In their second collaboration of late (see yesterday's story about another joint design), Katy Taplin and Adriaan Hugo of Dokter and Misses have teamed up with South Africa's foremost textile designer, Ronel Jordaan, to create a range of seating. The new Veld couch and Pebble stool bring together the hand-felted stone shapes that Jordaan is known for and Dokter and Misses' geometric metalwork. The combination of soft, organic forms plus graphic patterned latticework is testimony that the best of both can result in something completely original. The recently launched furniture is specially treated for both indoor and outdoor use, and can be customised for a wealth of colour and graphic variations.
We got the lowdown from the designers about the experience of working together.
How did the collaboration come about?
RJ: We are members of Design Network Africa (DNA) and through meeting one another at DNA-sponsored workshops we talked about collaborating. Dokter and Misses designed this beautiful couch and asked us to do the seating for it.
What quality in the other partner's work appealed to you?
RJ: I love the contemporary style of their work. Their designs are also quirky, functional and original. They produce exceptional quality designs and are one of the best South African and international design teams.
DAM: The soft nature of her work appealed to us. It is in contrast with what we do, which was very appealing. She has a unique way of working with wool, making felt look like marble or pebbles. It was just waiting to become a couch. Ronel is an expert in her field and has super-high standards. This is always important when collaborating.
How did you go about designing the collaborative pieces?
RJ: Dokter and Misses designed the couch and then brought it to us to work from. We were in agreement to use our rock design as decoration. We have a special treatment to protect wool fabrics when used for outdoors, so we decided to use our felting technique to shape the cushions as solid units.
DAM: We've always wanted to do soft furniture. So when Wyatt Hairdressers & Barbering [a fellow tenant at 44 Stanley in Johannesburg] needed a couch for their new salon, we jumped at the opportunity to do it. We came up with the concept and initial design. It's based on the idea of putting rocks in a cage – like a gabion. The framework took inspiration from the super-ornate burglar bars on the buildings in Maputo. Burglar bars are something we know all too well – they have become part of the Southern African urban vernacular. Once we had a direction, we started bouncing ideas around with Ronel. Having an idea at least gave us a path to wonder off from. We worked together to make the couch outdoor-friendly. And Ronel worked super-hard to make the cushions fit and the couch comfortable. The end result is a product that shows the best of both of us.
What did you learn from the collaboration?
RJ: You have to trust one another and understand that design and production have their own separate challenges.