Container power

Cape Town-based Cécile & Boyd might be renowned and awarded for their high-end lodges and hotels but it is their Foundation project that is the real winner.

Interior design consultants Cécile & Boyd are the creatives behind the luxurious interiors and décor of high-end lodges and hotels such as the Singita group, the Tswalu Kalahari Lodge and Hout Bay Manor in Cape Town.

For this work that spans over 25 years, they recently became the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Pineapple Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Hotel Design” from Condé Nast’s House & Garden UK.

While this is a big honour, it is the more humble work that they do through their Foundation project, a recognised project of World Design Capital 2014, that might prove to be their true legacy. 

The Cécile & Boyd Foundation is involved in creating inspiring spaces for disadvantaged children in either containers or classrooms.

“We believe in the transformative power of a beautiful space, as seen in our high-end hotel and residential work, and we hope that this will help to inspire the design community, educational organisations and parents to think about the power of creative spaces,” says Boyd Ferguson. 

Every year they take on six to eight projects where they renovate containers, existing rooms such as, libraries and classrooms, as well as outside play areas. They work with established projects, such as the Amy Bhiel Foundation, and take the needs of that particular school or organisation into account. Of fundamental importance is that the spaces are utilised to inspire creativity and are managed in a sustainable way for future use.

For their World Design Capital 2014 project they, along with several collaborators, created a travelling container exhibition intended to showcase this “transformative power” of colour, texture and pattern in creating simple spaces that can be used to inspire and educate children. 

The colour palette is soft yet bold and graphically represents the earth, horizon and sky. Magnetic stripes across the back wall allow geometric shapes to be arranged by the children in different patterns.

The space is furnished with simple plastic chairs that are low-cost and readily available. The chairs are slip covered in felt with over-sized stitching to emphasise softness. A fun reading chair is an amorphous blob – almost animal, almost plant, almost chair. The tables by Pedersen + Lennard are made of birch plywood.

Inspired by nature the "tree forest" made by Farmacy from alien vegetation creates a fun and functional area for hanging up school bags or jackets. Moonbaskets’ crocheted rug is a nice and friendly tactile experience for barefoot children. 

Currently the container is situated on at the Prestwich Memorial on the Fan Walk, Cape Town until 16 April thereafter it will move to the V&A Waterfront Clock Tower from 17 to 29 April and then onto Langa.

“We chose the container space for this exhibition as it is easy to move, secure and intended as an exhibition space. We are also collaborating with Rock Girl who will use the container at public events as part of their 'If you knew me' project for radio interviews,” explains Ferguson. 

And beyond 2014?

“We might donate it to one of the organisation we work with or it might continue to travel, possibly even around South Africa, to inspire even more communities.”