In the June 2017 edition of House and Leisure, we highlight four creatives who exemplify the freshest South African design talent. Read an extended Q&A with one such rising star – Denny Mo – below, and get your copy of our latest issue for more.
Denny has combined his passion for plants, landscapes and geometrics in his terrarium company Angles+Earth. It was his obsession with nature that led him to seek out a way to bottle it, resulting in creations he describes as ‘landscapes in functional geometric glass’. Read more about Angels+Earth’s new store in Cape Town, here.
Which three words describe your work? Design, nature, function.
Who inspires you? My grandfather. He’s a famous Taiwanese calligrapher and his work is still featured in town halls in my hometown Hsin Chu in Taiwan.
Where in the world do you most like to be? Right here in Cape Town. I’ve travelled the world and there isn’t another city quite like this one. I surf in the ocean, roam in the forests and live in the city, and can do all of this within a 20km radius.
What’s your go-to comfort food? Magwinya, which is an African version of the vetkoek. I have a glass studio in Khayelitsha and often walk around exploring the food and people. For R15 you can get fried dough, processed cheese, dodgy polony and fake tomato sauce. It’s a great source of heart attacks.
Is there such a thing as South African style? Of course. South African style isn’t defined by the use of bright colours, African beads or tin wires; it lies in the spirit of making something out of nothing. We don’t have the technology or resources available in other countries, but we do have the willingness to bend things to make them work. Like all South Africans say, ‘We’ll make a plan!’ I love hearing this.
What is your favourite building in the world? The Gherkin in London, whose briolette form inspired me to make a terrarium after it. It took a year to get it right thanks to the tricky egg shape, but it’s a marvel.
Do you have a design hero? Inventors Nikola Tesla and Sir James Dyson. Design isn’t just graphic or aesthetic, but it lives in a functional sense, too. Great design is amazing, but functional design is a completely different story.
What’s your best time of day? 3am. I’m still awake, the whole world is asleep and my phone doesn’t ring, so I can focus.
What can’t you live without? My fiancé, my dog Cabbage, my surfboard and my e-cigarette.
What excites you about the future? Nanotechnology. I’ve been playing around with product design and am trying combine my work with nanoelectronics. The aim is that one day I’ll be able to create a terrarium that can water and light itself all with a touch of your phone.
Watch this space for more design newcomers.