Appliances, solar heaters and ceramic knives seem to dominate at this year’s Decorex, but amongst the more practical items there are also some exciting, well-executed, original products – many of them by as yet little-known designers. Here’s the pick of some of our favourites:
Cape Town Craft and Design Institute:
A number of innovative design products in one collective space. The CCDI assists with the product, business and marketing aspects of small and medium businesses, supplying burgeoning creative entrepreneurs with advice and business know-how. Exhibitions such as Decorex provide a platform for these entrepreneurs to gauge the market demand for their particular product.
The Tea Merchant:
The pick of all the food product stores, The Tea Merchant offers some beautifully packaged gourmet teabags as well as a number of elegant glass teapots which allow you to enjoy the colour of the tea as it leaks out of the loose tea leaves and swirls into the hot water, adding a design element to the tea-making ritual.
One of the CCDI microbusiness that is receiving a lot interest. Particularly enticing are the bamboo bowls, bamboo table lamps and organic wooden tables, all of which would fit effortlessly into any home.
Under the CCDI umbrella, Mike Richards handcrafts each of his pens with great attention to detail from wood that is locally sourced, or even ‘rescued’ from commercial off cuts. The gnarled Constantia grapevine was one of our favourites – the sort of pen to inspire the writing of the great South African novel. Richards’ focus on craftmanship dictates a low rate of production as he only trusts himself and his son to develop such a fine product. Such integrity risks placing his craft above his business success, but is proving sustainable as demand is high. Personality Pens can be found at Stable on Loop Street.
Smartliving Flameless Candles:
LED bulbed candles, whose many coloured flames can be adjusted through remote control, may sound quite kitsch. But when set to natural candlelight mode, the light emitted through the wax structure has its own curious appeal. Decorex is a rare chance to see these candles ‘in the flesh’ as Smartliving is one of the many small businesses who keep their overheads low by selling exclusively through an online store (www.epromo.co.za).
Another individual stand at the CCDI, Hemma Furniture’s birch ply Trestle Table is created from 9 layers of plywood of which the top layer can be selected from a number of colours. Hemma is concerned with creating an environmentally friendly product and its trestle table is locally produced, containing water-based varnish.
This company produces synthetic wicker outdoor furniture. Rather than trying to create a product that resembles natural wicker, it instead produces over 20 colours in bright green, red, turquoise and even glittering rattan. While synthetic wicker is not an entirely new product, the company’s desire to create new colours and individual custom designs serves to breathe a sense of fun into this material.
Woven from a thick, navy ribbon, Moonbasket’s crocheted rug is utterly beguiling. One of 100 prototypes by 100 designers in the 100% Design section (sponsored by Dauphin HumanDesign Group), the rug is made up of a series of hexagonal crocheted pieces sewn together to create one beautiful piece that is both decorative and yet durable.
Also found in the 100% Design section are a series of individual small, brass, hexagonal tables which, when placed together, can operate as one intriguing object. Now in his 22nd year as a professional designer, Haldane Martin has managed to retain the edge of an emerging creator and continues to surprise with new and exciting designs, never allowing himself to rest on his laurels, never repeating something that worked in the past. Young designers, take note.
Decorex Cape Town ran at the CTICC from 25 to 28 April 2014.