One of the most exciting evolutions in the design industry of late has been a fresh definition of the term “African Style”. Gone are the conventional rustic or overtly colonial-style offerings we’ve come to expect of décor that emanates from the Mother Continent. Instead, materials and objects (some traditional, some contemporary) are being rethought, reworked and reinterpreted, resulting in interiors that are both site- appropriate and exhilaratingly original.
This year, South Africa’s premier décor, design and lifestyle exhibition celebrates the interminable pioneering spirit of Africa in a creative cultural synergy that is, in many ways, everything contemporary African society is all about. The brand-new Trend Pods at Decorex SA, spaces designed exclusively to mark the turning point in Africa’s design identity, will encapsulate the innovative yoking of high-tech, high- end design with traditional low-tech African craft, fusing them with an extremely original, courageous, soulful, sensitive and even sexy interior decorating execution.
Being showcased at Decorex Cape Town, which takes place from 29 April to 2 May at CTICC, the purpose- designed Trend Pod installations will “draw on the organic glamour of Africa, but reinterpret it to display both an edgy now-ness of form and an ancient handling of materials,” says Sian Gutstadt, Portfolio Director of Decorex SA.
At the forefront of the task of defining a new African design language are Nicky Tyers, a well-established interior designer whose consultancy, Lion & Tyers, is based in Wynberg, Cape Town, and Dorothy van’t Riet whose eponymous design and décor consultancy is located in Parkmore, Johannesburg, but has wide experience in Africa.
“African design has unique sculptural and natural influences and relies on both artisanal skills and unusual materials. With this in mind, my Trend Pod showcase will recreate the modern explorer’s studio, drawing on natural elements such as exotic timbers, rare crystals, sculptural plants and indigenous textiles,” says Nicky, who adds that her palette will tend towards the charcoal and bone spectrum, with touches of tropical green and flashes of beaten metal.
According to Nicky, globally, both fashion and interior design are heavily influenced by the rich cultural diversity of the Mother Continent. “Current African design is unashamedly modern and has seduced the west with its contemporary, sculptural and geometric signature qualities,” she says. “Interiors, in particular, are inspired by the aesthetics of hot-climate living, which is conducive to a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle.
“Cape Town continues to attract international fashion and design pacesetters,” she continues. “I hope that those experiencing the Trend Pod installation will be inspired by the ever-changing trends emerging from this remarkable continent.”
Equally awed by the Mother continent, Dorothy van’t Riet explains how modern African design is set apart from its traditional predecessors: “By mixing modern and organic materials in a more minimalist way, interiors are clean and contemporary with a focus on unique items that add pattern, colour or texture to the scheme.”
Dorothy rates African design high on the global style scale: “African style harmonises design with the human element and the environment in perfect symbiosis. The international market is fascinated by the soul, colour, passion and rhythm of this sprawling continent, so steeped in tradition and culture. It is real – a rarity in this technology-driven world.”
For Decorex Cape Town, Dorothy has drawn inspiration from the colourful markets of Kigale and the art and craft of Rwanda, where she once completed a hotel project. “I was particularly fascinated by the unique geometric patterning and black and white motifs of the traditional Imogongo, an art form unique to Rwanda,” she says, adding that she is also very excited to be showcasing a magnificent Pierre Cronje-designed table, crafted from the fork of a 500-year-old yellowwood tree that died in the Outeniqua forest.
Look out for both Nicky and Dorothy’s innovative ‘pods’ at Decorex Cape Town 2016, which, while rooted in our native land, will possess an international appeal that is guaranteed to influence the aesthetic ideas of all who visit the show.
Decorex Cape Town details:
Decorex Cape Town: 29 April – 2 May 2016
Time: 10am to 7pm daily (6pm Monday)
Trade Day: 29 April
Ticket prices: R85 for adults; R75 for trade, pensioners and students; R20 for kids under 12 Venue: CTICC
For more information:
Decorex Cape Town forms part of the Decorex SA portfolio and are owned by Thebe Reed Exhibitions.