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 largest 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 2016, 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 and sensitive – even sexy – interior decorating execution.
Being launched at Decorex Durban, which runs from 18 to 21 March at the Durban Exhibition Centre, 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 Stanley Oshry of Living Image Interiors and Philippa Courtenay of Re-inspire, two well-established KwaZulu-Natal interior designers. “A subtle fusion of African accents – here distressed leather, there natural timber – modernised with curved glass, mirrored furnishings, stainless steel and advanced lighting effects” is how Oshry describes the look he will be creating for his Trend Pod showcase.
Courtenay too who will explore the huge diversity of styles that our continent has to offer and then translate these into a sophisticated aesthetic that, while displaying a global sensibility, is still reassuringly close to home. “I’ve drawn inspiration from Africa’s open grasslands and indigenous forests and set this within a soothing blue-green palette,” says the Umhlanga-based designer of her intended Trend Pod creation. “Artisanal crafts will feature heavily as will a few beautifully upcycled statement pieces,” she adds.
According to Courtenay, “African style has evolved far beyond the traditional tourist expectations of the ‘big five’ and kitsch wooden masks. Instead, it’s about taking inspiration from this gloriously diverse continent – the vibrancy of the natural environment, the cultures, colours and crafts – and using them in contemporary ways. If you live in Africa, you possess some African style – embrace it!”
Look out for these innovative ‘pods’ at Decorex Durban 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 Durban details:
Decorex Durban: 18 – 21 March 2016
Time: 18 – 20 March, 10am to 8pm; 21 March, 10am to 6pm
Trade days: 18 March
Ticket prices: R75 for adults; R65 for trade, pensioners and scholars; R20 for children under 12
Venue: Durban Exhibition Centre