Saturday, February 28, 2015

Design Indaba Expo 2015 - Beads on a Necklace

So many beautiful things and eyes only big enough to hold a part of it!
Design Indaba Expo really needs to be visited several times to be able to take it all in. If you’re like me and prone to overwhelm after a couple of hours, there’s just no way of seeing and appreciating everything.

I went this morning with my sister-in-law, who has worked in the craft and design industry for many years and knows lots of people involved. Our morning turned out like a string of beads on a necklace, stories and beautiful objects interlaced to create a very personal impression of the whole. I'll share a few of the beads that grabbed my eye and ear and leave the birds-eye comprehensive picture to others with more experience of the scene.

So much depends on the random direction you take at the beginning of an exhibition, that first half hour when you are fresh and full of interest in everything reaps the most enthusiasm and excitement. After three hours when feet are tired and brain overloaded, you hardly notice things that would have delighted you earlier.

My first memory bead is made up of these gorgeous fabric designs by Design Team – lovely colours, modern African imagery.

 Then stunning mohair weaves and dyes from Hinterveld in the Eastern Cape – soft 75% mohair. My SIL fell in love with a rich blue blanket, tie dyed with a ripple pattern and one of a kind that was on sale having been made as a private label for a company that never took it up.

Touchee Feelee’s stunning hand-painted images digitally printed on to top quality fabric really stood out, even among a sea of other cushion and fabric creations.

Then I came across a project I’ve been reading about online recently– the EcoBrick Exchange, who are aiming to build a school in the Eastern Cape with their stunningly simple idea of combining recycling and sustainable building by using plastic soda bottles stuffed full of non-recyclable inorganic waste, as building materials. They are also making shelves, furniture and all sorts from these free building blocks and need more sustained funding and support to get their school completed.

And I was in awe of this floating ceiling of books at the Book Exchange, which is raising funds by selling and accepting donations of pre-loved books to provide a library for a local primary school.

 Perhaps my favourite single piece of the day, because its concept to me encompasses life the universe and everything, was this turned wood potjie pot sculpture. The potjie pot is such an iconic South African everyday item and here it is an exact replica made in wood, but if you look inside there’s an astronaut floating in space in the base and tiny cave paintings all the way around. It’s called FuturePast  by Mlonolozi Hempe and Atang Tshikare. The photos really don't do it justice or show the tactile nature of the wood grain - I just loved it. More about the collaboration and better photos of the piece here.

 A story all by itself is the Dreams for Africa Chair. A true icon, this is a chair that has travelled and been photographed with all sort of famous people and ordinary people all round the world. Created by beading project Woza Moya, it developed wings and an independent spirit of its own and now, after being an ambassador for South Africa for several years, it has been purchased by a collector who will give it an honourable place to rest its wings. We talked for ages to Paula Thomson, who was the project co-ordinator and the chair's guardian, and there is something of the mythical and other worldly about the whole story.

 The last bead that shines brightly came from Monkeybiz . Last year’s Design Indaba brought them to the attention of the Haas Brothers which has culminated in the dynamic collaboration at GUILD that I wrote about in my last post. We chatted to Joan Krupp, who was bubbling with energy after a visit to the stand from Rosita Missoni, who at 84 is still full of energy and had just given an inspiring talk at the DI Conference. The dynamic founder of Italian fashion and design company Missoni was comparing the intricate bead designs of Monkeybiz lions and animals to the knitwear patterns that made Missoni’s name and was really taken with the Monkeybiz menagerie.

So exciting to feel that Cape Town is attracting international figures of this stature – it really is a world design capital in fact as well as name!

Tomorrow, Sunday 1st March is the last day of Design Indaba Expo, so if you're in Cape Town get along to the CTICC. You'll make a thousand discoveries, probably all different from mine and come away dazzled with beauty and colour.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kit! Thanks for sharing this - awesome stuff! I love the building with bottles idea... there's a temple in Thailand that the monks built completely out of beer bottles... it's here:


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!