20Q: Eve Collett

Inspired by a variety of daily events, spiritual experiences and nature, Eve Collett's creativity manifests in gorgeous furniture designs.
Posted 24 Aug 10 By Design Indaba Product Design Interviews / Q&A Comments

Eve Collett is passionate about South African design. In fact, her belief in it is so strong that her showroom, Casamento, is a platform exclusively for local creativity. Collett has been a photographer and chef but in 2006 she changed direction and started Casamento furniture design.

1. What inspires your design? My designs are inspired by my current state of being, my emotions as well as my spiritual interpretation of daily events. Nature is my biggest source of ideas, that is why I am so obsessed with natural fibers. I am in love with trees. The South African artists from the 1950s such as Pierneef are also a great inspiration.

2. What is your most treasured possession? My most treasured possession is my Pentax K1000 film camera.

3. What is your happiest childhood memory? I had an idyllic childhood in a small mountain village... So there are many amazing memories... Endless summers skinny dipping in the river, sunning ourselves on the smooth warm rocks, listening to the endless chatter and gurgle of the river and birds... The sounds and smells all blending into an amazing feeling of peace and tranquility.

4. If not design, what would you do? A gardener at Kirstenbosch.

5. What does “sustainability” mean to you? Being able to produce something longterm, and in quantity, without creating a negative effect on our environment. Sustainability requires designers to be conscious and knowledgeable about the manufacturing process.

6. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Our economic system that is so reliant on "growth" at the expense of everything else.

7. What is something you know you do differently to most people? I don't do Facebook.

8. What’s the best piece of design advice you’ve ever received? To use the Golden Ratio as a guide to achieve visual harmony.

9. What inspires your work? Same as 1?

10.  What’s your worst habit? The snooze button on my alarm.

11. Are you passionate about South African design? Yes. Our showroom is a platform for all the amazing ideas that are flourishing in South Africa at the moment. I am also starting to really appreciate the design that has been around for decades, and simply overlooked or labelled "touristy" such as Ndbele beadwork and Afrikaans needlework. South African design hasn't just popped up out of nowhere. It has a rich history. Furniture and architecture in South Africa had a golden era in the 1950s, often overlooked because of politics. African design has also too often been written off as tourist trinkets. We are finally beginning to embrace and develop our own South African character as designers. I see a unique lack of pretension as our hallmark, and hope it stays this way!

12. Who in the world, dead or alive, would you most like to have a drink with? Writer Russell Banks.

13. What has been your favourite project to date? Hmmm... I'm too much of a perfectionsist. My favourite project is still in my head.

14. Do you have (m)any unrealised projects? Of course. I have an exhibition of 12 pieces going on in my head.

15. Can design change the world? If we keep on designing things that just look good, but destroy the environment during manufacture, of course we are changing the world. But I think its more the world that changes design.... Our needs as a society dictate how we design things, more than anything else.

16. What’s your favourite gadget? I only really have one, the very irritating iPhone that I can't live without.

17. What’s your theme song?  "Mood Indigo" by Nina Simone.

18. What’s the best piece of design you’ve seen recently? I love Porky Hefer's Plug On light. It's in our showroom.

19. What do you do on Sundays? On Sundays I work hard at the art of doing absolutely nothing... My two children are great teachers!

20. How would you define creative success? A deep sense of satisfaction and completion, a feeling of being able to move on. Creative expression is an exorcism.

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