One always has a keen sense of anticipation when walking towards a show put together by 100% Design South Africa curator Cathy O’Clery. And at Decorex Cape Town this past weekend, arriving at the actual We are Cape Town show transformed that eager anticipation into pure pleasure – We are Cape Town, the 100% Design South Africa offering here, was simply superb.
O’Clery had asked a variety of Cape Town-based designers and makers to collaborate on new products, and the various groups all responded with a variety of beautiful (and utterly covetable) items that combined their strengths in fresh and original ways.
Previewed in House and Leisure’s May 2017 issue was a collaborative group including creative talents who regularly collaborate with Michael Chandler of Chandler House. Among them are artists Patricia Fraser and Lucie de Moyencourt, and on show here were the latter’s eye-catching brushstrokes adorning a blue-and-white tiled panel she created in collaboration with Chandler, and the former’s linocuts used to imprint textural designs onto delicate porcelain vessels by Lisa Firer. Fraser’s hand-painted The Cape of Good Hope chair, upholstered by William Tough, was yet another item to be added to our wish list.
But we were only just getting started. Close by was a display showcasing fabric designer David Bellamy’s latest work – expressive, linear and perfect for re-upholstering those Mid-Century Modern treasures – on which he had collaborated with Cathy Stanley, of the Keiskamma Art Project, and artist Gregory Stock.
Then there were the gorgeous new ceramic lampshades and bowls by Andile Dyalvane and Zizipho Poswa of Imiso Ceramics, as well as Clementina van der Walt’s and Peta Becker’s sculptural, pared-back ceramic creations, expertly lit from above by Hoi P’loy’s bold brass lights.
Also wowing the crowd were Robin Sprong’s ultra-colourful new wallpapers, created with Francois Mostert, Ed Suter, Sarah Ord, Tiphaine Alston, Nina and Michelle van Reenen of Room 13, as well as Gillian Fuller.
One of the most Instagrammed sections of the show featured a collaboration between Laurie Wiid van Heerden and Ceramic Matters. Two of the sexiest little sidetables we’ve seen in a while – with simple yet sensuous metal frames topped with custom-made, glazed ceramic tiles – were complemented by a show-stopping dining table with adjustable extensions in the same materials. The fact that the tiles all featured an elegant, up-to-the-minute shade of green just made them all the more desirable.
A final highlight was the remarkable ‘Leifo’ chair, an Afrofuturistic collaboration between artist-designer Atang Tshikare and Eve Collett of Casamento. With its intricately woven back, beaded and tasselled detailing and great backstory, this is a chair we think you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future. For starters, check it out in our July 2017 print magazine.
As O’Clery pointed out during her charming and informative walkabout of the exhibition, what came through most strongly across the entire show was a sense of just how much all the participants had enjoyed the process of collaboration, and that there was a strong sense of ‘heart’ evident in each and every one of the creations on display.
Other highlights of this year’s Cape Town edition of Decorex as a whole included the bold and brilliantly curated MRP Home stand, which featured plush textures, rich shades of blue and a series of seriously covetable mirrors, all wrapped up with the brand’s credo that ‘good design shouldn’t cost you more’.
Bravo to MRP Home and also to fabric designers Lise Butler and Amanda Haupt of Design Team. Their stand officially launched their gorgeous new fabric range, My Succulent Garden, which takes inspiration from a wide variety of succulents to create one of the coolest collections we’ve ever seen from this talented duo – and given their 17-year legacy of creating original and stylish local fabric designs, that’s really saying something.