Bofred is a new artistic collective founded and run by Christa Botha and Carla Erasmus. Started earlier this year, they source mid-century modern interior items and furniture that have been designed and manufactured in South Africa, which they then restore to one of a kind art pieces. They’ve also just started designing their own range of furniture. This is definitely not a production line kind of operation and they work closely with other local craftsman to restore and create each piece by hand. This collective is built on a mutual appreciation for beautiful things, which is translated into the workmanship and care that goes into every Bofred piece. Christa and Carla think of Bofred as “an ever-evolving space” and this is only just the start. We paid a visit to their studio to chat to them about their journey so far and to find out what they have up their sleeves.
What inspired you to start Bofred?
We met in Cape Town (Carla is from Durban and Christa from New-Zealand) and made friends instantly based on our shared love for dogs. We both studied Fine Arts and wanted another creative outlet in design. We also share a very similar taste in interiors and have the same design philosophy. Why not start a business based on that?
How did you decide on the name and what does it reveal about the philosophy behind Bofred?
We wanted a strong family-style name, and then decided to create our own name by combining one of our surnames (Botha) and the other’s middle name (Frederika).
Describe your aesthetic and tell us what it’s influenced by.
Bofred is an eclectic mix of vibrant colours, rich textures and artistic one of a kind furniture items. We curate and design each piece according to our own creative style. We are mostly influenced by current design trends, our travels, the everyday and art.
Take us through a day at Bofred.
A cup of coffee in Vredehoek. Sourcing new stock. Calls to suppliers and driving around for quotes and getting stuff done. We drive and phone a lot, hands-free of course. There’s also lots of admin, admin, admin. Every day is different, but we always work fast-paced and long hours. We update stock quite regularly so we are constantly planning photo shoots, new lookbooks and our next move.
Where do you find the pieces and what determines whether you buy it?
We worked long and hard for our little black book, our best-kept secret! It’s a gut feeling and we both have a little ‘happy dance’ that comes naturally when we’ve found a perfect sideboard, chair or table. We do follow a style of mid-century influence, but nothing is set in stone. It’s all about our shared vision of what the final product is going to look and feel like.
How do you go about restoring each item you source?
The process of each item starts with sourcing, then collecting from wherever. We plan the outcome of the item, regarding detailing, replacement elements, we choose the fabric, we put all the admin in place and then we can start the physical work. With the help of our fantastic woodcrafter, we start the restoration process. He sits with us for days, sanding down the pieces to their former beauty. We are both very hands-on during the restoration process. From finding the perfect detailing to replacing springs. The items all get a complete makeover. We also started with our own line of furniture which we’ve designed. We do all the work regarding this, apart from the physical labour which we outsource to a highly skilled carpenter.
Tell us about your Shop for a Cause initiative.
Bofred is passionate about creating a community of crafters who support and empower one another. By collaborating with organisations like Sisters 4 Sisters, our goal is to establish a creative environment where ideas and skills can be shared and exchanged. All the items created in collaboration with these skilled crafters are available through our Shop for a Cause initiative, with a percentage of all proceeds being allocated to help support the social and economic development of all the crafters involved. We are currently creating leather necklaces and wool wall hangings through the organization. This is just the start of many more products to be designed in the near future.
Sisters 4 Sisters x Bofred hand-made leather necklaces for ‘Shop for a cause’:
What have been some of the trials and triumphs since starting Bofred earlier this year? How do you stay motivated?
We once bought an 8-seater dining room set that was hilariously distasteful, by mistake! That moment when you are standing in a very overcrowded auction house, swaying your hand about to “shoo-the-fly” and then you buy a very expensive piece! There is no such thing as an innocent mistake at an auction, I can tell you that much. Luckily there is such a thing as Gumtree, and someone with different taste who then bought it from us.
We stay motivated by having fun in the workplace. We crack jokes while filling our SARS forms. Keep it light. Don’t take it too seriously. Work hard and create precision products.
What do you love most about what you do?
We get to play with textures and colours. We are our own boss and make creative decisions based on what we love and what we would want to buy for ourselves. We are basically designing a shop for ourselves, and so far our clients love it too. We enjoy getting our hands dirty and putting hours and effort into each piece. Delivering to clients that gasp when they unveil their latest purchase. We really do look at the small details and focus on the bigger picture at the same time.
Tell us about your plans for the near future?
Our relationship with Sister4Sister is expanding and will hopefully create more jobs for more people to craft products for us. We’d like to become a familiar design name soon.