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hl next level 2018: textile designer marieke goncalves

Trevor Stuurman


The designer and founder of Novella Design, a Cape Town-based lifestyle brand, Marieke Goncalves finds craft techniques and handwork processes extremely inspiring. Novella Design has had its designs printed and installed as wallpaper in Sydney and one of its printed fabrics commissioned for the upholstery in a Nando’s concept store in Johannesburg. We’re looking forward to the studio’s latest floral-inspired textile collaboration with fellow Cape Town creatives.

how did you get started as a designer?

After studying design in both the Netherlands and Cape Town, I spent my first few working years with a local homeware retailer, before taking the plunge and starting my own entrepreneurial venture and the Novella brand in late 2016.

did you always want to be doing what you’re doing now? If not, what did you want to be when you were growing up?

I’ve almost always pictured myself in a creative role – from building furniture and painting rooms in my doll’s house, to saving pocket money to redecorate my bedroom. I’ve always had a love for homeware, furniture and interiors, and I suppose, inevitably knew I would end up heading that way.

do you have particular favourites among the works you’ve created?

I particularly love product development, and the process of figuring out how to take an idea from concept to final product, which means my latest product is usually my favourite – especially when it involves a new technique or material that I haven’t previously worked with. One of these experiments with computer numerical control (CNC) cutting and screen-printing on wood ended up becoming a favourite Novella item, the wooden safari set of toys.

what’s been your defining career moment to date?

From New Zealand to Switzerland, it’s always a highlight when stores from around the world ask to stock our products. It’s also fantastic when Novella designs are used to transform spaces and interiors we’ve had one of our designs printed and installed as wallpaper in Sydney, Australia, and one of our printed fabrics commissioned for the upholstery in a Nando’s concept store in Johannesburg.

which creatives are on your radar at the moment?

As I continue to grow my own business and brand, the creatives currently on my radar tend to have created brands with inspiring philosophies, models and approaches to business. Brands such as Jane Sews, for their approach to considered and thoughtful design on both a social and environmental level; Pedersen+Lennard, for their sustainable employment model and dedication to growing and developing the local design industry in Cape Town; and then Studio Pepe, for their forever on-point styling inspiration.

are there any artists you look up to?

Hella Jongerius, for her holistic approach to design across disciplines, her fusion of art, craft, design, tradition and technology, and her collaboration with artisans and craftspeople around the globe. And William Kentridge, for his multidisciplinary work, intriguing concepts, relevant topics and aesthetically inspiring visuals.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I love craft techniques and handwork processes. From woven baskets to weaving, embroidery, linocuts and block printing, I absolutely love the organic geometry, the natural variation and the graphic patterns that arise from these techniques, whether intended as decoration or not.

what is your earliest visual memory?

As a child, I absolutely loved colouring in, and one of my highlights was receiving a set of 72 Colleen pencil crayons – I can still distinctly remember the beautiful extra shades that fleshed out the otherwise standard 12-pack I had previously used!

which design event would you recommend people visit, and why?

Dutch Design Week has always been a creative highlight for me – having had the amazing opportunity of studying in Eindhoven, where Dutch Design Week is held, I was on a number of occasions able to take advantage of the cutting-edge and thought-provoking exhibitions, lectures and workshops. It’s always so inspiring to see what other young designers around the world are doing.

what is the next project that you are working on?

I’m currently working on a range of vintage and one-off woven West African textile cushions that I am really excited about, as well as a floral-inspired textile collab with some fellow Cape Town creatives.

Learn all about the game changers who are taking things to the Next Level in our #HLNEXTLEVEL2018  issue.