SA design lights up the White House

Two chandeliers by the Karoo-based Magpie Collective have been selected for the Obamas' private residence.

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La Riche Ella by the Magpie Collective

In a real rags-to-riches tale, plastic bottle tops and other discarded items have been transformed into magnificent chandeliers that are lighting up the private residence of Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House.

The chandeliers were made by the Magpie Collective, an arts collective based in the small Klein Karoo town of Barrydale. They were selected by Michael Smith, a celebrity Los Angeles-based decorator, who has been hired by the Obamas to redo their quarters.

“We are very proud, very honoured and extremely excited at this,” said social entrepreneur Shane Petzer, who makes up the collective together with designer Scott Hart, artist Sean Daniel and administrator Richard Panaino.

These chandeliers, one named the Princess and the other La Riche Ella, are both six-armed, Regency-inspired creations. Both have been produced from an assortment of recycled plastic trinkets and coloured plastic bottle lids, interwoven with glass beads and crystal drops, and illuminated by candles.

Smith has designed the homes of household names such as film director Steven Spielberg, actors Dustin Hoffman and Michelle Pfeiffer, model Cindy Crawford, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, according to NBC News.
“The family’s casual style, their interest in bringing 20th-century American artists to the forefront and utilising affordable brands and products will serve as our guiding principles as we make the residence feel like their home,” he said on his appointment to the White House.
Trevyn McGowan, director of Source, said: “It is a true recognition of the extraordinary beauty and relevance of Magpie’s work that two of their pieces have been selected for the home of one of the most forward-thinking and inspirational men in the world.”

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