Friday, July 22, 2011

SA designers unite and create

I simply love it when creative South African people get together and create awesome designs for us to fill our homes with.

Below is the unedited version of my article on The Indalo Project, which appeared in the Horizons magazine.


Charles Darwin once said that ‘those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed’, and it seems that South African designers are following this growing trend.

More and more designers are getting involved in collaborative works, with either other designers or craftsmen. After 10 years of development work in craft, Patrick Schofield, founder of Streetwires began exploring ways to create a wider social impact with craft. The Indalo project was born out of this idea to combine creative talents and produce a range of products that will profit local craftsmen and create job opportunities.

‘‘We focused on two key areas, that of Design and Sales. If we could bring established designers together to work with craft producers to create unique international quality craft ranges we’d be half way there. If we could then partner with the craft producer groups to actively sell those ranges. We’d then have a model that would build real impact,’ said Patrick.

‘In January 2011, with 18 months of design and development work behind us, [plus funding from The Shared Growth Challenge Fund] we launched 13 ranges from 12 different producer groups [of which Streetwires is one], representing over 1 400 unique hand-made products.’

The Indalo collections currently offer a range of archetypical furniture, home d├ęcor, lighting, accessories, stationary and gifts, which can all be bought online through from anywhere in the world (delivery time is approximately 3-4 weeks).

When asked how the collaborations actually work, Patrick said that the key is to keep it simple. ‘Firstly, we partner craft producer groups with designers. They collaboratively work together to design and develop through to final ‘ready-for-market’, hand-crafted ranges. The Indalo Marketing Agency then takes over and gets out there to sell those ranges. The two arms of Indalo, working together drive development through actual sales, and sales, translate back into income for the craft producers and individual artisans.’

‘We brought in established designers with experience in different fields of design, from architecture to graphic illustration. Our key here was to look for designers who had already been successful and had proven themselves. That way, we had a much better chance of success in creating ranges that would sell, ‘ said Patrick

Already housing 510 direct and indirect beneficiaries under its umbrella, the Indalo Project aims to build long-term relationships while developing grassroots skills and job creation. Their goal for this year is to create 90 sales-based jobs as well as increased income for a further 270 craft artists and other employees.

‘Over the next five years we want to be part of the national objective to build a better economic society in Southern Africa. We’ll be working across South Africa in all provinces, building a community of designers, hand-made producers and marketing agents that together will create tangible positive change,’ said Patrick.

I love:

The Protea Range – offering a colourful collection of Protea-shaped lampshades, candleholders and floor lights – and the iSitho collection – offering a beautiful array of stools, benches and footstools – both designed by Nicci Drzewicki and produced by Netshomi Zam and Streetwires.

Other cool items to buy online include: African leather handbags and clutch purses designed by Sharon Boonzaier and produced at Indalo Design Studio; African-inspired gifts such as wild woolie animals, elephant-shaped wire cars and tribal skins USB flash Drives designed by Hayley Rogers and produced by Shumba inc., beloved beadwork, motocraft, Indalo Design Studios and Iziko lo Lwazi Craftworkers; and a variety of outdoors accessories such as stools that double up as side tables and the two-in-one mattress sofa in bright colours by designer Mireille van Reenen and produced by Milie.

Contact Liane Mulder at 021 801 4775 65 Rose Street, Bo Kaap, Cape Town.


Other collabs:

The Bat Centre (Victoria Embankment, Durban)

An art development and community centre containing a number of retail outlets, large art studios, exhibition galleries, music practice rooms, a dance studio, resource center and a conference room. The centre supports and creates jobs for local artists and well as hosting workshops and creating a space for collaborations with international artists and other local artists.

Contact: 031 332 0451,

Heartworks (Cape Town)

There are four Heartworks stores based in Cape Town (Kloof street, Gardens, The Biscuit Mill, Cape Quarter) and each store offers support to and employs local craft workers. The Heartworks Stitching Club consists of approximately 27 embroiderers from Khayelitsha who collaborate ideas with the Heartworks store and create designs and patterns, which are then made into cushions, balls and teddy bears for the stores.

Contact: 021 424 8419,

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