On the Scene

Exhibition of new work by Lyndi Sales: NO PLACE

Rainbows are ethereal and have represented throughout history for almost every culture some form of utopian thinking. In Cape Town artist, Lyndi Sales’ new exhibition of work at WHAT IF THE WORLD gallery entitled No Place, she seeks to observe the artistic and scientific bridge between nature and humanity in an intersection of reason and wonder focused around the ephemeral rainbow.

Sales finds rainbows everywhere and they have been a theme throughout her work as an artist exploring ideas of space, illusion and time. In this latest collection Sales uses the medium of weaving through color and reflection to investigate the rainbow in all its magic and transience and relate it to a desire for alternatives, a better way of living. Sales took a weaving course to bring this new medium through and into her work in this exhibition. So inspired by it, she plans on visiting Morocco next year for another course in the ancient craft.

Lyndi Sales’ No Place is on exhibit at WHAT IF THE WORLD GALLERY in Woodstock through until 17 October 2015.

Link

Design for Tomorrow: Open Design Festival in Cape Town

www.opendesignct.com

Can design change the world? According to The Open Design Festival, who opens their neon green programme with a quote from possibly the greatest thinker of all time, Albert Einstein, it can and it is. Einstein said, We cannot solve the complex challenges of the future by doing what we’ve done in the past. We need to think and act differently.” How do we get everyone to think outside the box when we’ve predominantly been taught to stay within the lines?

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The Open Design Festival is being held in 4 locations across Cape Town: Woodstock, V&A Waterfront, City Hall and Langa from 13-23 August 2015. It aims to inspire new ways of thinking with a host of mediums to activate our minds from workshops on architecture for children to expos of vintage toys to rails of nouveau African chic to talks on career, education, and socio-economic development not much is left to the wayside. And much if not most of the festival is free of charge thanks to The City of Cape Town and an array of creative sponsors.

As anything vintage always peaks my interest, I began the Open Design Festival at the charming and historical location of Cape Town’s City Hall. On the 2nd floor of the City Hall in a room all to its great own, were hundreds of decade-old toys arranged as art around the room. I have always loved toys: plastic, tin, wood, anything with a bright demeanor to bring a child’s face to life. For some people, toys are seen as clutter not to be included in the decor throughout one’s home of design and modern satisfaction. I have never seen toys that way, and it was inspiring to see an entire exhibited celebrating toys as art.

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For fashion, there were many exciting new designers to peak my interest, including AYA, who uses African textiles combined with tailored cuts to give the African chic a powerful lift. I found an incredible vintage coat, that at first sight looked more like a couch on a hanger but once on it was a 70s retro-piece of note with linear quilted genuine leather panels and big green coat buttons. Belted, she was a complete score! This find was found on The Godmother’s rails whose collections can be viewed regularly along with other collectors at The Threads Project at 349 Albert Road in Woodstock.

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Down the passage past the collections of ART books on tattoos and raw food cooking for kids, was an interesting stop at a Maker’s Station where one could watch art in its process at the Exhibit: Lessons in Transformation by artists Katherine Bull and Warren Editions collaborating in print, engraving and performance about none other than the great Nelson Mandela’s famous speech within those very walls at the Cape Town City Hall. Next door were two more giant rooms filled with some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists making their customary provocative statements. Works by Brett Murray, William Kentridge and Christo Basson were just some of the thought provoking art on exhibit in an initiative called HOST.

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Brett Murray

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If what you see at the Open Design Festival isn’t enough to get you thinking outside the box, then perhaps it will awaken your heart. To quote one of William Kentridge’s pieces now on exhibit at the City Hall, “If you have no eye then use your heart.

Dassies by Christo Basson

Dassies by Christo Basson

Petro Steyn aka SKEET, Designer of Abstract Street Wear

Petro Steyn is the creator of and designer for the street wear label SKEET, though these days Steyn says of her designs, ” I don’t know where I fit in? It’s not fashion. It’s not art. It’s couture. It’s avant garde.” Steyn has never really fit in, hence the name, Skeet. The direct translation of the word Skeet from Afrikaans to English is defined as: caprice, fart, hypochondria, imaginary ailment, whim. Skeet was the name her sister Antonia gave her many years ago and her longtime friend Anri du Toit, AKA: Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord convinced her to name her new label Skeet when it first emerged. “Ninja drew up the logo for me in like less than 3 minutes with his left hand.” Steyn remembers.  In many ways, Skeet’s designs carry this whimsical, magical element of design and creation with her latest creations landing her designs on the front cover of the new local hipster magazine, The Lake.

Petro Steyn, Skeet Creator and Designer, in one of her latest neoprene designed masks.

Petro Steyn, Skeet Creator and Designer, in one of her latest neoprene designed masks.

In her earlier years Petro was part of a very prestigious Ballet School which she remembers as very degrading. She says it was like The Black Swan. She wanted to get away from it so she began studying at the Haute Couture School of Fashion Design in Cape Town. Fresh out of Haute Couture she started making hoodies that were also scarves, many one-off pieces, and she began selling her designs at Misfit, the then “It” clothing store for local street fashion in Cape Town. For years she designed under the label Misfit. I tell Petro I still have one of the incredible dresses she designed almost a decade ago. I called it the Chanel dress with a double V low back and front in marble black matte, thick satin fabric and vertically pleated from the waist to the knee. You know if a dress makes it 10 years in the wardrobe and is still there, it is a gem! After attending the Magic Show in Las Vegas to represent Misfit, she decided to start teaching pattern making in the fashion design department as the University of Technology.

Skeet: Street Couture

Skeet: Street Couture

She taught for 3 years before getting the itch to design a label again and from there White Noise was created as a street couture label. It was all black and white with cartoony eyes. She did a show at The District 6 Museum and much of her work was sold. This is when she began to really create and source out new and interesting materials to work with. She started getting off-cuts of neoprene from surf shops. She says, “It was like magic. Gluing the pieces together and suddenly I had two animal ears and birds tails and futuristic shoulder pieces.”

Skeet's neoprene designs launch at the What If The World Show in Cape Town.

Skeet’s neoprene designs launch at the What If The World Show in Cape Town in 2008.

In 2008, Steyn launched the neoprene masks and bodysuits at a What if The World Show. Though she didn’t sell a lot at that particular show, it was very well received and led to her inclusion in a Nike campaign for their new shoes “Dunks.”

Neoprene bodysuit designed by Petro Steyn for Nike "Dunks" Campaign.

Neoprene bodysuit designed by Petro Steyn for Nike’s Dunks Campaign.

Petro’s designs took another turn inwards, one could say with her dedication to her practice of Kundalini Yoga. She began designing yoga clothing for Gururamdas studio in Cape Town. She was making harem pants designed for yoga. At the same time her old friends Die Antwoord were becoming increasing popular as they shot to fame through you tube videos with their music and performance. Yolandi and Ninja approached her and asked her if she could design outfits for them to perform in. She made white tracksuits for both of them and Ninja painted on them in Roger Ballen style. The costumes became their permanent performance clothing in the beginning. Die Antwoord used all of their friends as part of their artistic circle like Sins of Style, Scar and Chommies. Although Skeet started in 2010 with a colorful range of delicious monsters and octopuses on tracksuit style clothing, Steyn admits, ” I didn’t even have a website so I missed the boat. I can’t sell. I can only make. It’s only now, yesterday, that I made an Etsy Shop Skeeeet to be ready for your blog.”

Sketchings of Skeet designed costumes for Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord.

Skeet designed the X X costume that Yolandi wore to perform in her early days during Die Antwoord’s rise to fame.

Steyn AKA Skeet says of the masks she is creating today, ” I looked back at my portfolio and looked at what was unique and what worked. I wanted to create a product that’s not clothing. No one has done neoprene, it’s more sculptural and it had been well received at the WITW Show where they launched. I was inspired by these David Choe dolls to make masks which were actually a gift from Yolandi. I made a cat, a mouse and a fox. I posted them on Facebook and instantly someone wanted to buy one.”

Skeet designed masks and bodysuits are returning to center stage and are not available to purchase.

Skeet designed masks and bodysuits are returning to center stage and are not available to purchase.

I say to Petro, “It’s quite amazing to land on the first issue cover of The Lake. It’s so hipster, the magazine.”

Spoken like a true artist she replies, ” I hate hipster because it’s the next cool thing and this is not. This is not made to be cool or hip. It’s made to be fresh and original, something that no one can copy or make.”

Petro Steyn’s masks are selling for R1800 ($150) and can be purchased on Etsy or by enquiry on Skeet’s Facebook page.

The Other Form of Design in Cape Town: FILM

Design and craft are not the only art forms being produced at a world-class level in Cape Town, as all Cape Townians know, the film industry thrives in our magical little seaside city. Cape Town has been a hot spot for International film makers and television commercials for decades, though it is recently on the rise with dozens of International TV series and feature films expected to shoot on our shores, in our studios and with the growing respected local crews of South Africa this winter.

While working in wardrobe on a US commercial just a few weeks back, I sat down with the International art director brought over from Los Angeles (he had a South African counter part art directing as well). We chatted for awhile about Los Angeles and his love/hate relationship with the city of angels. He admitted he is away a lot and hardly anything gets filmed in LA anymore. Though it was a pity he said, as it is the birthplace of film and tv with hundreds of incredible prop shops from years past, it is just too expensive to film in LA anymore. He named Cape Town, Buenos Aries, Prague and Toronto the top cities to film in these days. Atalanta and Detroit (recently bankrupt) were US cities that producers were choosing to film in to keep the budget costs down. While many of us here in Cape Town worry about the ailing Rand, overseas film producers and agencies see the gap and the work is pouring into our beautiful and creative hub of a city.

As a creative and stylist, it has been a natural progression for me to enter into the industry this season, (let’s be honest it has sucked me in) and since I have, the work has been flowing. The great thing about the growing industry is that there are so many projects being shot here that there is room for many stylists to pick and choose who they work with and what they work on. Beware though, it is an industry, especially for commercials, that feeds on your adreniline with high pressure to meet deadlines and notorious long hours, though for many it is an opportunity to create and work with like-minded creatives on your own terms as an independent contractor. It is not for the faint hearted, but it is for the those who enjoy being part of a team working to produce and create something magical on camera whether it be a vignette from a product commercial or creating a character on a second season of a TV series.

Lulu Kingsley, Designer Extraordinaire

Lulu uses a mirage of materials to design and crochet her bags including ropes, cables, fringe, African textiles, silks and tassels.

Lulu Kingsley uses a mirage of materials to design and crochet her bags including ropes, cables, fringe, African textiles, silks and tassels.

Lulu Kingsley, Creator and Director of Lulu K Designs, has designed just about everything and her life itself has maybe been her greatest design. Born in England but raised in South Africa, Lulu finished school and began in fashion design trading under the name Rizzo Clothing on the then, uber trendy Green Market Square. After her first child was born (Lulu is a mother of 4 beautiful creations) she moved to the UK where she designed anything from shop fittings to gardens. The landscape design led her to an Olive Farm in Spain where she and her growing family lived for 6 years before returning to Cape Town in 2008. Once she returned she began consulting in design until one day Lulu K began with a mere piece of red string. “I came across this cable, it was just a piece of red rope, and I started experimenting with different ways of using it. The look was amazing and I thought let me try to make a bag.” She had an incredible response and before she knew it she was making one-offs bags for people and the orders did not stop.

The Ixia, Crochet weaved cable over traditional African cotton fabric. As you wear it the item loosens to create a chic shape.

The Ixia, Crochet weaved cable over traditional African cotton fabric. As you wear it the item loosens to create a chic shape.

Through Lulu’s life, strewn across the hemispheres, it is clear she is willing to experiment with different mediums and environments. Sometimes being an outsider looking in really helps you to see the gaps or what is needed or even simply what really matters. Lulu says, “When I came back to this country (South Africa) I knew I needed to find a way to work with people from disadvantaged backgrounds.” She placed an ad on Gumtree choosing 4 ladies and she just gave them needles and materials. “I literally paid them to play, knitting and crocheting.” Though she was happy to be employing 4 women, she still wanted to be more involved with the townships. She found an incredible charitable organization, Ikamva Labantu, who work with pensioners in the townships. She got in touch with them and discovered that a factory had recently closed down and a lot of pensioners needed work. At the time in 2011, pensioners in South Africa only received R12,000 a year, less than $100 a month! This was not enough to survive and most of them needed another form of income. She was introduced to a small group of ladies, all in their mid-late 60s. Today Lulu employs 14 women in the townships as weavers making the bags.

Lulu and the Ladies who Weave for Lulu K. Each bag comes complete with a "Passport of Authentication" telling the buyer the name of the bag the person who assembled it and the date which is was made.

Lulu and the Ladies who Weave for Lulu K. Each bag comes complete with a “Passport of Authentication” telling the buyer the name of the bag, the person who assembled it and the date which  it is was made.

Lulu chooses to go into the townships rather than asking the ladies to come into the city to alleviate transportation costs and difficulties. For the last 4 years Lulu has gone in to various townships across the N1 and N2 highway on a weekly basis to work with the ladies.”When you go in and you see their environment, they are living in corrugated shacks, and they’ve got no money, but still they have a smile on their face. They believe in God. It’s very humbling.”Lulu says, ” It really makes sense for how bad your life isn’t, and it works the same way for them. They don’t think their life is bad. Their relationship bonds are much stronger as they have to rely on each other because they have nothing else to rely on.” Lulu concludes, ” As long as I can give an income to these women then it’s an income for my soul.”

A model from Lulu K's latest look book, holds a Dahlia.

A model from Lulu K’s latest look book, holds a Dahlia with fringe.

Lulu admits that in the beginning it was difficult to make ends meet with Lulu K. Although the business was growing, the materials, labor and marketing outweighed the turnover.  She remembers at the Design Indaba last year, “We weren’t ready. We didn’t have enough stock.” The demand was there and Lulu K received orders from several retailers in Europe, but the production wasn’t tight enough. At the next Design Indaba coming up in a few short weeks, they are now ready! Lulu has employed a head of logistics and a head of sales, giving her more time to concentrate on design and marketing.

Lulu K can now produce 10 of each style in a week. There ware 7-8 styles, though they are always being updated, changed or fixed. All the bags are named with African names: Adia, Ixia, Emem, Iris, Boniswa, Mbali, Dahlia, Nuru. Some are named after the ladies who make them and others, like the Mbali, with a beautiful meaning translated from Xhosa as “flower”. Lulu K bags can be found locally at the Watershed, Peach, The One and Only Hotel, Africa Nova, The Mount Nelson and Peacock Blue in Franschoek.

Lulu holds one of her newest designs not yet in stores, an oversized crochet woven clutch available in neon yellow, pink and orange lined in African fabrics.

Lulu holds one of her newest designs not yet in stores, an oversized crochet woven clutch available in neon yellow, pink and orange lined in African fabrics.

All the materials used for the bags are locally made, and Lulu even designs her own cables. She sits with the suppliers and adds a little bit of gold or thickens an already woven rope. “We play with things until we get the right mix.” Lulu explains.

Lulu  K has also started a range of outer-ware with crochet bikinis, short tops with larger crochet weaves and more recently a move into working with new materials of wool, bamboo and mohair for upcoming winter pieces.

Involved in even the making of the material, Lulu works with rope suppliers to custom design her own rope.

Involved in even the making of the material, Lulu works with rope suppliers to custom design her own rope.

For Lulu design seems to be an integral part of her life, always evolving and taking shape. She says she still has a dream to do shoes. Ugg sort of boots in a knitted cable. Lulu says, “It’s about finding the right people and putting the right people and materials together and creating something.” If Lulu’s entire life is anything to judge by, there is a lot more to come.

Grand Opening of the Watershed

Discovering new designs with artist and friend Lyndi Sales

Discovering new designs at the Watershed with Lyndi Sales, installation artist.

The Watershed , Africa’s new home for craft and design held its grand opening last night at the Waterfront. Although it has been open for a few weeks now and already had a soft opening, the grand event was the finale complete with dancing entertainment, food stall trucks, craft beer on tap and wine bars where one could buy not only a glass but could take home an entire case of South African wine if preferred.

With over 150 exhibitors of design and craft from furniture to jewelry, kids clothing to african chic vintage, there is no doubt that one can find the finest on offer in Cape Town. Some of my favorite designers now exhibiting here are Missibaba, Moonbasket, Ithalomso, Puchulik and Skermunkil. Some favorite new discoveries included wallpaper from Robin Sprong, benches by Vogel, rope baskets by Aliza Sholk and chairs by James Mudge among many others. Open 364 days a year from 9am to 9pm with a contemporary market feel, the Watershed is like a permanent Design Indaba, making it the perfect place for anyone interested in export to source designs.

The exhibiting stalls on the first floor gave way to creatively designed spaces put together on the second floor of various designs to be found at the Watershed. This allowed a potential interior designer or connoisseur to envision how one design fit with another. It gave the entire project a mass thread that pulled South African craft onto a stage that is of the best design to be seen in the world.

All Roads Lead Home, Handmade Craft in the Mother City

Perhaps she is called the Mother City because all roads inevitably lead you back to where it all began for all of us so many thousands of years ago. Reminders of the largest continent, Africa, are not only in the languages you hear or the music pulsating out from taxis but most certainly from the wide array of craft that makes its final way to Cape Town before being sold in markets to tourists or exported overseas in containers.

Cape Town graffiti art literally glows gold at different times of the day changing the mood. Mama Africa says farewell on a building as motorists leave the Cape Town's city bowl.

Cape Town graffiti art by Faith 47 glows gold at different times of the day changing her mood. Mama Africa says farewell on a building as motorists leave Cape Town’s city bowl.

Not only is there a wide array of local craft being made in South Africa, there is also craft coming from all over the African continent. Many of the beautifully woven baskets are coming from neighboring countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Jewelry, beads and textiles are coming from Ghana to Ethiopia. Carpets and shoes are coming from Morocco. Wooden art from Gabon. And all of it can be found in the Mother City.

Plastic woven bangles made in Senegal.

Plastic woven bangles made in Senegal.

If you would like to be involved in the crafting, just head down to the African Women’s Market on Long Street and you’ll find one of the seamstress who will make you your own tailored dress with any of the dozens of patterns she has. You can bring your own fabrics or choose from her selection of African textiles.

Seamstress at the African Women's Market on Long Street in Cape Town.

Seamstress at the African Women’s Market on Long Street in Cape Town.

Rob Walker, founder and owner of Ashanti Designs, in Cape Town employs entire villages in Malawi and Mozambique to craft his product: baskets, furniture and bags all woven from natural fibers. When asked about lead times for export orders, Rob smiles and says, “It depends. If there is a funeral in the village they mourn the loss for sometimes weeks unlike Westerners who hold a funeral for maybe a day maybe two. We work on African time.” Lead times for larger export orders are therefore a bit longer 6-8 weeks.

Basket Crafters in Malawi weaving chairs and lampshades to be exported from Cape Town.

Basket Crafters in Malawi weaving chairs and lampshades to be exported from Cape Town.

 Basket making is a centuries old craft handed down from one generation to the next  throughout Africa.

Basket making is a centuries old craft handed down from one generation to the next throughout Africa.

An entire village in Malawi employed to craft baskets to be sold in The Mother City.

An entire village in Malawi employed to craft baskets to be sold in The Mother City.

The Watershed: Africa’s New Home for Craft and Design

The Watershed, Africa’s new home for craft and design is set to open on October 9, 2014 with over 150 crafters and designers to entice you. Formerly know as the Red Shed at the Waterfront next to the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Watershed is a re-invention of what was with more contemporary cutting-edge designers at the forefront of the fashion and design scene in Cape Town. Amongst the new designers on board including Famke, Spaza, Mungo and Jemima, Lulu K, Imagenius and many others you will also find some of the same, yet new and improved, crafters from the olden days of the Red Shed.

The Watershed at the Waterfront in Cape Town set to open October 9, 2014

The Watershed at the Waterfront in Cape Town set to open October 9, 2014

Over 150 South African exhibitors setting up at the Watershed to sell contemporary craft and design made locally.

Over 150 South African exhibitors setting up at the Watershed to sell contemporary craft and design made locally.

Lulu K Designs will be one of the exhibitors to find here. Lulu K designs exquisite handbags and belts made by local women in South Africa through an empowerment project.

Lulu K Designs, www.lulukdesigns.com, will be one of the exhibitors to find here. Lulu K designs exquisite handbags and belts made by local women in South Africa through an empowerment project.

The Watershed is a project run by Trevor and Julian McGowan of The Southern Guild or Source who have been agents for local South African designers and crafters to many top companies for years including Anthropologie and West Elm in the United States and Conrad’s in the UK.

They have completely gutted the former building and you can now walk through what feels more like a warehouse or contemporary marketplace to shop some of Cape Town’s finest designers from 9am-9pm daily. Upstairs is set to be a market place for holistic healing and medicine and right next door is the Food Lover’s Market brewing with fine foods, making this new area of Cape Town sure to be the next hotspot to be seen, heard, fed and now dressed!