The Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair took place on the rooftop of Hyde Park this past weekend. This year the theme for the event was ‘Well Made in Africa’ and this was brought to life by the featured designer, Chu Suwannapha who created the vibrant look and feel for the fair. Drawing inspiration from legendary photographers Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta, Chu’s signature bold print and bright colour aesthetic provided the backdrop to this year’s fair. The theme was continued in the curation of traders with an interesting mix of luxe and bespoke designers from other African countries peppering the mix of local designers. Here are the 13 products that caught our eye this year.
1. Blandat is a textile design studio founded by Dutch designer Debby van der Veer. With a nod to traditional African textiles, her range features bright colours with geometric pattern and contemporary floral prints. We fell in love with her new shirt dresses and kimonos.
2. The new Pichulik spring/summer range is a delight of old-meets-new. Characterised by organic materials like jade, shell, horn and hemp, the range references central Indian ceremonial jewels and Middle Eastern ornamentation. Inspired by the desert tones of Marrakesh, each piece evokes the spirit of journey, discovery and exchange.
3. The stand for Durban-based interior design studio Douglas and Douglas was delightfully sumptuous and verdure. These playful organic ceramic forms by Kim Longhurst caught our eye, as did the freestanding shelving unite they were displayed on.
4. Douglas & Company is a Cape Town based architecture and design studio specialising in the design and production of contemporary buildings, spaces and interior products including furniture, lighting and objects. We’ve loved their playful McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon drinks trolly ever since it rolled onto the scene, and this new ‘grownup’ black marble and gold colourway is no exception.
5. It was wonderful to see Paris-Abidjan luxe menswear brand Laurence Airline in person. The brand is characterised by high quality tailoring and interesting details that makes each shirt feel completely unique.
6. A great new collaboration to see was between leatherwear brand Ilundi and Mia Mélange that resulted in a perfect meeting of style and material for a collection of leather and cord handbags. Simple, elegant details embellished functional everyday designs.
7. We’ve been watching the evolution of Nkuli Mlangeni aka The Ninevites‘ new project on social media for some time. It was therefore great to see the product of her labours at the fair with the launch of her new handwoven all-natural rug collection. Created in collaboration with a weavers in many different countries, the rugs are decadently thick and feature striking contemporary designs.
8. Another fun collaboration at the fair was between Ash Ceramics and Fabrica Creative Consultancy for the Apotments range of planters. Reminiscent of daddy-longlegs spiders, the spindly stands and contemporary print pots make a simple but striking feature statement.
9. Halsted is a luxury lifestyle brand that produces textiles inspired by the motifs and designs from sister brand Ardmore Ceramics. Inherently playful and bright, each design tells a story and draws from African folklore.
10. An interesting activation/collaboration at the fair this year was between Assemblage and Lamy pens comprising ink drawings by the Assemblage artists. Priced affordably, the artworks encompassed a wide range of styles and subject matter, and offered an opportunity for people to take home a small piece of contemporary art.
11. The shweshwe pith helmets by Ledikana were a fun addition to the hat offering at this year’s fair. Ledikana is a proudly South African fashion and accessories brand that manufactures handmade and culturally inspired products.
12. These gold, turquoise and plastic raffia earrings by Henrietta Botha caught our eye for their unusual mix of luxe and low-brow materials. Simple yet striking, these drop tassel earrings will make a statement with any look.
13. Cape Town fashion label Selfi brought all kinds of sartorial goodness to the fair with a new range of linen and bull denim jumpsuits and maxi pinafores. In sharp contrast to previous colour-block prints, this monochromatic range is all about volume and understated details.