturer Sarah Pratt, will drive you dreamy rather than dotty.

The tiniest trailer of all is ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’, created by Chloe Townsend of Missibaba, her partner in Twine, Cara Rosa and artist Tamsin Relly. This threesome has created a space that invites you to bed in and beatle away the hours, playing through the collection of 60s and 70s LPs. And a nice treat for caravanning veterans of communal ablution blocks - this one has a built-on bathroom!

The best parts of this inner city escape? I loved cocktails at the sky bar, lounging around the caravan, popping out to Long Street for supper and vino, with bed just a short walk away. But best best of all? Waking up to a trailer-window view of the slumbering city on a Sunday morning. Unbeatable.

Visit the Grand Daddy to make your booking.

Wednesday, 04 March 2009

The Tiny Modernist

Love the mid-century modern look, but simply can't fit a signature chair into your apartment, or your budget? Well, think small - really small!

Etsy seller The Tiny Modernist sells cross-stitch patterns, so you can have all the classics at your fingertips - literally! I could do with this pair of Eames Shell chairs, or maybe the Barcelona chair, or the Eames Lounge chair, or a Eero Aarnio Ball Chair...

Visit the Tiny Modernist for more cross-stitch patterns of the classics, as well as screenprinted baby tees.

Monday, 02 March 2009

Design Indaba: Expo impressions

Yesterday was the last day of the Design Indaba Expo. I beat the heat and the crowds and got there early to see what was on offer, and to take a couple of snaps. Of course, the sheer quantity is overwhelming, and the poor lighting made snap-taking fairly tricky. So what I have to show here is just a fleeting impression of some of the things that caught my eye and came out reasonably well on the screen.

Heath Nash's work with discarded plastics is as intriguing as ever, and his naively put-together stall quite charming. This white light made with plastic milk bottles is simply breathtaking.

Product designer Cornelius Lemmer has been doing some Frankenstein work, taking apart many old ball and claw tables and cupboards and meticulously putting them back together to make one piece. They really are quite beautiful. See more of his work here.

I'd seen the lovely woven cane lampshades and cactuses by Michelle Petrie of Abode, but these modular shelvings systems were new, and I like them a lot.

I was rather intrigued by the complex work of Pieter Henning of MockMock. This coated steel table is rather special, I thought. Their website's not up yet, and these tables are still prototypes, but should you stumble upon this in the future (the near future, I hope), click here and you might be able to find out more.
The Zenzulu stand was very zen - it only had three pieces on it! But what amazing pieces they were. The three intricate wire wall sculptures are part of their Jungle collection, and really, these photos hardly do them justice at all.

There was more intricate weaving at the Aid to Artisans stall too. These come from KwaZulu Natal, who seems to be the place for weaving champs.

Really, these few pics hardly make a dent in what was on offer, and it's likely that I didn't even manage to see the lot. Next February, make sure you're in Cape Town to attend the Design Indaba and Expo. You'll be so glad you did.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Design Indaba 09 : Day 2

While the talks I saw on day 1 of the Design Indaba were all engaging with the ethics of design in the real world, the talks I saw on Thursday were all situated right on the needlesharp tip of the high end, where fantasy, imagination, excellence and large budgets meet.

The people I heard speak are so ridiculously famous that it would be silly of me to do a rundown of their work here. However, each one impressed me with one or other thing, possibly worth relating here:

Barber Osgerby - Excellence in process and product
First, I caught the tail end of design duo Barber Osgerby speaking. They were describing the incredibly process-intensive process of making a prototype of this table, involving milling and anodizing hundreds of individual aluminium units that eventually bolt together, partially using magnets. It really was amazing to hear designers talking about the nitty gritty of the process, illustrating how much very hard, hard work goes into realising a high-end product such as this.

Patricia Urquiola - Where flamboyance and simplicity meet
It's something that also arose in Patricia Urquiola's incredibly jam-packed talk, delivered with breathtaking speed and charm: these high-end products often are years in production. The impression, especially with someone as prolific as Urquiola, could be that her designs are churned out, while in fact there's an extensive behind-the-scenes process that takes a lot of time, passion and hard work.

Talking of passion, I liked the way Urquiola paused in her breakneck delivery to tell us how this or that piece carried a lot of emotion for her. And talking of emotion, I'm passionately in love with her Flo Easy Chair (above) and the Tropicalia chair (below).

Ferran Adria - Rigour and honesty
Another Spaniard was up after this - the very charismatic Ferran Adria - the genius behind ElBulli. His committment to exploration in his innovation in a design field as ephemeral as food is quite astonishing, particularly for a non-foodie like me. I couldn't help feeling some sympathy for whoever the Design Indaba had appointed to find lunch for Ferran Adria. What a frightening job description!
Black sesame sponge cake with miso (image from Chubby Hubby)

Marcel Wanders - Fabulous and fun
Lastl up was Marcel Wanders, who says "fabulous" and "fun" a lot. He's clearly a flamboyant and playful personality, and this comes across in his work. There's a sense that, perched as he is on the tip top of the high end, he feels the freedom to do pretty much whatever he likes. And sometimes he does just that, as with his Airborne Snotty vase series, based on high tech analysis of the flying droplets of a sneeze.

But also, he uses his freedom to makes sublimely lovely and rare things, like the Fishnet Chair, only available in a limited edition of 20.

So that's my impressions of the high end so far at the Design Indaba this year. I'll be back again with Expo news soon.