Women in design: Five questions with three interior designers from Emerging Creatives 2017

A QnA with three female interior designers about their designs and the industry.

Part of the Project

From the Series

The 2017 Emerging Creatives are a promising bunch. We spoke to three female interior designers in the list about their designs and their thoughts on the industry. Ashlee Ainsley Lloyd makes beautiful lighting solutions. Despite a background in the mining industry, Mpho Vackier now offers a sophisticated and modern take on African inspired furniture, and Carien Momsen navigates dual concepts in her furniture design.

How would you describe your designs in three words?

Ashlee: Tactile, textured and illuminating.

Mpho: Contemporary, minimal and African.

Carien: Contemporary, creative and simplicity.

What inspires your designs?

Ashlee: Inspiration comes mainly from the outcome of my prototyping. I love to experiment with textures, whether natural or synthetic, and try to mix the various materials together. Once I find something I am happy with I try to apply it to where I think something like that would work. It’s the surprise of a sporadic process.

Mpho: I am inspired by ethnic cultural graphics and motifs as well as classical Mid-century furniture silhouettes. I love the visual tension created by contrasting elements, materials and ideas and the result thereof. I am also inspired by patterns in everything and I love translating those patterns into functional 3-D products.

Carien: My African roots and my love for Nordic design principles have definitely motivated my pursuit of beauty through design. My design philosophy has been driven by a duality of elements: functional with a minimalistic aesthetic, modern with a natural quality and always beautifully creative.

What is the best thing about being an interior designer in South Africa at the moment?

Ashlee: I’m actually an industrial designer by qualification, but I see myself developing a passion for interior spaces through my recent lighting collection and installations. The best thing is that there are so many opportunities in South Africa at the moment and it’s a rather exciting time to be a designer of any sort. There is so much inspiration, guidance and opportunity flowing around South Africa – you must just try to get involved as much as possible.

Mpho: I love the cultural meets modern trends as well as the urban influences and amazing inherent energy behind local design. I also find that most of my clients are excited to try out locally designed and manufactured products and furniture, which results in authentic, original design solutions and spaces.

Carien: It is so exciting being a part of the electric creative current that has been building up over the last couple of years. With our designer feet firmly rooted in our South African heritage, we’ve been inspired by the international design world. However, we are also inspiring the global scene with our bold authentic approach towards creating objects and shaping spatial experiences.

What direction do you think South African interior design is taking right now?

Ashlee: South African interior/industrial design is placing foot in the direction of opportunity, of recognition from other continents, and a chance to be able to work with other designers nationally and internationally. Recently, some of the biggest furniture companies in the world are willing to collaborate with South African designers, which is exhilarating, to say the least.

Mpho: I love the stories and energy behind locally designed products. There is vibrancy and authenticity in the way that South African designers approach the creative process. There is also a culture of community wherein designers come together and feed off of each other’s energy that results in sophisticated and original products that have a unique global appeal.

Carien: Over the last few years we’ve seen design trends where a lot of different styles are merged into an eclectic whole. I believe we’re moving towards a period where less will become more again and the pursuit of simplicity will guide our design decisions.

What do you think sets your designs and products apart?

Ashlee: My designs blend an industrial manufacturing process (metal spinning, woodwork, welding or casting) and an additional well-thought out handcrafted process to create something that can represent diversity, contrast between materials and processes, and more importantly, spontaneity.

Mpho: We love to think our furniture as a celebration of culture and classic design. Our introductory range is inspired by cultural Ndebele lines and forms, which are especially inspired by the artistic works of Esther Mahlangu, whilst appealing to the contemporary client.

Carien: My designs are characterised by fluid lines that emphasise object proportions. They are creative, contemporary and functional at the same time and these are attributes that appeal to a wide market.

Catch all the Emerging Creatives at the Design Indaba Conference 2017.