Monday, May 31, 2010

Busy little bee

Hey everyone!

You might have surmised from the few-and-far-between posts during the last few weeks that I'm not having much success fitting in the blog between everything else I need to do. Due to my increased workload, blog posting will therefore be suspended indefinitely. I'd like to thank all of you for your readership and comments so far, and I'll let you know the moment Fabric of Living is back in action.

Have an awesome week and keep appreciating life's little delights! :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

For wonderful weddings

If you're engaged, congratulations! Now all the planning has to start... And who better to help you than Leipzig Floral Design, a Stellenbosch-based florist and venue design company. In fact, it needn't even be a wedding - they also do all sorts of functions and corporate events. I spoke to Anneke from Leipzig recently, so read on to find out more about this creative enterprise!

Images: Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen

Anneke, why don't you introduce us to the team at Leipzig. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it? How did Leipzig start?

Leipzig opened its doors for business in 2002. Founder and owner Izette Carinus grew up on a flower farm nestled in the Nuy valley. She put her natural talent to work in building a reputation of excellence. Since then the company has grown tremendously and now employs 5 full-time and 3 seasonal staff members. Leipzig is currently based in Stellenbosch. 

It must be wonderful working in the beautiful wine estates and historic churches of the Western Cape. Do you have any favourite venues where you love working, or any particular venue you've done a lot of weddings at?

We work at various venues in and around the Western Cape; stretching as far as the informal beach hut, Strandkombuis, in Yzerfontein to the posh Marine Hotel in Hermanus. Each season brand new venues enter the wedding industry, Molenvliet Estate as an example has experienced overnight success. This season we did a lot of weddings at Vrede & Lust and worked with Yolanda Kotze. It’s definitely one of our favourite venues with unbelievably beautiful surroundings.

Can you tell us a bit more about what's popular in flowers and event décor at the moment? 

The 2009-2010 wedding season has seen the return of vintage glamour. Lots and lots of lace, embroidery detail, damask linen, opulent flowers etc. Proteas and indigenous flowers have been extremely popular.

The coming 2010-2011 season will most likely feature pastel pantones to kickstart the spring season and then take a more serious tone in more saturated hues during summer and autumn. Yellow, purple and blue are the unexpected pantones that will make a shy appearance at some of our more individualistic clients’ weddings. Lace will continue to be a popular tool to portray timeless elegance and detail. Mixing lace detail with an underlying “less is more” approach will result in the meaning of “modern elegance” taken to a new level. With the World Cup fever running on high, the proudly South-African infection will probably result in another season of indigenous flowers mixed with classical blooms (such as roses, peonies etc.). Asymmetrical flower designs are very popular at the moment.

What should brides take into account when planning the flowers for their wedding? Any tips for brides on a budget?

There are so many things to consider when planning your special day. But finalising the major areas such as your wedding date, venue of choice, photographer, décor and flowers, stationery etc. will be a good starting point. When planning your décor and flowers, try to minimise unnecessary costs by making sure your venue hire includes beautiful tables, chairs (even table linen and serviettes, which are included at some of the venues).

Try sticking to items that are not only beautiful on the tables but also practical. Chair decorations can be avoided if you invest in a stunning chair such as the Tiffany or Bikini chair. Underplates and serviette décor can be replaced with beautiful, rich linen, contrasted with plain cream / ivory serviettes.

Try to make use of the flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding. This will keep costs down, for example tulips are only available during winter months and peonies are only available during November in SA. Importing a specific flower will result in unnecessary expenses and hassle.

Less is more. If you keep the amount of labour involved to a minimum the overall cost is likely to be much less.

Try to keep delivery costs down by choosing a supplier situated close to your venue of choice.

Use your bridal bouquet and place it on the register table when taking pictures of signing the register.

Round/ square tables can work out cheaper, depending on the amount of items you would like to place on each table. For example, one container filled with loosely arranged flowers versus a variety of six small containers each filled with a floral design.

Note that if your wedding falls on a day that’s significant on the floral calendar, such as Mother's Day, Valentines Day etc., you are likely to pay double for your flowers due to the great demand for flowers over this period of time.

Wow, thanks for all these useful tips, Anneke! Weddings tend to be expensive affairs these days and we need all the help we can get. You can send Anneke an e-mail here or make enquiries for your function here. Visit Leipzig's website for lots of beautiful inspiration.

Aren't these photographs unbelievable, by the way? I'm going to check out the photographers' websites right now. And don't even get me started on the flowers! I absolutely adore fresh flowers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Meet Miss Fluff

Good morning, all you stylish people! You might remember me mentioning some of the wonderfully quirky products by Fluff here and here. Well, today I'll be talking to the girl in charge of Fluff and all its cuteness: Miss Fluff herself! Claudette Barjoud, also known as Miss Fluff, studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn (majoring in film and animation) before graduating from the New World School of the Arts in Miami as a computer arts major. Now, let's hear more about her and her girlie chic label!

WSW Alert! Fluff

Claudette, tell us: how long has Fluff been around? What did you do before you opened your online store?

I worked for several companies doing illustration and product/packaging design before starting Fluff. One of my favorite jobs was as a designer for Frederick's of Hollywood. What fun I had flinging thongs about at work! I got to design the cheekiest things there, including packaging for edible underwear and different flavors of whipped body cream! I also liked working there because they had a treasure trove of vintage catalogs
from the 1950's that had the most fantastic pinup-style artwork.

Fluff started as a scribble in my sketchbook long ago. It was something I had been dreaming about for quite a while. In 2002 I decided to give it a chance. I  took some time off of work to draw up about 24 glitter and rhinestoned greeting card designs and showed them at the gift show in Los Angeles. That was the very first debut of Fluff!  

Tell us more about Fluff and what it's about.

Fluff is about super cute, ultra glam stuff inspired by retro/ vintage style. I just love designing things that make you want to say "ooh! That is so cute!!" or simply just squeal with delight!

What does your average day look like?

I am usually surgically attached to my computer for most of the day, designing the next collections and also keeping up with the website, which I update myself. When not on the computer I like to paint and do sculpture.

What inspires you, in your art and as a person?

Oh, lot's of things! It could be anything.... coming across an interesting piece of vintage wallpaper or fabric,
the colors of a painting, somone's shoe. But overall I am find myself inspired by the art and style of the 1920's through the 60's. I love anything and everything from those decades, the art, the fashion, advertising graphics, hair styles, makeup etc... I especially love pinup art like that of artists such as Enoch Bowles and Elvgren.
Also growing up with Hello Kitty and Barbie they seem to be ingrained in my DNA!

How would you describe the décor in your own home?

It is an eclectic mix of mid century modern, tiki, and sparkly artwork with lots of crystals. 

Are there any designers, labels or online stores that you're a big fan of?

Yes! Betsey Johnson, Lulu Guiness, Anna Sui, Tarina Tarantino, Fornarina. They are all very glamorous, fun and imaginative.

Where can we find you online or contact you?

I can be found through my site, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thanks so much, Claudette, for chatting to us! I can't speak for everyone, but I know I certainly squeal with delight whenever I see new products in the Fluff store! I particularly love the new Sweet Shoppe Collection and Fluff's greeting cards. There are also some marvellous Tattoo Pooch luggage tags just in, and you'll get 10% off your order if you buy before 28 May. So don't miss out!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Design diva

If you're craving some design talk, I've got just the thing this morning: an interview with Jesse Breytenbach, South African artist and designer, and author of the graphic novel I don't like chocolate. This is Jesse's third appearance on Fabric of Living - read the other posts here and here. Take it away, Jesse!

FoL: So Jesse, tell us how you got to where you are now. How did you get into design and where did you study/train?

JB: I studied Printmaking at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. I spent an awful lot of time doing extra-curricular things like drawing comics and illustrating letters to friends, so illustration seemed like a good idea when I left. I was lucky to get a freelance illustration job that stretched on for years, drawing for an educational publisher. They were new to the business, so we all learned as we went along. 

FoL: What does your typical day look like?

JB: Wake up around 8 am, coffee and e-mail, take the dog for a walk, then shopping and post office. Work until about noon. Half an hour or so of exercise or cleaning, then lunch. (I dislike both exercise and cleaning, so if I give myself only those two options, I'm likely to get something done. Usually I alternate between the two.) Work until about 4 or 5 pm, another walk for the dog, then supper, e-mail, TV, sleep. Because I work on so many different things, printing, drawing, sewing, I've found it helps to structure each day more or less the same. It's easier to figure out how long it will take to complete a commission if I work for the same amount of time each day. That said, deadlines can easily throw everything out, and I sometimes stay up all night to get things done.

FoL: Do you think SA is catching on with the trend of locally sourced and/or hand-made products? Can full-time designers and crafters make a living here? 

JB: I think it’s becoming important to some buyers; people do perhaps want to buy things that last, that mean something more than just being fashionable. Some crafters and designers do make a living here, but the majority of people that I know do a number of different things to earn money, including teaching and commissioned work. 

FoL: How long have you been on Etsy, and do you find that it's growing in popularity over here too? Where are the majority of your Etsy shoppers from?

JB: I've been on Etsy for a few years, and I've definitely noticed an increase in South African Etsy sellers recently. Especially after the launch of Paypal in South Africa! It's going to be even more attractive for locals once Etsy has their currency converter up and running, something that they say will happen later this year.
At the moment most of my customers are from the US, and the rest are from Britain and Australia. Etsy seems to be very much a US site; most of the press coverage I get is on blogs, as well, and most of those are American. (Though suddenly, in the last 6 months, South African blogs have started filling up my blog reader, so things are changing!)

FoL: Tell us about your graphic novel, I don't like chocolate. 

JB: It's about food and the sometimes strange ways we think about it. There are no superheroes, aliens, guns or explosions in it - just stories about women and their food. 

FoL: What inspires you, both as a designer and as a person?

JB: Ingenuity, simplicity, ease, elegance. But ridiculously fussy, impractical and over-the-top ideas appeal too. I'll fall for a design that has a sense of confidence and conviction, that is completely itself, regardless of its aesthetic.

FoL: Any décor tips for our readers?

JB: Try to get all the painting done within the first month of moving into a new house! Five years later, and I still haven't painted everything. 

Thanks so much for talking to us, Jesse! If you'd like to get your hands on some of Jesse's fabulous products, visit her Etsy shop. You can also check out her website here

Don't you just love that Bacon print by the way? I'm craving a BLT right about now!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweet, but edgy

As promised on Friday, today I'll be showcasing some delightful items by Vanilla Concrete, a South African ceramic design studio.

The close-knit team at Vanilla Concrete aim to manufacture everyday items that are beautiful and fun to use. All pieces are hand-crafted from original designs and they only produce between 500 and 1000 pieces during an eight-week period. Their collections include The Woman I Am, Plain White Butterfly and Rose Story, but my favourite is definitely the A Summer Poem collection, below.

And for something totally quirky for your home, there are these extraordinary creatures...

I love the purple one! She's called Milla. :-)

To see more of their designs or get your hands on some Vanilla Concrete, visit their website or send them an e-mail.

Friday, May 7, 2010

From England with love

If you love cricket as much as I do (which you probably don't), you'll know that South Africa is tackling England in Barbados tomorrow night as part of the ICC T20 World Cup. So I thought I'd feature a British designer to celebrate the event - but of course I first made sure her products are available in South Africa! Drumroll, please: I present to you...

WSW Alert! Donna Wilson

I love all these quirky things, but I have to say my favourites are the House Blanket ...

and this little guy named Rill.

You can buy all these fabulously original designs from Donna's website or read her blog here. Her ceramics remind me a little of the awesome local ceramic design studio Vanilla Concrete. I'll be featuring them on Monday, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rainbow nation

Good morning, everyone! I think it's high time for some authentically South African designs, so let's take a look at Heather Moore's funky products. Heather, well-known for her label Skinny laMinx, is an illustrator and designer from Cape Town. Her unique prints are available on all sorts of items like tea towels, cushions and aprons. I'll let these images from her website do the rest of the talking...

One of my favourite designs is the tongue-in-cheek I wish we had IKEA, below. We don't have IKEA in South Africa (which sucks), so Heather went and put all her favourite IKEA products, along with their titles and prices, on a tea towel as a kind of consolation prize. Brilliant!

You can buy Heather's designs from her Etsy store or read her very popular blog here.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Delicious dollhouse décor

WSW Alert! Miniature Patisserie

Imagine: all the colours, flavours and dainty garnishes of Gérard Mulot-style pastries without any of the calories! That's exactly what you can buy from Miniature Patisserie at Etsy. Here Pei Li (an "aspiring miniature artisan") hand-crafts tiny clay cakes, breads and desserts on a 1:12 scale, suitable for dollhouses or general decoration purposes. I think they're the most adorable little things ever - and, as someone who has trouble with 'miniature' activities like cake decorating, I have only the utmost respect for anyone who can add this much detail to something so small...

Here are some treasures from Miniature Patisserie's collection: feel free to ooh and aah! You can also read Pei's blog here.

All images: Miniature Patisserie

By the way, if you're in the Cape Town area and you'd like to learn how to make desserts like these (the edible version!), Vanilla House Patisserie will be presenting a 4-week dessert course in May and June. You can learn how to make fancy-sounding treats like brown sugar pavlova with cinnamon cream and caramelized bananas, pear galette with crème fraiche and honeyed walnut crunch, and vanilla pod crème brûlée with boudoir fingers. They're also planning other courses for the future. Contact Gayle for more information.

Mmm, now I feel like something sweet...