As a part of our coverage this year, Wanted has taken a dive into the studios, and minds, of Decorex and SA’s premier designers. In discussion with these creators, we asked for designs of their own that continue to inspire them. “I always like to note that design is at all times a collaborative enterprise — to-and-fro between designer, artisan, local service industry and peers involved in the process from conception to fabrication. Design objects, never materialise in a vacuum,” says Anthony Whitaker of hoop.
Whitaker’s favourite designs for hoop are still to come, however, and, in no particular order, these are his favourites, signalling an aspiration beginning for hoop.
The Basis Table is designed to reflect simple, modest form that follows from its pragmatic construction. The aprons, fixed to the legs at 45 degrees to the top, make material usage more efficient by avoiding the need for long rails on all sides of the table. An added benefit is a slight gain in leg room when seated, a bonus for any tall person. It’s not a loud object, it does its work quietly, but effectively.
The Basis Coffee table realises the ideals of everyday design. Which is where user experience is present in equal measure to aesthetic quality. Its cross lap construction means that the assembly process is reduced to mere minutes, and it is as intuitive as it is joyful. These two considerations come together to create good, usable objects — which is all we need at the end of the day.
The Contour Shelf is a timeless and practical take on the ‘floating’ shelf. Instead of the typical floating shelf, which uses a hidden steel subframe, the shelf slab is mounted on a narrow, vertical oak panel and supported by two discreet hanger bolts with an Allen head for ease of fastening. This means that the design is expressed honestly in its materiality and form, there’s no hidden steel wrapped in a timber sheath.
Whitaker says that “all of hoop’s furniture is flat-pack. In the South African context, this would usually bring to mind plywood, CNC’d and, more often than not, lacking the presence and character that solid wood furniture brings to any space. We are different. Our furniture is made entirely from solid wood — oak and ash. Oak is used for its strength and durability, as well as its timeless and warm qualities. Ash, known for its creamy white colour and sometimes overlooked as being a touch harder than oak, is used for its strong mechanical properties, modest character and economical value.”
Designs that continue to inspire Anthony Whitaker
Chaise Tout Bois by Jean Prouvé
“Chaise Tout Bois by French engineer/designer Jean Prouvé during WW2 is the first to come to mind. The chair is a reworking of an earlier design by Prouvé, the Standard chair no. 305, where due to a steel shortage during the war the chair’s construction was adapted to be manufactured entirely out of wood — hence ‘Tout Bois’. The chair, like many of the structures Prouvé designed, was demountable. Its structural design is typical of Prouvé’s approach to design, even that of structures (four), where the differing profiles of the hind versus front legs correspond to the different load exerted on the chair when a person is seated. Efficiency in structure, and therefore material, as a direct result of ‘form following function’. The chair was reimagined a couple times over by Prouvé, first a flat-pack version in wood with metal fixing details, and the last the most recognisable version (the Standard chair, which actually features in one of our table shoots) with a metal frame and pressed ply seat and back. Need to stop myself here, I could be here all day with Prouvé in the mix!”
Cecilie Manz — Workshop Chair
“When thinking about designers in action today, Cecilie Manz springs to mind. Though it’s difficult to choose one of her designs, Manz’s Workshop range, starting with the Workshop Chair. The design represents a formal quality that is pared down right down to its core, as if designing by Dieter Rams’ own 10 principles — unobtrusive and not burdened with non-essentials. However, in keeping with the Danish tradition, Manz filters these ideals through layers of personality and presence.”
Pedersen + Lennard — Osaka Range
Now that I’ve made it obvious that I have a soft spot for chairs, I should offer a little variety. And I can’t keep babbling on about inspiration without talking local! And you can’t talk local design without talking Pedersen + Lennard — to me they’re local legends. Their collection is expansive as it is impressive, but immediately the recent Osaka range comes to mind. For me, the range somehow perfectly walks the tight rope between bold and delicate, striking this balance without any bother. It does this while also retaining an overall sense of playfulness. Their hosepipe holder is something I have to just drop in here — what a cool, functional object. Who knew a hosepipe reel could look so good!