Textile designer Lauren Frates may describe herself as a “Scandi junkie”, but she doesn’t veer far from her South African roots. “Being South African, it’s inevitable that Africa will creep into my designs, usually as an interpretation of my immediate surroundings,” she explains.
Frates started her company, iSpy, almost by accident when she and her husband left the bright city lights of Joburg for a quieter life in the small seaside town of Knysna, on the idyllic Garden Route. It’s a spectacular part of the country with no shortage of natural beauty to feed creative inspiration.
Frates designs and screenprints the textiles by hand herself. Helping her with manufacturing are women from a job-creation community project called Women of Vision based in a nearby township. “I’m all about getting back to basics through handprinted products produced by the local community,” says Frates, who is passionate about creating employment and utilising local skills.