A hearty tribute to DIY, recycling and mohair

The January cover of the bi-monthly has been designed to resemble an embroidery pattern. Readers have been supplied with a small skein of mohair yarn (courtesy of the trade organisation Mohair SA) with which to cross-stitch a heart shape at the centre of the slogan “I heart DIY”.

The point of the design is to highlight the theme of the magazine’s issue number 64: “DIY deluxe”.

In addition to the mohair sample, readers are invited to dash down to their local haberdashery for thick needles and wool. With this, they can decorate their Visi cover in any colours and enter a competition sponsored by — you guessed it — Mohair SA. Various products are being given away to creative readers who have the time to embroider their magazine covers nicely. In this way Mohair SA hopes to use Visi to inform readers that South Africa produces half the world’s supply of the luxurious fibre made from the wool of the angora goat.

Otherwise, the edition showcases some wacky recycle concepts, not all in such good taste: a mammoth religious cross constructed of lit-up milk crates for a makeshift church; a decorative Parisian wall display of nearly 50 vintage toasters; an old fridge used as a television stand and a stack of worn-out rubber tyres used as a dog’s bed or an oversized ice bucket.

The major chapter heading of the edition is produced by graphic artist Lauren Fowler, in the style of the cover. It’s a round embroidery hoop containing the words “32 reasons to always love smart ideas”. Again, the word love is symbolised by a red heart.

Each of the 32 reasons showcases the talents of a designer, their philosophy or a masterful creation summarising their oeuvre. Number four is the work of Fowler whose blog (lost­isaplacetoo.blogspot.com) reminds us how the old Afrikaner homestead is joining the craze for all things Quaker and Amish.

In a short interview, Fowler tells us that the beauty of current South African design is that “everything looks finessed, not mass-produced. Our products feel crafted”.

In tone, the magazine’s design evokes nostalgia for granny’s lounge and combines veteran designer Milton Glaser’s nifty, groundbreaking promotion of his city, New York, with the slogan “I heart NY”.

In this way Visi has, appropriately, made something new out of concepts that are old. And that, after all, is what recycling is all about.


Matthew Krouse

Matthew Krouse

Matthew Krouse is the arts editor of the Mail & Guardian, a position he has held since 1999. He has edited two anthologies: Positions (Steidl, Jacana Media 2010) about artists engaging with politics in South Africa today, and The Invisible Ghetto (GMP, 1994) a compilation of creative writing about gender. His essays have appeared in collected works about arts and culture here and abroad. He has worked in the theatre for over a decade as an actor, writer and senior publicist at the Market Theatre. Read more from Matthew Krouse

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