News and Trends

design indaba expo

Every year we look forward to rubbing shoulders with South Africa’s wealth of talent at this annual celebration of homegrown design. This year’s Design Indaba Expo again saw a gathering of the country’s established names alongside the rising stars and new faces to watch on the design scene (the Emerging Creatives stands often feature some of the most exciting never-before-seen stuff out there), from which we’ve picked a handful of our favourite products on show. We loved the broad mix of styles and influences that infiltrated the many pieces that stood out for us, not to mention the innovation and freshness that continues to shine through in South African design, whether craft or contemporary.

Bright and bold Langazela cushions by Africa!Ignite, a non-profit rural development agency based in Durban. Developed by Manoushka Kraal and ‘mastercrafter’ Bertinah Khumalo, they were hand embroidered with wool on recycled corn bags by crafters in rural KZN.

Western Cape designer David Clark-Brown’s intricately detailed Bucket of Flowers, carved from a plastic cooking-oil bucket is a clever example of how everyday items can be repurposed.

Old-school rules with this Skool Lampshade by emerging Durban design studio Mr Fox (Zayne Holl and Brad Wedderburn) made from wooden rulers and for use as a pendant or on a lamp stand.

Cape Town surface designer Tersia Fisher’s one-off sculptural cushions, made from bull-denim cotton and painstakingly hand stitched, ‘emulate the contours of nature’ - in this piece, ‘Time’, it’s the contours of a seashell specifically.

Pretoria designer Christa Badenhorst uses recycled textile waste to create the unique vessels that form part of her Smeul range. The base structure is made from paper and fabric maché, after which the structure is built up by adding layers of textiles and continuously stitching the structure.

We love the origami-esque Cloud and other lights by Johannesburg design studio Makers of Stuff, made from beech and bamboo. The work of these designers continues to impress (not least the cheeky ‘F*ck Red Velvet Cake’ and ‘Shut Up Architect’ posters also spotted at the expo – and which got our vote for being both cool and funny)…

Spotted at Li Edelkoort’s Totemism: Memphis Meets Africa exhibition, the CurioScape ceramic installations by Anja de Klerk of Curious Ceramics demand closer inspection – they’re informed by her interest in experimentation and play, and by ‘the unpredictability of the material processes’.

Zoleka Xekethwana, a graduate of the Spier Arts Academy’s (under the umbrella of Spier Architectural Arts) mosaic training programme, collaborated with jeweller Jolene Kritzinger to create these fine micro-mosaic pendants, made from marble, porcelain, ceramic and silver.

A reflection of our times, you can’t help but look twice at the designs featured on these handcrafted plates by Mervyn Gers Ceramics in Cape Town.

Similarly, the work of performance artist Phumulani Ntuli is both visually arresting and provocative. Check out his blog,

We definitely rate the quirky fabrics, ceramics and other decor items featuring skulls and bones created for The HANDS that Rock the Cradle project (of non-profit development organisation the Siyazisiza Trust). The project showcases the contribution of local craft designers to the tourism market in The Cradle of Humankind.

Wire-and-bead art is nothing new, but there wasn’t a single HL staffer who didn’t rave about the dazzling, life-size tiger trophy head by Netshomi Zam, a partnership between wire artist Mike Carella and Riaan Hannekom.

Last but certainly not least, all the work produced by Lyall Sprong and Marc Nicolson via their designer-maker consultancy, Thing King, gets our attention, especially these light-as-a-feather abstracted diamond mobiles. Their craftily curated stand rightly won the expo’s prize for Most Creative Stand. Bravo! Check out pages 40-44 in our May 2013 Easy Living issue - out on 22 April - to read our exclusive Design Indaba conference feature...