decor, Fabric and Wallpaper

iSpy Fabrics

HL chatted to Lauren Frates, the textile designer behind iSpy in Knysna about her proudly South African, handmade fabrics. What’s the inspiration behind your textile designs? I believe my graphic design training has had a strong influence on the way I design. I'm drawn to things, whether natural or manmade, which have a structural or architectural quality. My designs incorporate simple shapes, playing with positive and negative space. I also have an appreciation for 1950s and Scandinavian design. The simplicity of shapes and the fresh colour palettes really resound with me. What do you love most about creating these designs? Seth Godin said, ‘Don't create for the masses. Create for the people who are your kind of weird.’ This was my mantra long before I'd ever come across this quote (he just phrases it really well). I started off creating things I would like, simply because I enjoyed the process and loved the satisfaction of turning a small idea into something beautiful and tactile. I love the whole process, and hope others can see how much joy goes into my designs. The idea of an item being handmade from beginning to end is important to you. Why is this? All iSpy fabrics are professionally printed by a company in Cape Town, using traditional silk-screen methods. While studying, I was introduced to silk screening and ever since, I've had an appreciation for the skill required to produce a 'perfect' print. What's really wonderful about a technique like silk screening, is that no two prints are exactly alike, imbruing the finished product with character, creating something that can't be duplicated. All sewing is done by a talented Knysna local. During these tough times, I believe it's more important than ever to make use of local artisans, particularly in a small town like Knysna, where work is even harder to come by. It's about supporting those with specialist skills and talents, ultimately creating a product which is beautiful, desirable, special – and 100% South African. For more information about iSpy fabrics and to order, contact Lauren via