Into the fold

‘I’m very process driven,” says architect and designer Richard Stretton, of Durban firm Koop Design. ‘I seldom have a clear idea when I start. It’s a good way of removing ego from the design process. There are five things that influence the outcome of an object — design, geographical context, social context, materiality and available manufacturing processes. If you make yourself personally important in that, you mess with the balance.

‘I don’t use computers to draw. I design by hand. Then my office models it up and I draw over it by hand again. For me, it’s a very tactile experience. I need the friction in my pen to make a mark.

‘The linenfold table was made for the Joburg Art Fair, so it didn’t come with a traditional ‘client’. It allowed me to explore. On an aesthetic level, I was interested in traditional furniture design that used linenfold in the scrolled shapes on the fascia of tables, of antique furniture. I wanted to pursue that, make it slightly more contemporary. I’d been wanting to make a wooden bed where the sides were carved to look like a night frill made out of timber. I wanted to use the wood grain to imitate the fall of linen. With the table, I wanted to make a table with a timber tablecloth.

“Halfway through, I realised people would still need to get their legs under the table and so the design changed. It became a sideboard — with an elongated height and length, a different profile. It added to the elegance of the design.

‘I’m very traditional — I use traditional components. This was more modern. All the timber was ­robotically formed. But it was all hand-assembled.

‘We used maple because it’s so hard. This is a very engineered piece of furniture. I also liked the subtle grain of the wood. By scooping it out, along the ‘folds’ the grain became more pronounced. This surprised me during the production process; it wasn’t something I’d anticipated.

‘This table is all about imperfect symmetry and proportion. Like a Paul Smith stripe. How does he make them look so nice? It’s the relationship of wide to narrow. A massive reduction of elements. Even bar codes can be beautiful. One method does not deny another. You have to have a good eye.”

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories