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Q&A: Hemma

We chatted to Tharine Theron of Hemma Furniture about what inspires her designs and what we can expect to see from this luxury local brand in 2014. Tell us more about Hemma Furniture. Hemma stemmed from a decision to diversify and a desire to explore new areas of our industry. The direction of the business is a reflection of our personal directions and a belief that as the way we live changes, new needs arise. Our focus is on un-fussy, cost-effective and practical pieces that have already become part of our way of living. What is it about Scandinavian design that inspires your work? We like to formulate designs that work. The Scandinavians have almost made this a social responsibility, so there is always plenty of inspiration to be found there. Their strong commitment to creating designs that are accessible on many levels is probably what we would most like to emulate. What are the benefits in working with birch plywood? Birch plywood is in many ways a blank canvas. It’s a strong, stable, machine-ready material with so many possibilities just waiting to be discovered. We can coat it, laminate it, colour and bend it, which gives us plenty of scope for exciting products. The fact that it is sustainably produced makes it all the more attractive. How important do you think functionality is in design? For us, functionality has its own beauty and is vital to the conceptual and physical sustainability of a product. In being built around a need first, we think our pieces become attractive in their usefulness. Which one of your pieces did you enjoy designing the most, and why? The Occasional Table was our first piece. It is a classical design with a modern feel that can be flat-packed. It did in some ways help us confirm the direction of Hemma. What’s next for Hemma? We will certainly be adding a few more pieces to our current range, concentrating on flat-packed furniture. Together with this we are very much looking forward to taking part in an exhibition in Gauteng this year. For more information about Hemma Furniture, visit Interviewed by Lindi Brownell Meiring Photographs Charles Russell