South African urban property developer, Blok has been at the forefront of aesthetic, functional design since its inception in 2014. Having launched nine flagship properties, they have also played an active role in a range of urban intervention projects including Thornhill Park in Green Point and the Regent Road parklet in Cape Town. A bicycle parking solution for Sea Point’s popular seaside walkway, the Promenade, is under way.
Blok’s most recent project, Konnect, is a design network – a collaborative showcase of local designers who have been handpicked for their creativity and shared design passion. The Konnect designers are Jasper Eales, North Ltd, Stockton and Matblac – all of whom have come together to produce limited edition pieces that represent some of the best local work in the functional design arena. These once-off pieces are showcased in the Blok exhibition space at 51 Regent Road, Sea Point.
We interviewed Lior van Embden, Sales and Marketing Manager of Blok Urban Property Developers, to find out more about this initiative.
What inspired you to establish Konnect?
At Blok, we’ve always had aspirations that have extended beyond property development. Design is such a big part of where our passion for urbanism stems from, and we’ve been thinking of ways in which to engage with local design without being seen as trying to own it. The creation of a design network that elevates local designers was the solution, and Konnect was born.
What drew you to the particular designers you selected to be a part of this collective?
There are so many incredibly talented local designers whom we have had the privilege to work with over the last few years, so choosing who to include in the first range was difficult! But, in the end we allowed the design brief to lead the choice of designers; we invited designers whose strengths lay in what the brief demanded.
What is your favourite piece by each of the designers?
SOFA SADDLE BY MATBLAC
All Form. All Function. All at once this compact living essential will remove clutter from your coffee table and created a dedicated area for those ‘you time’ items to be found. (Source: blok.co.za)
ROLL UP BY STOCKTON
The Roll Up is a nifty little leather carrier used to carry rolled up items like your yoga mats or picnic blankets. This high quality leather carrier has a handle as well as a strap to sling over your shoulders, ensuring you look stylish no matter how you choose to carry it. The Roll Up securely carries items with easy-to-use fasteners. Simply hook, pull, tighten and you’re good to go. (Source: blok.co.za)
LAY OUT BY STOCKTON
The beauty of these high quality, handcrafted placemats lies in their simplicity. While evoking that vintage leather feel, Lay Out’s contemporary design fits perfectly in the modern home. Enhancing the table setting rather than overpowering it means these versatile placemats never go out of style. Plus, they’re easy to take care of with a simple wipe. See? Simplicity. (Source: blok.co.za)
THE LOOP BY NORTH LTD
A piece that will complement the rest of your lounge suite, the Loop has been designed to be used either in a reclining position or in a more upright position – let your mood, or book decide. (Source: blok.co.za)
THE BAU BY NORTH LTD
Bau has been designed to be used on both sides with the angle of the upright and the height of the crossbars determining your state of sit. (Source: blok.co.za)
THE ROCA BY NORTH LTD
The Roca has been designed to not only be a beautiful addition to your home, but to be an even better object to use. Naturally tanned leather hand-stitched to support you while reading, relaxing, or dozing. (Source: blok.co.za)
CLIMB BY JASPER EALES
Compact urban living is rapidly becoming the norm and product design needs to follow suit. Climb challenges conventional thinking of bikes being kept in the garage and enables you to create a feature of it in your living space, while bringing further functionality to that specific area, with a shelf, coat/hat hook, book-end and light all built into the design. (Source: blok.co.za)
Not every designer has produced multiple pieces. Also we don’t have a favourite, they all are so different yet so complimentary of one another within the context of the urban home.
How does Konnect fit into the bigger picture of South African design? How do you see it playing a role in the development of the industry?
Whilst designers do get to work in a creative world, sometimes the commercial demands of running a design-led business do not allow for ultimate creativity. By engaging with our designers, we’ve noticed that all of them have ideas they’ve been nesting for years but haven’t had the chance to develop commercially. We hope that Konnect will provide an outlet for such creativity and passion projects and give them their deserving stage.
What lies ahead for Konnect?
Because of the creative nature of the platform’s processes and end products, we want to harness a dynamic energy and keep the growth organic. We are planning to launch 2 ranges a year and keep each range unique and exciting as well as responsive to urban trends and seasons. We are looking to invite other creatives, established or emerging, to the platform as well.
To find out more, visit blok.co.za/design/konnect.