Maid in Africa
If you haven’t already come across their bold fabric designs, Maid in Africa is a proudly local textile business run by husband-and-wife duo, Micha and Andrew Weir. House and Leisure chatted to the pair about the bright and beautiful creations and how they’re highlighting the positives of life in South Africa… Could you tell us about the origins of Maid in Africa? Maid in Africa was started as a means to generate extra work and income for Priscilla, a domestic worker who lost her job when diagnosed HIV positive. While still working in advertising and social development (Andrew was the top advertising man in Namibia), we started silkscreen printing and painting on our kitchen table, employing former street vendors through Micha’s development work at the Big Issue. What is the meaning behind the name Maid in Africa and what message do you want to convey about local design? Our products are all Made in Africa. We founded the business in order to find extra work for a domestic worker, thus ‘Maid In Africa’ was born. The playful use of ‘Maid’ with its strong association with southern African way of life was to celebrate those that are often overlooked. Our message is always to stay true and reflect the simple things that make Africa unique. We love the humour present in your designs and the use of familiar local landmarks and products. What is the thinking behind this? There are so many products out there – we identify ourselves with a need to look at things in a different light and to maybe question them. We celebrate free enterprise and free-range chicken with our township prints and ‘save our southern rights’ with a whalebone corset. We use every day brands that have become part of our African identity with Marmite, Get Rich and Lucky Star, and celebrate Table Mountain with a series of Fable Mountain prints featuring Heidi and Spiderman. Humour keeps us sane in a world so insane, decadent and divided. There is currently a focus on South African inspired fabrics, comprising beautiful graphic prints. What do you think makes these designs so contemporary? Africa has always inspired the world – from Picasso to colonial dreams. While Europe is in recession, bored by consumerism and in need of inspiration, Africa is developing, vibrant and diverse. Humankind originated in Africa and its nature and diversity still motivates us and makes us relevant. Tell us about your product range and choice of textiles. We have quite a large range of products from textiles, posters and postcards to coasters and wallpaper. We also have finished items such as cushion covers, aprons, ironing boards and a range of fashionable clothing. We use silkscreen, hand-painted and digital printing techniques. All our textiles are printed on pure cotton. Our diversity is a reflection of the space we live in. And your preferred colour palette? You seem to favour bright, bold colours? There is more to Africa than 50 shades of khaki. We take our colour inspiration from townships, nature and the bright African sun. Finally, where can our readers find your products locally? At Moyo, Artvark and at our home in Gardens, Cape Town. Maid in Africa produce items to order and pricing will be determined according to the client’s specifications for each job. Digital printed fabric is R700 per metre, but if ordering more than one metre, pricing can be negotiated. Remember, hand-printed or silkscreened work is often cheaper. To read more about this vibrant brand or to see their full product range visit maidinafrica.com or their Facebook page.