PEOPLE WE LOVE


I met with Ploy and Guy back in November 2017, shortly before their baby was due, and have been so busy with the operational side of Design Store since that I've only now got the chance to finally share this amazing home visit with you.

Can you introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about the story of this house?

We own a lighting design company in Cape Town called Hoi P'loy. We found our home after many years of searching for the right place when we were introduced to the previous owner through a mutual friend. At the time we were traveling through Italy, and it just so happened that the owner had moved to a nearby small village in Tuscany a year earlier. Kismet? When we got back to Cape Town we popped by to see the house and instantly fell in love. We asked if she'd be interested in selling, and everything fell into place! Within a few months we had bought the house and moved in. 

How would you define your style in terms of decoration?

During the time we were looking for a house we had been focusing on a shell that we could make our own. In the end the house we found was so close to our own style that we didn't have to do much at all. I suppose an eclectic blend of old and new would be something we naturally gravitate towards. We value the soul often present in items of a bygone era but then we are also seduced by the functionality and clean, minimal lines of contemporary aesthetic. At the end of the day a welcoming sense of comfort is important, and we try to find a balance between those two worlds.

With a little one on the way what are the changes you might be looking to implement from a design perspective?

The previous owner had two children, a teenager, and a young toddler. As a passionate interior designer she'd already designed the house around her children which is a great benefit to us. For example the baby's bedroom had a custom printed wallpaper from a vintage illustrated French children's book. There's also a built in "bunk/loft bed" in the playroom which I would have been nuts about as a teenager. In terms of changes there's one primary part that we've been hoping to upgrade since we moved into this house. That is to replace the very worn out wooden floors with a new hardwood floor, as well as to install a timber deck outside which might be more child friendly than the cobblestone courtyard that we currently have.

What is the most beautiful thing you own?

Beauty comes down to individual taste. An emotional connection one has to an item can often evoke a sense of beauty that others may overlook. (Ploy) I'd say our seal-point munchkin cat, Leroy. For me (Guy) it would be a ceramic sculpture that my father made of my mother's face from before I was born.

What items would you buy if you had R500, R5000 and then R50’000?

R 500 Shopping spree at the Milnerton Market

R 5 000 Hepper Cat Bed

R 50 000 Wooden deck for our courtyard

If you could have invented anything, what would it be?

There are many things... Today I'll say a type of brass that doesn't oxidize in its natural state.

How would you define or introduce your work?

We draw on traditional production values and materials and marry them with contemporary aesthetics to create pieces that have one foot in the past and the other in the future.

When do you think up your best ideas?

When there are clear problems at hand that evoke very specific solutions. The majority of our designs have not been created in a romantic sketch book or drawing board, but rather in the moment when an unexpected challenge presents itself as a way of solving practical problems. These ideas have their roots in functionality, and aesthetics are often just the icing on top.

How do you feel about South African design?

The strong sense of community and support that's evolved amongst local designers over the past few years has been a big part of what inspires the industry to keep growing and maturing. We feel honoured and excited to be a part of that.

If you could live anywhere in the world for one year, where would it be?

Japan. We're both enchanted by the country's sophisticated culture. I spent two months there a few years ago, and developed an immense admiration for the integrity with which each person in society approaches their work, no matter how seemingly insignificant or important their role might be. We long for an homogeneous environment like that in which to create and produce. The sense of trust in all the components that make up a well-functioning society is something that we're always dreaming of.  

 

 

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After a short hiatus Design Store's series of designer interviews are back on track. This time I went to visit the Cape Town City Bowl home of design duo Cinthia and Pierre Strydom from furniture brand BIRBA. 

How long have you been together? And when did your cat join the family?

Cinthia We’ve been together for seven years and married for five. We adopted Chenin our cat two years ago and are not very sure how old is she as we adopted her from the street in front of our building and she was already an adult cat.

There seems to be a lot of really cool gadgets and items in your house, can you tell us more about them? Were some of them collected on your travels perhaps?

Cinthia We worked on a Cruise Line travelling around the world for about three years and during our travels we enjoyed buying fridge magnets for all the new places we’ve been. From some places we collected some iconic little souvenirs as well, like the Matryoshka Doll from Russia and the Dancing Hula girl from Hawaii. Pierre is a wine lover so we like to keep in the house some special bottles in a little wine fridge; we transformed our garage storage room in a wine cellar as well. From our love from wine and spirits Pierre started his own gin, Bloedlemoen, so we added a dehydrator to our kitchen décor as we are constantly drying blood oranges for the distillation. I think it is easy to say that our gadgets come from things we love and hobbies we take, as we like to surround ourselves with things that make us happy and feel homey.

What is your favourite object in your house?

Pierre For me it’s our Bullet Planter that together with the brightly coloured wall and a beautiful painting from Frans Smit, turns a dull and empty corner with no use into a beautiful space.

Cinthia I love the cake topper that we used on our wedding day, which was made by a local artist in Brazil.

You have a range of designs from pillows and some unique paintings - can you tell us more about them?

Cinthia The pillows are from Missibaba and we absolutely love them. The paintings are from our talented friend Frans Smit and we have been collecting them for a while now as every time he releases a new collection we just fall in love.

How did BIRBA's name come to be?

Pierre Our favorite style is mid-century modern and we were very intrigued by the work of Richard Neutra in Palm Springs California. During one of our searches we came across a restaurant over there from the 50’s called Birba where all the famous people use to dine. We loved the name and lately discovered that it means rascal in Italian, so we were sold.

Where do you draw your inspirations from, in terms of BIRBA’s designs?

Pierre Inspiration comes from the most diverse things; I personally get inspiration from the mid-century and not only the furniture but fashion, cars, accessories and so on. I find that travelling or just visiting new places is an amazing font of inspiration. This past holiday I enjoyed being a tourist in Cape Town and it allowed me to see things differently, to see beauty in places that I usually just pass by and it made me think of new ideas. 

What is next for BIRBA, do you have any projects or plans?

Cinthia BIRBA launched a new collection earlier in 2017 focusing on smaller décor pieces and furniture items made of fibreglass – our latest obsession. Have a look at the new fiberglass dining chairs and Bullet Planters available through Design Store here.

Credits: Brett Charles-Seiler

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My second home interview and shoot for Design Store's series of designer interviews sent me to visit the home of husband and wife team from The Artisan. Ingrid Auret and Jovan Geldenhuys share their house with an array of four-legged children and love life in Cape Town's City Bowl. 

When did you move into your house?

Ingrid We moved in on the 1st of November 2014, just after we get married in October that year. We were so lucky that everything worked out so that we can move into our very own little house after getting married.

You made hooks for your jackets, a knife holder and a clock - is there anything else you have repurposed or made?

Ingrid The clock in our kitchen is actually the backside of a pizza board! We also have some The Artisan copper hooks all over the house; our kitchen light was made by Jovan and also some few smaller furniture items throughout the house - like the side tables in the guest bedroom and the very simple dressing table in the main bedroom.

Do you have a favourite object?

Ingrid I don't know if it counts, but our gas hob! I love cooking and have always had to do use solid stove plates which are the absolute worst! So at the beginning of this year we replaced our hob with a gas one and it has been one of the best changes we've made to the house! Also, the fireplace!

Jovan For me it has to be our Nespresso machine, fireplace and the beautiful, round, brass mirror that Ingrid had made for the lounge.

Where do you get your inspirations from?

Ingrid Beautiful things, colour (even though our house is quite monochromatic). And of course Pinterest for home DIY inspiration!

What are all your pets’ names?

Ingrid We have two doggies, a boy named Omo and a girl named Maya and two bunnies, a boy named Roger (because Roger rabbit...) and a girl, Eva. They are all so cool and contribute so much to our little family.

Can you explain how the name The Artisan came to be?

Jovan Choosing a name for a business has got to be the most difficult part of starting a business! It has to be original, but not too complicated and long... So we basically looked for words that have something to do with creating things. An artisan creates things using his hands and all our products are hand-made. It just worked so well with the vision we had for the business.

What attracts you to copper and lighting?

Ingrid We found that, at the time of starting The Artisan, there were no local designers doing affordable lighting. Sure you could find a locally made lamp, if you were prepared to pay R8000 for one bedside lamp. We didn't see the point in this and found that there was a major gap in the market for locally designed, hand-made, affordable lighting. Copper was the big trend when we started so we went with that, it is such an amazing metal, the colour is just divine. We are moving towards incorporating more brass mixed with black and white now.

Are you working on any projects now or in the future that you are excited about?

Jovan We have so many custom projects at the moment, which really is such a dream come true for us. Creating beautiful pieces with customers for their personal spaces was the goal all along. So we are very excited about being given these opportunities to work with all these wonderful creatives and making beautiful lights.

Credits: Brett Charles-Seiler

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The first visit which I undertook for Design Store's series of designer interviews, led me to meet with the lovely Sera Holland from the textile brand, Handmadebyme. Sera shares her home in Vredehoek with her husband. Sera's pretty designs adorn all things related to your home - think cushions, napkins, table runners, placemats...the list goes on.

You said you just recently moved in, how long have you been living here? And what was the first object you put out? 

Sera We have only been in our new apartment for a handful of months, one of which we were away for so it’s all very new. I think the first thing we put out was our fern who we fondly call Ferndinand. Weirdly enough our old apartment was almost identical in shape to our new one so we almost knew already where everything would go. The first thing we did was work out how to arrange our lounge, it was slightly smaller than the last one so we had to get rid of a couch and move things around a bit.

Where do you spend most of your time in your apartment? 

Sera In the combined living area between the lounge, balcony, kitchen and dining room. We love our new open plan space and we never had a balcony before so any excuse to sit out there when the wind isn't blowing!

If you could have anything else to put in your home, what would it be? 

Sera Shelves! I am desperate for some shelves and some self-standing shelving units for all our books and a new coffee table at some stage! 

Does the area inspire you and your work? 

Sera I do love living at the foot of the mountain surrounded by beautiful fynbos with a view of and across the sprawling city with the ocean in the background. We often go walking up the mountain behind our flat which has the most sensational views of the city as well as a sense of space that I find very inspiring.

If you could describe your work in three words - what would they be?

Sera Fun, colourful and bold.

You have so many beautiful plants, where did they all come from? 

Sera Well, I am lucky enough to share my shop with the very talented Alex of Windowsill (plants and flowers); every time she brings in new stock I have to try very hard not to bring them all home with me. I very often do. As I mentioned earlier, we now have a balcony so we're also very excited to finally try and grow a few herbs and veggies.

Are there any other designers you are inspired by? 

Sera I'm mostly inspired by fashion, interiors and art from around South Africa, and Africa too, but also from around the world. High fashion is what really excites me; the list of names goes on forever and changes with the seasons!

What is your favourite thing you have ever made?

Sera I have made quite a few favourite things, my first ever cushion cover that I sewed myself, my big plant and forest bowls that I made in pottery recently, but I guess the thing that I love the most right now is our wall hanging behind our front desk in the shop. 

What is next for Handmadebyme? 

Sera We're hoping that 2017 is going to be a very exciting year for us! Last year we opened our shop and introduced a lot of new products to our range, so this year we will definitely be adding some new designs to our collection. We also have a few exciting design jobs for clients lined up that we are really looking forward to working on.

Credits: Brett Charles Seiler

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Here at Design Store we've been a major fan of a French blog called The Socialite Family. As their own catchphrase states - "A sample of smart and cool families". Their blog is all about interviewing and taking award-winning photographs of creatives within their own homes. We like the idea of seeing what these designers have done with their own personal spaces. It's also refreshing not seeing overly-styled rooms (the photographs seem very true and honest) and getting to know a little bit about the designer and his/her family. Nothing against studio photos, but we just like the look and feel of what The Socialite Family have achieved. Perhaps check them out and fall in love with their brand too - The Socialite Family

OK, so we admit. We have poached the idea behind The Socialite Family (purely out of respect and total admiration), to host our very own designer interviews in their homes and photo essays. 

The designer interview series will be conducted by fine artist and all-round creative genius Brett Charles-Seiler. So Brett is the guy on the ground visiting Design Store designers in their homes, chatting to them and taking the beautiful photographs that you'll see on our blog. 

Since Design Store is all about bringing the consumer the best in South African design, all of the creatives that you'll get to know through these interviews are South Africans. 

We hope that you enjoy this series of designer interviews. 

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