From the “Designing for Africa” theme to a multipurpose kitchen unit, everything that caught Property 360’s eye at Decorex, Cape Town.
Sit-down with Danela Conti Bryant
One couldn’t miss interior designer Danela Conti Bryant right at the entrance, as she took on the role of Decorex Designer Spotlight. Amidst all the action, we caught her for a sit-down chat on this years trends and the larger designing for Africa theme of the exhibition.
As a 5th generation South African, Conti Bryant said the African landscape is in all parts of her DNA. This piece of her identity most recently crept into her work as she used the shape as pop art. Conti Bryant combined a large mild steel frame, manufactured by Hans van Dyk, with smaller Africa magnets to iconise the continent.
“The idea of the magnets developed organically as the best way to attach so many components to the frame without fuss and without them all swaying, as would a normal chandelier,” said Conti Bryant. One can detach them and use it as a whiteboard for reminders, or enjoy the modern piece and leave the magnets alone.
This pop-art visual is part of the larger Decorex theme, ‘Designing for Africa – feels like home.’ “The African continent is positioning itself as a global style icon, fusing the influences of international trend-makers with the unique colour and vibrancy that characterises its people and cultures,” said Reed Exhibitions portfolio director Sian Cullingworth.
In the designer spotlight, Conti Bryant said this can be seen in interior design globally through the popularity of African wax prints and organic curved structures similar to African craft roots. Easy shades of seafoam green and pale blues, similar to the calming nature of the African landscape, offer respite and tranquility to balance out the craziness of our fast paced lifestyles said Conti Bryant.
For larger colour trends not specific to Africa, Conti Bryant said we have come out of a stone, beige phase and into a place where people can have fun such as the fiery and peachy 2019 Pantone Colour of the Year, Living Coral. Coral was popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s, but has come back in a deeper and more vibrant shade, drawing attention to the importance of paying attention to our oceans and becoming conscious of our environmental footprint, said Conti Bryant.
Like shapes, Conti Bryant likes to have a certain playfulness with colour, “there is so much fear in the world, one needs to consciously have some fun.”
Other colours highlighted at Decorex include Night Watch, a calming lush, rich teal believed to be one of the other top colours of 2019 and Gen Z Yellow.
“Colour is coming in, hectic fabrics make a nice combination,” said Leon at CCXIX designer Pim Verdoorn.
For many, lighting can be an afterthought, but “carefully choosing the correct type of lighting can completely transform the mood you wish to achieve in the space,” said Wireworld managing director, Cathy Newton. Depending on the function of a room, ambient, functional and accent lighting may work best.
People are sticking to simple and minimalist lighting that doesn’t date. “To ‘decongest our lives, we offer a range that is scaled back in detail, is simple and void of any embellishment,” said Newton.
Accents can be brought in with hints of dull copper and gold making the product quite versatile as these blend with most pallets already existing in one’s home.
But still, there’s always room for “a little pop of colour,” and many like to pair outdoor furniture with geometric shapes, said Newton. Decorative bulbs can highlight an indoor statement piece as well.
All of Wireworld’s products are handmade their South African factory, proudly sourcing local materials and creating local employment. “People want to have that ‘once off’ designer piece as opposed to mass produced imported goods,” said Newton. “It gives them a feeling of exclusivity.”
There are an increasing number of creative entrepreneurs emerging in the lighting industry crafting products in South Africa and importing unique handmade products catering to an increased appreciation for handcrafted items, said Newton.
One of these creative entrepreneurs is Jodi Lawrence, owner of 8 Degrees South, who aims to bring beautiful handpicked décor items from artisanal designers from across the globe to customers at an affordable price.
Their signature material is rattan which they import from Bali. “It gives you a warm, tropical holiday vibe,” Lawrence said. “You feel like you’re stepping into Bali.”
Teak Root In, Dark Teak Out
Another popular unique product is teak root furniture, said Sevens Design sales executive Henrico Combrink.
While Sevens Design unique light teak products are selling, TradeSecret director Alex Cresswell-Turner said he couldn’t give away his dark teak products, “unless I painted it.” He added that there has been a move away from stainless steel and toward warmer brass products.
Homewood embracing Multifunctionality
Someone who knows wood is Homewood founder and Managing Director Ian Perry, who studies at the University of Stellenbosch and boasts a BSC Forestry (Wood Science). After his discovery that 90% of a tree is often deemed as unusable in furniture production due to natural imperfections, he set out to create furniture that embraces these imperfections, “The tree has a story to tell,” Perry said.
Each handcrafted piece of furniture uses the whole plank, whether it is black ofram, plantation teak, white oak or blackwood, and the off-cuts are turned into smaller pieces. Homewood crafts everything from beds to outdoor patio furniture, but at Decorex they showcased the innovative Kopanya Kitchen Unit.
They crafted this versatile and compact product to accommodate homeowners who are electing smaller spaces. “The traditional dining area, lounge and kitchen are all converging into one space,” said Perry.
“In part due to the rise in popularity of cooking shows, the kitchen area is the new social area where hosts can show off their process and interact with guests.”
The growing demand for multi-functional furniture with various features such as the maximum storage facility, stylish design, and innovative space saving designs are driving the furniture market growth from last few years, according to a Furniture MarketTrend 2019 report.
In other kitchen trends, mixing a raw and finished look could be found at multiple stands. “There is a resurgence in popularity of natural wood finishes, and to make it contemporary combining it with a matte black,” said Dane Maharaj of the Studio Collection.
Curves & Bevels Designer Kitchens does similar combination of different finishes in their curved products, whether it is an engineered stone colour, metallic, or trending light greys and brown hues. Curves & Bevels entered the market in 1997 when they saw a demand for something different in kitchens.
The bathroom can be an extended living space, with personalised décor and creative lighting. WOMAG Build & Plan took home Best Bathroom stand, where they showcased their no-slip technology when wet on tiles, as well as various floors and sinks.
The wood and marble combination has become, “pretty explosive,” according to WOMAG representative Coral Sachs. Metal bricks have also increased in popularity, she said.
“People are so used to touching their phones, they are just craving texture,” said décor curator Sherri Chipps. Dane Maharaj of the Studio Collection adds that this can translate to kitchen surfaces where grainy surfaces like beam oak used to be cheap, but has since increased in price with the texture trend.
Other interior design materials such as grounded tiles, recycled plastics and more traditional materials like marble and granite can offer this tactile experience.