Textile takeover: six SA design brands weaving their way around the world
From mohair plant pots to luxe throws, these fresh local soft furnishing ranges are catching the eyes of international buyers
NEXT21, an export-development initiative of the Craft and Design Institute (CDI), is a platform allowing buyers from around the globe to access products designed and made in SA. Among these are some of the freshest contemporary textile applications we've seen in a while.
Says CDI market development programme manager Fran Stewart: "The last year allowed businesses the time to really think about their products and develop exciting new ranges. We've seen new techniques coming through, and more experimentation with weaves, colours and styles.
"Designers are looking less towards international trends and more towards local influences, which means that the products, which are of excellent quality, are becoming visually more unique and desirable to international buyers."
Bedspreads, throws, cushion covers and table linen make up the new collection by Cape Town's African Jacquard, inspired by the precious metals, patterns and animals of Africa.
"Since ancient times, precious metals have been used as decoration and embellishment in the textiles of kings and queens," explains founder and creative director Christine Daron, "and the symbolism behind our colours is certainly intended: silver representing clarity and self-reflection; copper symbolising charisma and artistic creativity; and gold as the emblem of prosperity."
Simple, yet classic and timeless, Aymara's natural throws include beautiful hand-dyed elements in navy and charcoal, and generous fringes that enhance their luxurious appeal.
"They're soft, light and wonderfully warm," says co-owner Linda Nessworthy of the handcrafted products made from pure baby alpaca fibre. The yarn is spun at Quenti Alpaca & Mill near Wellington, on the same farm where the animals are raised, making the entire process hyper-local.
Cotton Tree's new punch-needle range includes three contemporary-style Zulu designs in charcoal and natural colours. This old embroidery technique — all done by hand — allows gorgeous textural loops to be created with cotton thread.
"A lot of my work has a South African element to it," says Joburg-based owner Cindy Roseveare. "The designs and patterns from our diverse cultures are really beautiful to work with and are sought after by customers abroad."
Two new ranges have been introduced by Chic Fusion founder and designer Razaan Jakoet: curly mohair Xibelani calabash-shaped baskets and plant pots, as well as leaf throws and cushions, hand-felted with merino wool that is dyed in special colours mixed in the studio.
"The Xibelani Range was inspired by the tinguvu (skirts) worn by the Tsonga women during the lively, movement-filled Xibelani dance," Jakoet explains, "while the Leaf Range references autumn's colours."
Alan Glasser, partner at Amelia Jackson Industries, a weavery situated in Ottery, Cape Town, says: "Our new range is aimed at texture. We have gone for thick and chunky, as we're wanting to create comfort for the home while we're trapped inside during this pandemic."
The bath mats, bedside rugs and larger floor coverings for the home are almost predominantly made from 100% cotton, with twills and diamond patterns adding texture to the natural hues.
BARRYDALE HAND WEAVERS
Barrydale Hand Weavers, on Route 62, has introduced new line patterns to its much-loved tea towels, blankets and throws.
"Our designs are subtle and relatively simple, due to our plain-weaving process," says MD Arran Bastable, "but we aim to achieve the same quality and precision in our hand-woven products that modern technology can."
Woven almost exclusively from cotton, on old floor looms, the varying widths and textures of the lines in the products show off the inherent beauty of the natural fibre.