Koba Nieuwoudt Illustration





















I’m absolutely smitten with Koba Nieuwoudt‘s illustrations. Koba studied graphic design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and she’s doing her Honours in Illustration at Stellenbosch University.

Can’t wait to see what she does next.

You can find her on Facebook, Behance or Instagram.

Her products, which as far as I know include pillows and mugs, are available for purchase and you can either check out her website or contact her at kobie.nieuwoudt@gmail.com for more info.



The new Design Team & Essential Life collaboration

Design Team Stool Bench with Arms R2415 – R3112

Design Team Round Coffee Table R1453 High Leg R1624

Design Team Square Ottoman 500×500 R1764

Design Team Table 1.7m R6963

Design Team Round Ottoman R1764

Design Team Server R8784 Birch R14085

Design Team Ottoman bench with arms 800 length R2243

We love the new collaboration between Design Team and Essential Life. The project development team from Essential Life Creative Studio combined various Design Team fabric collections and extended them into a full-fledged furniture range.

The furniture range incorporates the revival of the mid-century trend of natural and ageless constructions, combined with a distinct modern flair. The range aims to be accessible to a global market and uses plywood made from reconstituted woods, combined with solid mahogany from sustainable forests that makes the high quality range environmentally friendly.


For more visit http://www.designteamfabrics.co.za/

Vamp revamped.

Mengsel Pillows R340 each

We’ve been huge fans of the Vamp blog for a long time and we’ve finally got round to chatting to Paula van Niekerk owner of the beautiful Vamp furniture store in Cape Town. They’re in a new space and they now stock lots of local brands such as Skinny Laminx, Lauren Fowler, Isabeaupeep, SMAC Harry, Nicky Page, Moonbasket, Renee Rossouw etc.

So there’s a revamped Vamp. What has changed and what inspired the change?

We had to move from our previous location as the building was sold. It had been coming for quite some time, so after the initial angst, we got really excited at the prospect of moving to a fresh new space. We still focus on our revamped mid – century furniture which is the biggest part of our business and have also have started adding new designers and ranges into the mix that we feel complement our furniture and our vision for Vamp. Other than that, we are in a bigger space which enables us to showcase our wares much better.

Tell us a bit more about your background. 

Vamp is owned by myself and my partner Michael Dodds. My background is in restaurants, and more recently I owned an events management and décor company. Michael is a baker and pastry chef by trade, but has been in the woodwork manufacturing industry for the past 15 years.

 Two years ago, on a weekend away up the West Coast, we found a shop that sold a bit of everything, from clothing and furniture to petrol! What really caught our eye was an incredible selection of vintage furniture that had previously belonged to some or other government department. We spontaneously bought the lot and sent it back to Cape Town on a rather large truck.  We had often spoken about opening a furniture/homeware shop together over the years and with the perfect excuse to actually get off our butts and do it, we opened Vamp a few months later.

You work with a lot of up-and-coming designers do you have any advice for young designers/product designers/artisans who are trying to establish their own brands and who would one day love to sell their wares at Vamp.

There is so much incredible talent around that it can be really tough getting your name out there. Be passionate about what you do, people are drawn to that. Create your own formula, stay focused on your ideas, but don’t be scared to ask for advice and guidance along the way. Work hard, be positive and don’t give up!

The shop is situated on 368 Albert Road (Opposite the Old Biscuit Mill) in Woodstock, Cape Town. Their opening hours are as follows: 09h30 – 16h30 Mondays to Fridays. 08h30 – 15h00 Saturdays.

Join their Facebook page or follow their blog to stay updated on what’s new at Vamp. http://vampfurniture.blogspot.com/

Thanks Paula!

Recycle. Revive. Recreate.

I’ve seen many of Katie Thompson’s pieces in magazines and on websites, but I saw them close-up for the first time at Decorex Jo’burg. The craftsmanship is impeccable and her unique pieces exude quirk and personality. If you don’t prescribe to the cookie cutter style you find in furniture chain stores, this is for you.

Using pieces of discarded junk, Katie recreates a unique, recycled range of furniture, lighting and interior accessories, each piece infused with its own previous character but with a new function. By blending South African craftsmanship, with high end finishes and her own eclectic perfectionist flair, Katie creates an original end product with a new integrity that epitomizes the very best of South African design.

Continue reading

Decorex Designer Collection

Left: Laid Back Co R99-R595 Right: Design Team R55 – R199
Lisa Firer Ceramics R229-R285Left: Wonki Ware R55- R119 Right: Goet R1299-R1649

Anthony Shapiro R135

The Decorex Designer Collection is a quirky, colourful range of homeware and signature products by 9 South African designers. The inspiration has been around summer entertaining and the range reflects a loosening up of the way we South Africans love to live and entertain. A common thread of pared down simplicity and humour with a colour palette of grey, natural, turquoise and a dash of indigo makes for a unique and eclectic table setting.

For more on the designers click here.

The range will soon be available at the Decorex online shop.

Chandler House

Cape Spittoon in Yellow (love it) & Miro pillow

Left: Cape Parrot Plate (photo: Henrique Wilding) Right: One Hundred & Thirty Vase (notice the profiles of two faces)

Cape Fridge Fragments (collected from a sunken pirate ship in the Cape Harbour, ok not really)

Cape Spittoon in White & Phrenology Vase

Phrenologies (what a handsome moustache)

This morning I stumbled on a post on the House & Leisure site about Michael Chandler’s Cape Fridge Fragments. I hopped over to his site to read more about Chandler House, his small design studio.

Michael studied Art History at UCT and wants to contribute towards the revival of all things Cape. “The Cape has such a rich and unique history of design and interiors that is only starting to be tapped now. The fulcrum between the West and the Rest, Cape Town straddled, juxtaposed and wove all sorts of different pieces into its own unique song.”

Have a look at his site for more beautiful pieces or follow him on twitter.


The future of Product Design

Ladies and Gentlemen, these are the rising stars of product design in South Africa. They’re all still in college (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and they’ve already developed products that instantly sell out. Let me introduce you: Above you’ll find SMAC Harry, which is made up of four budding creatives – Stefan Fourier, Andre Solomon, Catherine Hutton-Squire and Marten Feiter.

Combining functionality and chic design, SMAC Harry manufactured and produced two shelving units suitable for the home or the office. Inspired by mid-century Art Deco the units use colour and texture to bring a playful edge to the entrance hall.

They’ll again be available from Vamp in Woodstock from July (the first batch flew off the shelves and sold out completely).

Lucas Adams, a 3D Design (product design) student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), recently designed for a brief that required him to produce a dining-room chair using reasonably sustainable materials.

The result that followed was the Sessio (latin for seat) chair.

“The design started off by playing around with a few primary shapes with the aim of achieving a unique form which I had not seen before. In my scamping, I came up with the idea of supporting a person by using a ‘grabbing’ like form – try making a C figure with your hand. During the conceptual stage I didn’t have a material in mind, but I had just become acquainted with James Hannah of JBH Design who specializes in metals, this later influenced my decision to work with mild-steel, something which I had never done before.

The concept revolved around a design that would be of a bespoke nature, but would use standardized industrial methods that wouldn’t result in a complicated manufacture process. I really enjoyed working with metal during the process. It’s got a very honest appeal to it, and best of all it will stand the test of time, which means if your designing for this material, your piece is guaranteed to stick around for a while! This design is my first semi-professional furniture piece, and I really enjoyed the entire experience from early conceptual, to final development.”

Lucas’ beautiful photography was done by Eeden La Grange.

Check out his blog for some product design inspiration.


Handmade gifts for under R250

One Bud Vase handmade by ceramicist Lisa Firer. R225 each. Available from Deep Dark Africa.

Hand felted cushions. R180 each. Available from Beatnik Bazaar.

Smock dress, 2-3 years.  R195. Available from Skinny Laminx.

Handprinted limited edition dishcloths by Mia Widlake. R90. Available from Abby & Ross.

My Gold Heart necklace by Caera O’Shaughnessy. R180. (10% goes to charity) from one of these online shops.

Birdie gift tags. Set of 10. R75. From Skinny Laminx.

Bearded men and Polar Bears bowls by Sarah Benjamin. R240 each. From The Fringe Arts on Kloof Street.

Dark horse

Interior designer Lise du Plessis recently opened her beautiful designer furniture and wholesale apparel shop in Tamboerskloof. Dark Horse not only stocks all locally made designs it also aspires to be as eco-friendly as possible. Lise tells us a bit more about her background, her ‘handmade with love’ ethos and her little black-beard blue coloured shop.

I am originally from Johannesburg. It has been an interesting place to grow up, there is so much drive and energy there. I’ve been sketching and making artworks ever since I could pick up a pen. I always knew I wanted to be a designer of some sort, I think it was Wallpaper magazine that convinced me to go into Interior design specifically.

 I studied for a degree in Interior Design at Greenside Design Center before working in the field (I spent most of my working years with Sarah Watermeyer in Newtown JHB and learnt a lot from her).

 After that I lived in the UK for a year and a half where I tried to absorb in all the beautiful architecture and design before travelling around Europe for a bit and being absolutely blown away! I’ve vowed to travel as much as I can now as I find it so inspirational.

Continue reading

Meet the Shaw Sisters

I first stumbled on the wonderful designs by the Durban based Shaw Sisters on one of my favourite local blogs Coelho Culture. Shaw sisters was founded in 2010 by sisters Angela Shaw of Koop Design and Janet Shaw of The Zulu Beadwork Project. Angela tells us a bit more.

We love handmade product and our vision is to identify, source and develop quality crafted goods for South African and international markets.

The aim is to have fun, traveling internationally to find original materials and suppliers and also working closely with selected South African crafters to create inspiring and beautiful goods.

Together we create seasonal stories that become our script for finding, developing and presenting our ranges every 6 months.

The label was launched in August 2010 at SARCDA.

In March 2011 Shaw Sisters was awarded Most Innovative Product for our Folded Book light at the Durban Decorex Trends and Tastes show.”

For more gorgeous products have a look at their website.

You can find them at:

200 Montpelier Road

Morningside, Durban

South Africa

+27 (0)31 312 4475

Angela Shaw – angela@koopdesign.co.za – 083 384 3660

Janet Shaw – jayshaw@mweb.co.za – 082 497 5977

Thanks Angela & Janet!

Launch of a beautiful new SA Handmade online shop

Today sees the launch of Deep Dark Africa, a brand new Handmade online shop with a range of beautiful products created by or in collaboration with local artisans, designers and crafters showcasing Africa’s evolving talent.

Alexia Kondylis the woman behind Deep Dark Africa tells Handsome Things how it all got started.

“I am a fashion & decor stylist in Cape Town (www.alexiakondylis.com) with an inherent love for the continent on which I live and design in general.  I studied architecture & have always dabbled in various mediums of design & hand crafting. I am really inspired by Africa’s creativity  and through Deep Dark Africa I wanted to show the rest of the world what we’re up to, that our design is evolving whilst still staying true to its handmade roots, and to bridge the gap between artists who do and don’t have access to the greater market. Many of the products are unique collaborations between myself & the artists, who I’ve carefully selected, which has been so much fun, and I plan to do a lot more, so watch this space!”

Have a look at the site here or check out the blog.

Good luck with the new venture Alexia!

Retro reproductions inspired by Mad Men

We featured Nadia van der Mescht from Cupcake Couture a while ago and we’ve recently discovered that her dad and husband are just as talented as she is. They own a company called Woodnewz that specialize in custom carpentry and design.

They’ve created this range of retro reproductions that draw inspiration from Mad Men and movies such as The Apartment and Lover Come Back.

The business, which has its roots in family heritage, was established in 1995. Founder, Thinus Jonker, learnt his trade from his father who did woodwork and restoration as a hobby. Tools and skills were passed from father to son and Thinus has in turn shared his knowledge with his son-in-law, Daniel. Together they create, design and craft.

Have a look at their website to see more of their classic and contemporary pieces.

Thinus:  082 5796574

Head on Design by Joanna Orr

An ironic twist on the hunting trophies we as South Africans love, or loathe. From her studio in Cape Town, Joanna Orr has explored this concept by creating wall-mounted African animal sculptures, all of which exude an Afro-chic elegance.

The pieces come in leather, which offers a wide range of colours, or a white recycled board for those who appreciate the full irony as well as its eco-friendly nature.

Joanna has now started working with local artists to create a new range of sculptures painted in a style that is typically embracing of current African trends; an exciting collaboration that she hopes will continue to evolve. “Jozi2,” painted by Sharon Boonzaier, was inspired by the bustling city of Jo’burg, its architecture and diverse culture. Some of the works are painted on canvas and printed on the sculpture, as seen in Claudia Gurwitz’s “Coral Tree”.

Animals currently available are the kudu in big and smaller sizes, the buffalo and the sable antelope. Sculptures come assembled or flat-packed. Commissions are welcome as well as Joanna, a designer by trade, spent many years living overseas, mostly in the East, and has come back to a creatively more dynamic Cape Town. She is here to stay.

For more information have a look at her website: http://www.headondesign.co.za/

Thanks Joanna!


Lyall Sprong and Marc Nicolson tell Handsome Things a bit more about their designer-maker consultancy Thingking.

We are based in Woodstock. We make and design things. This extends to client work, but also consists of furniture type objects. These furniture type objects usually have a strong conceptual underpinning because we want to push things a little bit.

We try to make things that are responsive to context, they are more about asking questions and questioning ways of thinking. In 25 people make 25 halos we look at the relationship one has with objects that are produced by people you never usually have contact with. (Read more about this project here)

In the Bracket lamp project we looked at the ideas of value surrounding an object and subsequently how likely one is to re-create or modify that object. This project is being documented here.

There are many other thoughts that resulted in the Bracket Lamp project, but the above kind of gives the essential. I think that we are inspired by possibilities for the future and the feeling one gets when you uncover an assumption or inherited idea.

There is also quite plainly a joy in making things.

For more interesting projects, check out their website.

Hello Bokkie

I’m Wendy-lee, creator of “ilovebokkie,” a homegrown, made in Durbs, true to SA, antidote to “Made in China,” kids’ brand. I create kids’ furniture, spaces and lovelies to be loved!

I graduated as an interior designer in 2004 and since then have been working at a design company. My passion is interiors!

Whilst pregnant, I struggled to find locally made, unique lovelies for kids, so I decided to create my own kids’ brand, and so ilovebokkie was born, along with my little peanut, Rylee in January 2010. After doodling in my sketch book for a year or so, my designs have finally come to life and ilovebokkie was launched at the May 2010 I heart market in Durban.

Have look at the rest of the I love bokkie range here.

Thanks Wendy!