In 2007 industrial designer Adriaan Hugo and graphic designer Katy Taplin combined their skills to form Dokter and Misses. The husband and wife duo design and produce a selection of furniture, lighting and objects.
Despite their varied style, you can usually tell a Dokter and Misses piece when you see one. Bold modernist lines and graphic patterns are two indicators, and there is undoubtedly a sense of humour in their work. While functionality is at the core of each piece, Katy and Adriaan still manage to put their own, very distinct, twist on things.
Dokter and Misses started out with their branch at 44 Stanley Avenue, which now functions as a retail space for smaller items. In 2008, they opened CO-OP in collaboration with Whatiftheworld Gallery as a showcase for local art and design. Located in Braamfontein, this space has since become the dedicated Dokter and Misses showroom, studio and workshop.
Tell us about your spaces in terms of where they’re situated. What drew you to 44 Stanley and Braamfontein?
When we started Dokter and and Misses we needed a space to launch the brand. 44 Stanley was a great for us to start out, it’s a mix of owner-run shops where people can make their own rules and and grow organically. It was a great place to start and grow organically as we extended our range. It was also perfectly located since we live in Brixton and ran manufacture out of our home studio.
The move to Braamfontein happened out of the need for a combination of workshop and a bigger showroom space. We opened CO-OP together with Whatiftheworld, it functioned as an art gallery, furniture showroom and workshop. It’s not easy to find a place that is accessible to the public and can accommodate light industrial manufacture. Again it appealed to us since it was close to home and to our suppliers.
Opening your first space in 44 Stanley followed by the Braamfontein showroom, was there any specific criteria that the physical space, as well as the environment around it, had to fulfil?
The biggest appeal about both spaces is that they are blank canvases. We’re not big on interior decoration and prefer the our pieces to be the focus. I like the greenery at 44 Stanley, it’s like a tucked away anti-mall. Juta street started off super-quiet and has now turned into a buzzing hive of development.
What do you want people to feel when they walk into one of your spaces? What impression do you hope they will leave with?
Just enjoy the product.
Since your collaboration with Whatiftheworld came to an end and CO-OP became the dedicated Dokter and Misses showroom, what has changed?
We first started off manufacturing at the back of the showroom, over the years we expanded manufacture into the downstairs basement. Each year we’ve needed more and more space. Finally it feels like we may have a big enough space to showcase our work.
What do you love most about being situated in the city? Have you experienced any drawbacks to this?
The development in the city is double edged sword really. On one hand its really great to see all the businesses popping up, being able to get decent food in the area, the buzzing market over the weekend, after work drinks at Kitcheners. We also get to be part of the area’s development, for instance the custom balustrade and signage for the Neighbourgoods Marget, or Wyatt Hairdressing’s new salon.
On the other hand it’s becoming more of a challenge to run manufacture out of our workshop. Access is difficult, we’re running out of space and rent is going up.
Would you say that the environment around you influences your designs or your approach? In what ways?
We are often trigger by a need in your immediate environment (home/office) and that usually leads to new designs. Alternatively a client comes to us with an interesting brief that begins something.
What are some of the other things that you would cite as influences?
Travel, new materials and production methods.
Give us some insight regarding your process and take us through the various stages of what this could entail.
We don’t really have a process, there are always ideas floating around it’s a matter of getting them into the prototyping phase. This happens alongside regular production.
How would you describe your products to someone who’s never seen them?
We strive to be unique, our style can be all over the place. It’s tricky to describe but I would say that the work has a strong graphic quality. I’d also like to think that even though we work really hard to create unique, high quality pieces, that there is also an element of humour and humanity somewhere inside it.
What are the materials you most enjoy working with, and why?
Surface detail and pattern – it’s just something that appeals to us right now, no real reason.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of what you do? Alternately, what’s the biggest challenge?
Seeing new prototypes and finished products popping up all over our workshop. Biggest challenge: running out of space.
Since you began Dokter and Misses there’s been a lot of growth in product design industry in SA. What are your thoughts around this?
Yes there has been, both good and bad. Seeing new work by other people excites us and at the same time keeps us on our toes. Seeing re-hashed products is depressing.
Looking forward, what’s in store for Dokter and Misses?
More product… We understand a little more what we do. We can now use this knowledge as our torch to explore dark caves.
As well as being their showroom for larger furniture items and lighting pieces, the space in Braamfontein also functions as the Dokter and Misses studio and workshop.
A behind the scenes look at the Dokter and Misses workshop, situated in the basement of their Braamfontein showroom.
44 Stanley Store
The 44 Stanley branch carries small products and accessories like ceramics and storage, with an outdoor section featuring Joe Paine.