South African Design

Studio Visit with Bigkid Design

One of the best things about being part of Team HP, is that no matter where we go in the country, there's always some amazing talent to be found. While I was in Durban recently, I popped in to visit with the lovely Jess from Bigkid Design, and found a space full of colour and contrast, and art both traditional and unconventional.

Isn't that clock just the best thing? After an effusive welcome from the household's exuberant dogs, Jess plied me with tea and made me feel right at home. Seeing her space made it easy to understand  the playfulness found in her designs.

I'm incredibly nosy, so after I peppered her with questions, Jess was kind enough to take me through the process of making one of Bigkid's famous Lego bookends; and let me tell you, they are hard work. It's always fascinating to see how the beautiful pieces you see on Hello Pretty get made. (Hint: Usually with a LOT of hard work.)

I'm not going to give away any trade secrets, but making just one of those little guys takes time, patience, and an incredible eye for detail. After turning out my own effort, knowing just what went into making it, I opted to take him home as is to remind me that like everything worth it, you have to put the work in.

Isn't he cute? I've called him Don Quixote, because he looks like he's ready to go tilting at windmills! (And, he's made from jesmonite, which is water resistant - so he'll be just fine in his new home.)

One last thing I snapped before I headed out, at the end of a wonderful afternoon:

This was from a mosaic-ed section outside in the garden. Every tile was handmade. This one was my favourite, from a book by Jeannette Winterson.

"A young girl coming home along a slippery and frayed line of rope missed her footing and fell into the blank space below. There was a cry of horror from everyone who saw it, but the girl did not drop and crack on the ground, she floated."

Snag your very own Bigkid item from their Hello Pretty store, and stay in touch with them on Facebook

Top Brass

This table takes the idea that form should follow function and turns it on its head. Clean lines contrast with the intricate lasercut pattern, and a usually utilitarian piece of furniture gets its turn in the spotlight with a beautiful brass shine. Get yours from Leg Studios here.

We featured this table in our newsletter this week, along with a curated collection of awesome brass and timber items. There's a new theme every week, so if you'd like to be kept in the loop, sign up below!

Pretty Personal with Lauren Frates

Pretty Personal with Lauren Frates

We've all played a childhood game of "I Spy" on long car trips, but usually our discoveries tended more towards the mundane - cars, trees, and the like. Lovely Lauren from iSpy has a knack for finding the hidden beauty in everything around her, and uses it to create beautiful homeware with bright, bold prints. Here's her story.

Pretty Personal with Lauren Frates

  1. Hello Lauren! Tell us a little about yourself.

    Ok, so I'm a graphic designer by day, and textile designer at night and on weekends. I spent 10 years living and working in Pretoria and Jo'burg as a graphic designer before we moved to Knysna in 2010. Taking a break to have babies and adjust to small town life resulted in an unintentional shift towards experimenting with textile design, just for kicks. At this stage in my life, I seem to be wearing many hats – wife, mom of two preschoolers, domestic manager, graphic designer, textile designer and a member of a really collective called Hands Design Collective – a good story for another day!

  2. I'm tired just thinking about how busy you are! At what point did you realise that iSpy had gone from being an outlet to a brand with a life of its own?

    Has iSpy become a brand of it's own? Awesome if it has! Living in teeny Knysna, it feels like I'm Facebooking, emailing and posting into oblivion ;-)

  3. Haha! It absolutely has, and we're so glad. Your designs definitely aren't "teeny" though - lots of bright colours and bold prints. Where do you draw inspiration from?
    Living in Africa, you'd think my inspirations would be more Afrocentric. And once upon a time they probably were. But I now find myself gravitating towards the simplicity and boldness of Scandinavian design. I love the way their designs, from furniture to product design to textiles, are so simple and clever, but haven't lost that human touch. Personality is also such a strong component in their work, as is color – they are so good at mixing up scrumptious, unexpected color palettes. Scandi design makes me smile. It has a strong emotional pull for me.


  4. I love that you've taken the very simple aesthetics of Scandi design but managed to make them pop. What are some more interesting facts about your designs?

    It's really important to me to have iSpy products be as handmade as possible. A lot of my formal graphic design training centered around hand rendered design and illustration, so it's always been close to my heart. I believe this adds something special and gives my products a little bit of soul. I also want to support fellow Knysnarians wherever possible. All my designs are meticulously screenprinted by hand by a small family-run studio called The Natural Hand and my products are sewn by a jolly group of township ladies called Women of Vision. The leather components of my totes are sewn by the local shoe repair guy who operates just around the corner from our shop, so my bags take their place in the queue of shoes waiting for repairs.

  5. That sounds like an amazing little community you've built up. Ok, last question. It obviously has to be "I Spy, with my little eye, something beginning with..." domination, one town at a time ;-)

We can't say we'd mind! Living in a world full of colour and pretty prints sounds awesome, to be honest. You can see more of Lauren's work in the iSpy Hello Pretty store, and get in touch on Facebook.

Orange Crush

I have been crushing severely on this gorgeous ring for months, and have sworn to make it mine as soon as possible. The silver setting is crafted into a protea design, and the carnelian is perfect for a pop of colour, winter or summer. Get yours from Sweet Pea here.

We featured this ring in our newsletter this week, along with a curated collection of awesome orange items. There's a new theme every week, so if you'd like to be kept in the loop, sign up below!

Under R250? Yes indeedy!

If you're looking for beautiful things on a budget, Hello Pretty has you covered. This gorgeous minimalist necklace is handmade from polymer clay and is perfect to accessorise your winter blues and greys. (Ooh, I made a rhyme!) You can get yours from Doeksisters here.

We featured this necklace in our newsletter this week, along with a curated collection of gorgeous items under R250. There's a new theme every week, so if you'd like to be kept in the loop, sign up below!

Pretty Personal with Jessica Binns

Pretty Personal with Jessica Binns

Charming Jessica from Hector & Bailey is much like the designs she produces - whimsical, gorgeous, and with a really interesting story behind her! We decided to find out what that story is.

Pretty Personal with Jessica Binns

  1. Hello Jess! Tell us a little about yourself.


    Hello there. I moved to Durban from the UK two and a half years ago. It was a spontaneous decision which is totally unlike me, but love was involved, so I'll say no more... I started Hector & Bailey, my interiors company, back in London and it only seemed right to bring it to South Africa to give the company a chance here. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.


  2. And the UK's loss is SA's gain! How did Hector & Bailey come into being?


    Hector & Bailey was the outcome of a very sad situation. In 2009, amidst the depths of recession, the architectural company I worked for went under. I decided to take my chances as a freelance interior designer and go it alone. I had 10 years experience under my belt, so I thought it was worth pursuing. I'm very glad I did, I've been out of my comfort zone ever since, but that's what keeps me on my toes. So in conclusion, Hector & Bailey is my silver lining.


  3. That must have taken guts. What inspires the H&B ethos and aesthetic?


    I love to seek out unwanted items and nurture them into the best they can be. Everything - like everyone - has the true potential to be utterly wondrous, and I adore being part of that process. My influences tend to lean towards colour, however I'm currently embracing my neutral side. You can't fail to be inspired by the flora and fauna that reside in this country. I am also crazy mad for cats and the odd G&T too!


  4. We could be sisters! Cats and G&Ts are basically fuel for Team HP. Tell us a bit more about the wonderful things you make and remake?


    The upcycling and product ranges from Hector & Bailey began when I moved here. I had spent far too long in front of a computer and wanted to be more hands on, plus I needed a reason to work outside and soak up the beautiful African sun!  So I set to work transforming furniture from our garage. This grew to upcycled cushions and lights and then on to product design of cushions, perspex planters and coasters. I like to keep busy. :) Aside from the retail side, my day job is interior design & decor. My work has taken me to places as far as Mozambique - I love the diversity this industry has.


  5. I believe your mom is also very talented. Did that play a part in your story, do you think?


    My mum is an extremely creative lady and has been a firm role model in my life. I think my emotional responses to beautiful, well made, ethical items is a trait I picked up from her. There has to be meaning behind things, whether it's the process of how it was made to the history tied up in that one item. Emotion plays a huge role in design, I wouldn't have that any other way.


Absolutely right - and gorgeous design is one of our favourite things (along with cats and G&Ts of course). You can see Jessica's latest treasures in the Hector & Bailey Hello Pretty store, and stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

All That Glitters

What better way to keep track of something than by pinning it front and centre with a fabulous glittery thumbtack? These beauties are also available in pink. You can get yours from Peg & Pencil here.

We featured these in our newsletter this week, along with a curated collection of our favourite sparkly things. There's a new theme every week, so if you'd like to be kept in the loop, sign up below!

Pretty Personal with Rhett Baker

Pretty Personal with Rhett Baker

Living in sunny SA, we all know the importance of a good pair of shades (even in winter!). So you can imagine what a design crush we have on Kraft Eyewear - handmade with reclaimed wood and a lot of love. The crafty Rhett Baker is the man behind Kraft, so we had a few questions for him.

Pretty Personal with Rhett Baker

  1. Hello Rhett! Tell us a little about yourself.

    Kraft is me and my wife Kerry. I have a background in graphic design and finishing carpentry.  At the beginning of 2013 I was in a job in sales, least suited to me, driving round endlessly looking for clientele which were driving me insane. I had been in the building/carpentry trade for the last 8 years, and was yearning to do something with my hands again. One day I went for a hair cut at Durban's finest barber (Ed. note: Hi Nev!) where the coffee shop owner from next door came in. I noticed he was wearing a pair of glasses made from bamboo, and that really got me thinking - I could make those out of wood! I immediately went home to Google if anyone had thought of that. To my surprise wooden sunglasses had been a trend in the US and Europe for quite a few years. I set out to make my first pair, and the rest is history.

  2. That's a great set of coincidences - Kraft got started because you were getting a haircut in the right place at the right time! Why the name "Kraft"?

    The name Kraft speaks for itself. Each pair of sunglasses we put out has been individually handmade with care, using old techniques inspired by the craftsmen of the past. We aren't reinventing the wheel, just trying to put out a truly handcrafted product.

  3. What inspires your designs?

    We are inspired by our surroundings, all the thought and love that goes into the creation around us, as well as the amazing bespoke manmade creations we find. Anything bespoke and natural.

  4. We're living in a great time for design. Can you tell us a little more about your amazing sunnies?

    Our products are made from quality natural products. Wood is salvaged from unused offcuts from local furniture manufactures and repurposed, rather than buying new products. Recycling in this way reduces the wastage of our earth's resources.
    Every part of the making process is done by hand using small hand-oriented machinery as opposed to the large scale CNC milling or laser cutting done by most companies. 
    Every pair is hand cut on a scroll saw, something that takes a lot of patience and coordination, but makes the outcome is a truly hand crafted product. The cutting process also ensures that each piece is unique and easily customisable.
    We use the highest quality hinges available as well as quality polarized lenses - all come standard with your pair of Krafts.

  5. And is there a story behind the style names?

    As a Durbanite, born and bred, I really love this underrated city. There is so much talent coming out of this place. All our models are named after old street names  and landmarks, as a homage to this wonderful and colourful city . With my product I hope to lend to the pool of talent coming out of this awesome place.

His future's so bright, he has to wear shades - a pair of Krafts, naturally. You can get your very own pair here, and stay in touch with Kraft's news on Facebook.

Paint it Black

Black Heart Ring by Kosbaar on Hello Pretty

When in doubt, you can't go wrong with black. But there's no reason to limit yourself to an LBD - indulge your dark side with gorgeous black accessories and homeware as well. This dainty maple plywood and fabric ring is from Kosbaar - get your here!

We featured this ring in our newsletter this week, along with a curated collection of black and charcoal items - perfect for winter. There's a new theme every week, so if you'd like to be kept in the loop, sign up below!

Save the Date

Personalised Statement Ring by Thula on Hello Pretty

This week, we all fell head over heels with this gorgeous handmade, hand engraved, personalised statement ring. This swoonworthy piece would make the perfect gift for any special occasion. Get it engraved with a meaningful date, and you and your sweetie's initials - perfect! You can order yours from Thula here.

We featured this ring in our newsletter this week, along with a curated collection of wedding-inspired items. There's a new theme every week, so if you'd like to be kept in the loop, sign up below!


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