South African Design

Pretty Personal with Kristen Morkel

The story of Design Kist is an almost textbook definition of a happy accident. Onse Kristen actually ended up studying textile design on a last-minute whim, and it’s lucky for us that she did! Design Kist is a treasure chest of gorgeous things with a uniquely Mzansi flavour - and Kristen herself is no different.

  1. Hello Kristen! So, how did you land up doing what you do?
    Hello Pretty! :) I’m a textile designer and “owner person” at Design Kist - a Cape Town based surface and textile design studio. I ended up studying textile design on a spontaneous whim when I was 18  (Ed. note: The afternoon that applications closed - cutting it fine!), and within a week I had started classes at CPUT.
  2. "Owner person" is an awesome title. We should totally get that on our business cards. Tell us about the wonderful things Design Kist makes!
    We make designer wallpaper, fabric, and digital surface patterns with a uniquely “Mzansi” flavour. Many of the designs start out as hand-drawn sketches, or motifs/images from our handpicked selection of SA designers, which are then translated into seamless patterns to print onto wallpapers and fabrics. This collaborations has resulted in a series of designs with different “handwritings” that still retain a distinct “Design Kist” feel.

    Another special factor is that our products are printed to order, with all printing done locally. Due to the bespoke nature of our products, in most cases we can tweak, recolour and customise to ensure that the product is perfectly tailored to suit our clients’ needs before we print.

  3. Even a quick look at the Design Kist collection shows a lot of different influences, or “handwritings”. Is there anything in particular that inspires you?
    There are many Capetonian designers I find inspiring. Right up there are Heather Moore of Skinny laMinx; Jesse Breytenbach of Jezze Prints (Ed. note: Holler, Henri Kuikens!); and Wendren Setzer, owner of The Wren Design (and a former classmate). Watching their creative businesses evolve gave me the confidence to quit my job as a salaried textile designer. I wanted to design in my own name, and create on my own terms, and these women showed me that it was possible. As for my favourite things - right up there are coffee, black ink fineliners, my camera, and books - anything that stimulates/facilitates creativity!
  4. With so much inspiration out there, you must be keeping busy! What’s coming up for Design Kist?
    Most of our designs emerge quite intuitively, and as such we try not to adhere to too much of a timetable. Saying that, we’ve been brewing a collection of fresh and vibrant spring florals, which we released on the first day of spring!
  5. You have great hair, by the way.
    Why thank you! Five words: Lionel Kim on Buitenkant Street. I met him while dropping off wallpaper samples for a client across the street from my studio. He took one look at my hair, gave me his card, and the rest is history! He actually inspired a soon-to-be-released “scissors” print - just goes to show, inspiration is everywhere!
It really is - from cows, to Zoo Biscuits, to hot air balloons. Give your surfaces some Design Kist lovin’ from their Hello Pretty store, and stay updated on new projects in the pipeline through the Design Kist Facebook and Twitter.

Pretty Personal with Ingrid Auret

We all need a little something-something from time to time - and now, you can get sweet and stylish something somethings from Maiden Name. The lovely Ingrid left the daily grind with the intention of creating things that were a little different, and that you were sure to love.


  1. Hello Ingrid! Tell us a little “something something” about yourself.
    Well, I originally studied interior design, then started working as an
    exhibition stand designer; but as I’m sure most creatives feel, I hated
    sitting in front of a computer every day doing things other people told me
    to do. I never actually designed anything. I then decided that an 8-5
    office job is very much not for me, so I left the safety of a monthly
    income and started doing freelance stand designs for a company in Holland
    (which I am still doing) - I was very lucky in that regard. My ultimate
    dream is to have my own shop though, so I started Maiden Name as a small
    range and am now hoping to turn it into a loved brand and hopefully a shop
    one day. Other than that, I love food way too much, love cooking and baking
    as well, I am a sports fanatic and think dogs are the best things to ever
  2. Ah, a dog person. Oh well, we can’t all be perfect. ;)
    Why did you choose the name “Maiden Name”?

    I never used to like my surname, Auret, but over the last few years I
    have grown to super love it! And knowing that in a few years time I’m
    going to have to say goodbye to my beautiful last name, I actually wanted
    to name the shop Auret, but it didn’t work so well as a logo - so, I decided
    that Maiden Name would work well. So now it’s kind of a tribute to my
    surname, which will one day be my maiden name.
  3. That’s a really creative idea! Who and what do you look to for inspiration?
    I am so inspired and proud of where creatives, designers, and entrepreneurs
    in South Africa are at, at the moment. I think we are very much world
    class and I’m so proud to be a South African. And I have to say Cape
    Town is an inspiration, I am so in love with our gorgeous city, I would marry it if I could.
    I love wood, and am trying to keep most of the Maiden Name products natural
    wood - it is something that will always be so loved and wood products are
    just beautiful. At the moment I am also inspired by illustrators and
    beautiful illustrations - they’re right at the top of my “Want” as well as
    "Inspiration" lists. Also, I have a slight ceramics addiction, anything
    from animals to coffee mugs, bowls and plates. 
  4. (Hey Cape Town: Call her.)
    What can you tell us about the something somethings Maiden Name makes?

    A lot of the Maiden Name products are handmade, and everything that is
    painted is hand painted. I personally love everything in the Maiden Name
    range, that is where everything starts… I make things that I would love
    to have so hopefully everyone else wants it. The range is still small, but
    growing fast, and I plan to add a ceramics range later this year also, so
    holding thumbs for that. 
  5. We’ll hold thumbs figuratively. If we did it literally, we wouldn’t be able to type. Last question: Chocolate or vanilla?
    Haha, well that depends on what exactly you’re talking about. Everything
    flavour-wise definitely chocolate, everything else I’ll have to say
    vanilla. But think that chocolate and vanilla actually ALWAYS go really
    well together. :)

Ain’t that the truth. Whatever your preference, you’re sure to find something to tickle your design tastebuds in Maiden Name’s Hello Pretty store. You can also get acquainted on Facebook and Twitter.

Pretty Personal with Max Pienaar

Savior Brand Co. was borne out of a desire to find an alternative to the mass-produced dime-a-dozen phone and laptop covers available commercially. SBC went one better and created beautiful, quality leather goods that not only smell awesome, but are designed and made by hand right here in Mzansi. Founder, inventor of the word “ZARians”, and cheesecake fanatic Max took some time to chat to us.

Here’s what he had to say for himself:
  1. Hello Max! So, who are you exactly?
    I’m a son, a husband, a father, a friend, and a change agent…at the end of it all, I’m just a guy that loves design/creation and the freedom and pleasure that it brings not only to myself but to the individuals that “buy” into my designs…
  2. That’s quite a job title. How does Savior Brand Co. fit into it?
    Savior Brand Co. is a two part story:
    Part 1: I was working on a creative project with Laurie Holmes, founder of Holmes Bros fashion - I shared with him my dream to help older orphans make something of their lives, and help them realise their dreams, become useful to themselves, and integrate themselves as contributing members in their communities…by enriching their lives, they enrich ours, and also this beautiful land we call ZAR - this dream bore an organisation called SMLV+18.

    Part 2: Laurie came back to me a few months later with a contribution “puzzle piece” that added to my initial dream; and in that nano-second of sharing, Savior Brand Co. was born, and leather became my medium of creativity…a significant portion of SBC profits will feed into realising the dreams of orphans over the age of 18.
    I get asked about the name and the logo a lot - it’s almost fun to watch people’s reactions when I tell them that I love Jesus, and he is my anchor…seriously though, it is more than that. The name Savior Brand Co. sort of evolved out of that first dream to help orphans. Wikipedia says that a savior “…may refer to a person who helps people achieve salvation, or saves them from something.” We’re passionate about transforming the lives of orphans, so by purchasing any Savior Brand Co. product we sort of enable you to be a savior in your own right, by literally saving the dreams of young adults and impacting the lives of our kids. 

  3. That’s some food for thought right there. What items does SBC make, and how does your ethos impact on their design?
    I started off making leather accessories for Apple products - iPhone, iPad, and Macbooks, pretty much because I couldn’t find anything I really liked in any of the retailers…everyone sort of carries the same mass-produced stuff made out of synthetics, and I wanted something with a bit more soul, something with a story. I have a few mates that are musos, so I got a call to make guitar straps; I wanted a lanyard wallet; someone else wanted a slim wallet; and as I got more requests for custom products our product offerings evolved to include leather totes, briefcases, lanyards, wallets, camera straps, keyrings, and a host of other leather goods. Now, we make pretty much any accessory.
    Pretty much anything with the Savior Brand on it is hand-cut, hand-stitched (only sometimes machine-sewn for quality), and basically handmade, with a bit of love thrown in…call me soft, but that’s just how I roll these days…fueled on love…
  4. Aw, Max, you big softy. And we thought that with all the leather and guitar straps and biker wallets that you had to be some kind of a badass!
    Let’s just say that I’m definitely not a conformist…I’d like to describe my products as badass (adjective: formidable, excellent: this is one badass leather bag…hahahaha).
  5. Is there anything particularly badass coming up that we should know about?
    We’re constantly designing new products, and recently launched two new tote designs - the SBC Brogue Tote and the SBC Farmers’ Shopper - coming soon to a Hello Pretty near you!
That sounds totes amaze! (Sorry. We’re really sorry.) You can find the (badass) Savior Brand Co. line on Hello Pretty, and get the 411 on SBC on Facebook and Twitter.

An awesome Mingo Lamberti / Raw Studios collaboration

It’s always an exciting thing when you see a local designer you love popping up in an international publication. Fans of South African Mingo Lamberti will be used to seeing this strong brand appearing all over the place.

According to the article I just read on DesignWorkLife, Mingo Lamberti was commissioned to come up with some graphic designs to apply to a furniture range for Raw Studios (also in South Africa). I absolutely love the result (and especially the colours used) - an amazingly well done job.

Open Studios Sessions at Artist Proof Studio

Oddly enough, we’ve had a fair few designers ask whether we knew of a good place in Johannesburg to do professional printing. We didn’t, but we’ve asked around and chatted with a few of the right kinds of people and feel that we can now quite confidently recommend that you talk to Artist Proof Studio, who are based in Newtown.

From the Artist Proof Studio bio on Facebook:

Artist Proof Studio is a quality Art Education Centre that specialises in printmaking through a variety of diverse partnerships with creative young artists, established professional artists, community groups, patrons and funders.
Every Friday from 9am to 4pm they have their Open Studio sessions. It costs R120.00 per session and that includes inks, solvents, studio space and the assistance of one of their printers. You must have basic print knowledge and have used the press before. There will be a maximum of 6 people per session.

You’ll need to buy your own plates and paper, which you can buy from Artist Proof Studio themselves (let them know by the Tuesday before you attend what you’ll need for your Friday session).

Here are the contact details for Artist Proof Studio:
      +27 (11) 492-1278
      address: The Bus Factory, 3 President Street, Newtown, Johannesburg

Pretty Personal with Aaron Kearney

If Irish eyes are smiling, it’s probably because they’ve spotted one of the talented Irish-born Mr Aaron Kearney’s designs. Once he got tired of overachieving at school (100% for Art & Design in his final year of high school, and Honours from Central Saint Martins) he put his talent and energy into making beautiful, imaginative furniture and ceramics.

Here’s what he had to say for himself:
  1. Hello Aaron! So, who are you exactly?
    Well, I grew up in Ireland and was always surrounded by art. Whether it was playing with clay, or paint, or whatever, it was awesome. My mum is a very talented former art teacher and has a couple of degrees so it all started there I guess. Then around my early teenage years I started getting into woodwork as my retired grandfather tried to find things to do with his time in the garage. Add on a fantastic art department at school, the wealth of creativity in London and Saint Martins, some years of experience, and you’re ready to serve.
  2. Sounds delicious! Can you tell us about the wonderful things you make?
    My Hello Pretty store is quite a good representation of the direction I’ve gone in the last year or so. There is bespoke woodwork, lasercut sculptural pieces, ceramics, and my recontextualised wheelbarrow. I realised that I had to embrace different mediums. I had ideas that didn’t lend themselves to wood, my plates being the obvious example of that, and decided I would delve into various disciplines depending on what I wanted to achieve. I’d like to think my pieces and products have a stem running through them, similar to going to a solo show at an art gallery - you can see the same palette of colours in various paintings, and you know the same artist is responsible for all the work.
  3. What influences and inspires you?
    People, my son, the thought of school/art college reunions, the natural world, geometry.
  4. Is there anything interesting coming up for you that we should know about?
    I recently sent a new Octahedron up to the Southern Guild exhibition at Everard Read in Johannesburg. Also, we’re working on the prototypes to extend the range of ceramic plates.
  5. We’ll definitely keep an eye out for them. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us - we’ll have to buy you a drink sometime!
    Sure, a White Russian would be ideal - Big Lebowski playing on a big projector!
We’re pretty sure The Dude would be a fan of Aaron’s work - much like the rug, his pieces really tie a room together. You can find them in his Hello Pretty store, and stay up to date with his projects on Facebook.

Pretty Personal with Leila Badsha from Bow Peep

Leila Badsha started Bow Peep in early 2011, with a focus on whimsical handmade stationery and accessories. You’ve probably spotted many a Cape Town gal wearing her button earrings and rings; and if you see a dapper gent wearing a bow tie - one he tied himself, natch - chances are, it’s one of Leila’s.

We caught up with her recently:

  1. Hello Leila! So, who are you exactly?
    I’m from Cape Town - I studied at UCT, and after graduating I did a couple of internships. I really hated being an intern so I started Bow Peep because I was so bored sitting around all day at a desk working on Excel. Bow Peep started to take off so I quit my internship and decided to work for myself full time.
  2. We hear you. Death by spreadsheet - no thanks! Can you tell us about the wonderful things Bow Peep makes?
    Bow Peep is about whimsical accessories and stationery that won’t break the bank. All the products are handmade, and almost all have an element of fabric in them.
  3. What makes you tick?
    I really love fabric and every time I find new fabric it inspires me to make new products. Sometimes just wandering around fabric shops inspires new designs. I tend to come up with new products ether late at night, or when I am really busy on an order and don’t actually have the time to start something new. I also love stationery so I had to add that to my range.
  4. Sounds like you have a lot going on! Did any of these flashes of inspiration turn into something we should know about?
    I have started working in silver so you can possibly expect a small silver Bow Peep collection. I have already made some silver button necklaces, and will hopefully come up with more soon. I am also trying to make more things for guys - I am planning on making cuff links but its taking a while…
  5. We can’t wait! So, last question: Ever lost any sheep? (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
    Hahaha, my friends and my family think I have lost the plot sometimes. I think they think I’m a bit mad but I think you have to be a bit mad to work for yourself.
We couldn’t agree more - just look at Team Hello Pretty ;)

Pretty Personal with Audrey Botha from Papillon Belle

Audrey Botha inherited jewellery from her grandmother, which ended up being the inspiration behind the exquisite pieces from Papillon Belle. Every piece is as unique as the butterfly it came from, and just as captivating.

Clockwise from top: Urania Butterfly Necklace, Audrey and her darling puppy, Ornithoptera Butterfly Necklace, Skeleton Wing Earrings

Once we managed to stop oohing and aahing over Audrey’s adorable puppy, we asked her a few questions:

  1. Hello Audrey! So, who are you exactly?
    I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa.  Butterflies have always been a source of inspiration to me. When I inherited two antique brooches made with real butterfly wings from my grandmother, it sparked the idea for my new range of jewellery. The brooches date back to the Victorian era and I became very interested in how you can take something as transient as a butterfly, and immortalise it in a piece of jewellery that can be passed down three generations. I wanted to create a range of timeless, classic pieces that could become family heirlooms at a time when disposable consumables seem to dominate our world.
  2. That’s a really nice ethos. Hello Pretty is a huge fan of lasting, quality design. Can you tell us about the wonderful things Papillon Belle makes?
    Papillon Belle jewellery is special on so many levels. Each piece is handcrafted using real butterfly wings, encased in glass or perspex and set in Sterling Silver. The glass pendants are engraved with the year of manufacture on the side, making it the perfect gift for a special occasion. Each pendant comes in a luxury gift box with a certificate of authenticity containing info on the butterfly and where it’s from.
    The butterflies used in my jewellery are sourced from an organisation that manages sustainable farming projects all over the world. The pendants are not only beautiful to look at, but also help to conserve the rain forests and support the farmers who depend on the forests to make a living, while preserving the populations of endangered butterflies.
  3. I read up on that on your website’s About page, and it’s fascinating. Who knew something as small as a butterfly could help change the world? What changes your world and inspires you?
    Being a creative person, I am constantly inspired by things around me. When I encounter something that inspires me, it tends to cross-pollinate in my mind and result in new ideas. I also love working on a range of different projects and tackling a new creative problem. I love traveling and spending time with my beagle Otis.
  4. Hi Otis, you cutie pie. Audrey, anything interesting coming up that we should know about?
    I have been working on waterproofing butterfly wings for the past 2 months and have finally found a solution after much trial and error! You can’t touch the wings or get any moisture in contact with it without damaging the wing, so waterproofing it is incredibly tricky. I will be launching the first butterfly wing rings at the end of the month.
  5. I just saw pictures of those on your Facebook page! Super exciting. Now, we know we shouldn’t ask you to play favourites, but do you have a favourite butterfly?
    Luckily, I have a collection of 5 pendants next to my bed so every morning I choose a pendant and dress according to the colour of the wing! I would never be able to choose a single butterfly, but I would have to say the Morpho Zephyritis from Peru is pretty spectacular. The wing is actually brown, but to the human eye the one side is an iridescent turquoise blue that changes colour depending on the colour of the light. This is an optical illusion caused by light refraction taking place on tiny scales on the surface of the wing. Then the Urania Chrysiridia Ryphaeus from Madagascar is actually a moth that mimics butterflies to ward off predators. It’s a crazy looking insect covered in stripes and dots and all the colours of the rainbow. I call it my transvestite butterfly as it looks like it’s wearing too much make-up :) Madagascar is an isolated eco-system, so you tend to find insects and animals there that have evolved over time that you will find nowhere else on earth! Lastly, the Siproeta Victorina Stelenes has to be one of my favourites…for one, I love the name! It looks like something from an Art Nouveau painting and the colours are incredible (blue grey and burnt orange).
That’s it. We’re totally naming our band “The Transvestite Butterflies”. Thanks Audrey!
You can find more of Audrey’s stunning pieces on the Papillon Belle Hello Pretty store. Also, if you find her on Twitter and Facebook, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet Otis.


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