Best in show

Toothy Grin necklace by Missibaba

Chloe Townsend’s latest collection – Jungle Fever – was inspired by a recent trip to a northern Zambia, the bright colours and patterns of the women’s chitenges (traditional fabric sarongs) as they worked in the tobacco fields, the earthy colours of the bush, the glare of the African sun, and a hint of danger …

While handbags make up the core of each Missibaba collection (this season sees a range of new patterns and designs, including a larger beach bag in printed canvas with leather straps), the smaller accessories – belts, brooches, earrings and necklaces – are equally exclusive (and, often, more affordable).

“Our jewellery pieces are usually inspired by an idea or pattern for a bag embellishment,” explains Townsend. “They’re designed to set the mood for the collection and draw attention to other products rather than to be fast sellers, which allows them to be fairly nuts – and eventually find a home with a suitable nutter!”

The reversible Toothy Grin necklace (“as the name suggests, it’s inspired by the gaping jaws of very wild, vicious animals lurking in the African jungle”) is perhaps an unintentional stand-out piece, made from random colour combinations drawn from Missibaba’s leather stock. The necklace will be produced in small quantities, and retails for R650.  

Nursery range by Goet
“We love using pieces of timber and combining them with steel elements,” says George van Gass, who owns furniture and design company Goet together with his wife Rhoné.

While Goet is perhaps better known for their assertive “grown-up” designs – like the Stump Coffee Table, a solid timber stump with a metal insert – they will be launching a new baby range at FWD, which includes a cot, a dressing unit (or compactum) and toy boxes.

“The range started with our rocking horses,” says George (abstract rockers made of solid ash and brightly coloured steel), who adds that he wants to offer “timeless furniture” options for parents rather than the “abundance of ‘cottage’ pieces that engulf the [baby] market”.   

George says design elements have been kept deliberately simple. “Simple forms, shapes, colours. We don’t think it’s necessary to paint ducks and pigs on the pieces to make them look suitable for a child’s room. By using colours in clever combination we make it appealing for kids and parents alike.”

The kid’s range uses mainly plywood and MDF (medium-density fibreboard) that has been duco’d to achieve a smooth finish.

It might not help with sleep training, but these nursery items will certainly make living with small people easier on the eye.

Afrodite Bitters from Jorgensen’s Distillery
“Alcohol has many properties, but one is that it is the world's best potable organic solvent.”

It’s worth visiting the Jorgensen’s Distillery stand at FWD just to talk to owner and distiller Roger Jorgensen. He’ll also be debuting the company’s new range of aromatic cocktail bitters (which, Jorgensen says, are making a big comeback), and two vodka infusions.  

“There’s alchemy in matching herbs and researching new flavours from our fantastic plant diversity in South Africa,” he says.

Using the solvent properties of alcohol (their own pure wine spirits), Jorgensen “macerates combinations of aromatic and bitter herbs to create an intensely bitter extract”. The alcohol takes on the “colour, aroma, character and chemistry of the plants. Leaves and flowers need only a couple of days to give up their aroma and taste,” he explains, “where bark and seeds take weeks, and some roots a month or more.”

Each recipe uses a “bittering agent” (which makes your mouth pucker and stimulates saliva and digestive functions) – Jorgensen says he uses gentian root, quassia chips, wormwood, hops and Sutherlandia; if the final blend (filtered and bottled at around 48% alcohol) is too bitter, fynbos honey or agave syrup might be added. Jorgenson uses hibiscus flowers for natural deep-red colouring.  

The Afrodite range – which includes African Aromatic, a local take on Angostura Bitters using indigenous plants – also features Buchu Bitters, a fynbos-based bitters that was “just waiting to be made”. For this, Jorgensen has used a combination of “pungent buchus”, wild rosemary, Cape May, Grain of Paradise, African ginger, Kanna, Sutherlandia and African wormwood, mixed with a dash of fynbos honey. Jorgenson recommends adding them to gin or vodka cocktails, and to make a distinctive shandy.

Jorgensen’s Distillery Afrodite Bitters sell at R80 for a 125ml bottle.    

Thread Posters by Makers of Stuff

Makers of Stuff (MOS) – Antonia Morgado, Olivia Morgado and Victoria Wilson – do exactly what it says on their label: they make STUFF (the caps are theirs), they are not just a design studio.

“Our ethos stems from the belief that design, in all its forms, should be accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality available,” says Olivia.

Irreverence and fun are equally important – exhibit A, their “Fuck Red Velvet Cake” silk-screen posters.  

Over the past two-and-a-half years, MOS’s product range has grown to include five light designs (they will be launching their ARC chandelier at FWD), furniture, crockery, and a number of posters – including delicate-looking posters made of threads and pins, minimalist typographic tapestries that have been conceived to suit any space.

“Unlike standard posters, where the colours are set by the designer, we wanted to make informal but affordable posters that could be customised in any colour, to suit your décor or personal taste,” says Antonia.

The thread posters are made by hand using natural cotton or bamboo fibres and are available in two sizes – 594mmx841mm (A1) and a smaller 500mmx500m for more graphic designs. The A1 posters sell for R1 600.

Fancy a Cuppa? by everyone
“In the future, we will all be drinking leaf-based beverages,” says Tea Edelkoort, the trend forecaster I just made up.

Bos Ice Tea has just launched its new one-litre TetraPrisma packaging – looking just as spiffy as the original cans. They will retail for a more economical R16.95 and which will be sold from their stand at FWD.

The Toni Glass Collection will also be introducing four new flavours of tea at the fair: Chocolate Hazelnut (black tea, chocolate and hazelnut); Ginger (Oolong with ginger); Exotic Plum (a caffeine-free fruit and spice infusion); and Rooibos Cranberry (rooibos, cranberry and orange). The teas are sold in packs of 20, with individual boxes containing single tea bags.

If you’re looking for a beverage with a little more exclusivitea – ha ha ha – Yswara’s Or des Anges, which launches at the fair, promises a “unique, precious and rare fusion” of Malawian peony white tea and 22-carat edible gold petals. Yswara promises each sip will deliver a “dazzling celestial choir of fulsome flavour”.  The tea retails at R1 995, so we hope they’re right.

Tales of the Sea Tees by Mingo Lamberti

Brad Hodgskiss named his company Mingo Lamberti after his grandfather. “It has a sense of heritage,” he says, but this also means that, “out of respect for him, we always have to do the best and most original work we can.”

Mingo Lamberti started out designing T-shirts – collaborative collections that have seen Hodgskiss work with 34 different illustrators so far – and have now begun to work on other products, including a sold-out range of scatter cushions inspired by antique teacups (with Pearly Yon). Designs are always produced on a limited edition basis. “We think people feel more special when they own something unique,” says Hodgskiss.

Tales of the Sea is their 10th range – Hodgskiss says he chose the theme because of the “many stories and tales that would inspire designers to create something original. The idea is to have each designer inspired by something different from the others, and which they illustrate in a different way.”

Hodgskiss says some people have referred to Mingo Lamberti as a collective. “It’s not a bad word, it’s just not us. We don’t work that way. We choose and change designers for each range, which gives us the freedom to explore different styles and ideas. It’s not like we have a map in front of us, but we do have a very clear vision of what we want Mingo Lamberti to be.”

Babygrows from Sorry I Ate Your Dog
Hellokittylujah, there are, at last, a few more local options for parents who feel caught between the rock and a hard place of having to relegate their offspring to either cute (pink! bunnies! cars!) or ironic hipster-lite (Drink Milk!).

Knysna-based Sorry I Ate Your Dog is made up of two illustrators – Logan de Jager and Laura Fotheringham, who are “currently working on a picture and activity book for children”. The prints on their product range – which includes T-shirts for adults and children, vests, babygrows, scarves and stationery – are inspired by the drawings for the book, which Fotheringham describes as “quirky designs drawn from a range of eclectic sources – from classical fairytales and mythology to Victorian technology and the African bush”.

The babygrow print features a hand-drawn illustration of a pig steering a Penny-farthing (you can probably guess which letter of the alphabet it goes with). It’s a “surreal humour” that “has appeal for children as well as adults”.  

Designs are individually screen printed onto items; Fotheringham says all their products are “proudly South African and handmade in our workshop, using locally sourced materials”.   

The printed babygrows sell for R140 (short-sleeved) and R160 (long-sleeved).

Grains of Paradise chocolate bar by Honest Chocolate

Cape Town-based artisan chocolate makers Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk have built up a loyal following for their candid candies (their chocolate is made from raw, organic cacao, no dairy, no sugar – they use Agave nectar instead), and have just launched their seventh chocolate bar, Grains of Paradise, a 72% chocolate bar that includes a touch of spicy peppers from West Africa.

“Everyone raves about the chilli chocolate,” says Michael [their other slab flavours are 72% bars with pieces of crushed cacao beans (nibs); malty Peruvian maca root; coffee beans; Kalahari Desert salt; orange; and a dark 88% chocolate bar]. “We always wanted to do something more subtle.”

The idea for the pepper bar – the pepper is related to the ginger root and grows in Ghana and Nigeria; Honest source theirs from Ghana – came after a chocolate-brandy pairing presentation with Jorgensen’s Distillery. Roger [Jorgensen] had brought along the “different stuff he uses in his gin, and one of them was this spicy African pepper, the Grain of Paradise,” explains Michael.       

For the wrapper’s artwork, Anthony and Michael worked with illustrator and artist Carmen Ziervogel to produce a tree with delicate blossoms and fiery roots. “It’s a bit of the good, and a bit of the bad,” says Michael, “the idea of paradise … but with a spiciness to it.”

In addition to its chocolate bars, Honest will also be selling its signature original and mint bon bon truffles, and jars of chocolate spread.

Trays and placemats by Skinny laMinx 
No matter how exciting your Pinterest board, it’s always more fun stumbling across hidden treasures in real life.

“I’d been working on a whole other collection,” says Skinny laMinx’s Heather Moore, “and battling to finalise it. A while ago I’d experimented with iron-on fabric designs. I’d stuck them up on my pinning board behind my computer; I saw them again and wondered if I could turn them into something. It happened really quickly – almost like they’d been waiting to be given an opportunity.”

The result is a beautiful geometrical series (something of a departure from Moore’s signature flowers and animals), and the welcome addition of several new products that take Moore’s designs off fabric and onto Perspex, plastic and paper.

“I was designing a wall installation for the bathrooms at the Table Mountain Cableway,” says Moore, “where I did screen prints onto massive panels of Perspex. I asked the sign-making company what other kinds of things they did – they bought me samples of placemats from steakhouses.”

Moore was underwhelmed by the steakhouse designs but thought it “would be really nice to do placemats in one of my new prints – to break out a little. It’s always exciting to find things that are locally made.”

In addition to placemats, Moore is also launching a series of oblong and circular trays – also made locally, by a company in Johannesburg.

“It’s not a case of wanting to do something new – I’d love to make lots of things, but I can’t always make them here,” she explains. “It’s important to know there’s production capacity out there.”

Shoppers at FWD can also stock up on postcards, gift bags and wrapping paper printed in Moore’s designs, together with her best-selling cushion covers, tea towels and table runners.

Skinny laMinx placemats are R80 each; trays are R295 each.

Sugar skull ring by Sirkel

Jan Bekker’s jewellery designs are mostly “inspired by crystal structures”, taking inspiration from architecture and natural forms – stones are cut specially for each piece, and Bekker favours the dark facets of onyx and haematite.  

The limited edition sugar skull ring (only 10 will be made) shows off Bekker’s equal skill with organic forms, and his self-taught engraving ability.

“The design is based on the Mexican sugar skulls used for the Day of the Dead celebrations; those are very decorative. I made it more anatomically correct, in terms of the actual structure of the skull.”

The design for the ring is first shaped with carving wax – this is all done by hand; Bekker says it took him “ages to figure out how to carve the teeth properly” – and then a mold is created using lost wax casting (the wax gets cast in a mold and then heated; the wax disappears, leaving a negative mold of the design). Bekker then does individual engraving on each ring that is cast – first drawing the design onto the silver in pencil and spraying it with clear lacquer.

The flowers that make up the eye sockets are produced separately, traced out of “tiny round plates” with little 18k yellow gold balls soldered into the middle, then soldered into the ring and punched and chased into the skull so that the petals “flow over the edges of the eye socket.”

The finished product is oxidised using liver of sulphur – which turns all the silver pitch black – and then brushed or polished to reveal the highlights.

The sugar skull ring retails from R4500.

Special Fair Fare
Look out for these new releases and special offers at the various food and wine stalls:

• Glen Carlou will be launching its 2012 Unwooded Chardonnay (made in specially formulated cement tanks imported from France; R78 a bottle).

• De Rustica Olive Estate will be promoting its new Private Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil, available in 1.2l canisters.

• Pesto Princess has special offer on a “Treat Box” of four pesto sauces, which will sell for R110 (a saving of R45).

• Bartinney will be showcasing its 2011 Sauvignon Blanc at the fair – the wine has just been released (it should reach good bottle stores round the time the fair opens), and received 4 ½ stars from John Platter.

• Morgenster will be doing tastings of its limited release Italian Collection wines (which went on sale last month), and will also host olive tastings.

The Sanlam Investments FoodWineDesign Fair takes place on the rooftop of Hyde Park Corner, from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 November. The fair is open from 12pm to 10pm on Friday, 10am to 10pm on Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. Entrance is R80.


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Nechama Brodie
Nechama Brodie works from Johannesburg . journalist. writer of books & singer of songs. black belt. feminist. PhD candidate looking at data, media, & violence. inaction is a weapon of mass destruction Nechama Brodie has over 11598 followers on Twitter.

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