My ekasi, my ekapa

Six of Cape Town's top designers tell Monique Pelser's lens what their favourite design in the Mother City is.

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"I admire the interiors of local shops that have stayed the same for decades; the original look often preserved by the stubborn inflexibility of the proprietor. It seems as if the simplicity of sameness is needed in order to understand what 'new' means, whether it is at all necessary and, if it is, how it should look and so forth." - Frauke Stegmann

Widely known for Birds Café and her reconstituted Milnerton Market porcelains, Frauke Stegmann is also an internationally recognised graphic designer. Born in Windhoek, Namibia, Stegmann studied at Fachhochschule fuer Gestaltung in Mainz, Germany, before completing her Masters at the Royal College of Art in London. Having gained valuable work experience at Prada and Miu Miu, she set up studio in London, relocating to Cape Town three years ago. Clients and collaborators have included the Design Museum London, Peter Saville, Humberto and Fernando Campana, Jarvis Cocker, Wallpaper, Eley Kishimoto, Peter Jensen, bäke, Laurent Benner and James Goggin. In 2007 she was included in Onehundredat360, by Laurence King Publishers, which featured 100 designers in the first decade of their career from across the world. Due for release in 2008, she is also included in Area II, by Phaidon, which comprises 10 critics choosing 10 graphic designers from around the globe.

"My favourite design in Cape Town is the station building that is about to be demolished, like most great buildings in Cape Town. I love it for the sense of detail and generosity of material, 1950s light fittings, floor tiles, mosaics and decorative fixtures. Let's see if the new station will have the same sense of detail." - Peet Pienaar

Peet Pienaar is a performance artist turned graphic designer and co-owner of design studio Daddy Buy Me a Pony. He is the editor and publisher of the multi-award-winning Afro magazine - a pan-African magazine showcasing contemporary writing and culture from the continent. Afro has won one grand prix Clio design award, two gold One Show awards in New York, two gold Clios in Miami and one gold pencil at the D&AD in London for magazine design. He is a founding member and a director of the Cape Africa Platform. Some of his latest projects include the design of a new sneaker range; a cover for leading Hong Kong design magazine Outlook; T-shirt graphics for Comme des Garçons; graphics for the New York Times; and founding the Bowling Club - a group that stimulates international exchange in Cape Town.

"I love it when old or everyday things are taken from their original context and recycled or redesigned into something completely new and beautiful. I love Frauke Stegmann's Milnerton Market Is Nice range of ceramics and I love Heath Nash's big colourful plastic lights. I also love the beautifully illustrated handmade books by Lyndi Sales of Fynbos Plants and I love Heather Moore's amazing paper cut-outs - I want them all!" - Marietjie Beeslaar

Marietjie Beeslaar's jewellery label Skermunkil has taken Cape Town by storm. The intricately delicate pendants, badges, rings and earrings are made using silver, gold, resin, wood, enamel and perspex, often including recontextualised found objects such as old nickel silver cutlery, broken crockery and biscuit tins. Beeslaar completed her jewellery design and manufacturing studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 1999 and established Skermunkil in 2006, after having the opportunity to explore and experiment with her oeuvre in an old barn in Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape. Thanks to the connections she made at her first Design Indaba in 2007 and constant participation in the Neighbourhood Goods market, Skermunkil is now hanging around every respectable Cape Town bobo's neck.

"My favourite design in Cape Town is the Cape Dutch houses because they have a story to tell rather than the new bling-bling houses." - Themba Mngomezulu

Founder of what is possibly South Africa's favourite local streetwear brand, Darkie's Themba Mngomezulu was first introduced into the fashion world when his mother started selling second-hand clothes. Unsatisfied with his accounting studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mngomezulu began to customise and recycle these clothes for himself and his friends, from which his design philosophy of "merging memories and future dreams" emerged. An unprecedented demand grew and in 2002 he launched the label at the South African Fashion Week. Known for its signature Afro comb, the Darkie style is characterised by its interesting colour combinations, innovative patterns and funky prints, inspired by local humour and heroes. Mngomezulu has also been involved with projects like the design of the Nando's uniform, clothing lines for government institutions and other private and corporate design. Recently he opened a dedicated Darkie boutique in Long Street and also launched a second, more experimental label, Regime.

"My favourite design in Cape Town is the harbour. I love the combination of industry, nature and the Atlantic Ocean." - Monique Pelser

Monique Pelser was drawn to photography after completing a course at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg. Following a stint as an apprentice photographer at Associated Press, she decided to rather explore the aesthetic potential of the medium and completed a Masters in Fine Art Photography in 2006 at Rhodes University. Working across a range of lens-based media, including photography, video and stop-frame animation, she was a finalist in the 2004 Brett Kebble Art Awards and has participated in a variety of group exhibitions. Her debut solo exhibition, Roles, earned her the title of Art South Africa's Number One Bright Young Thing 2007. The exhibition saw Pelser explore vocational archetypes - from librarian and mechanic to airline steward and security guard. In each instance, Pelser set up the shot, dressed in the clothes of the subject and had the subject take the photograph of her in the role. This narrative approach to image making emerges again in these Design Indaba exclusive portraits, which each seem to tell a story. Pelser has recently taken up a part-time lecturing position at Wits University. She is also working on a new exhibition and freelances as a commercial photographer. Website:

Watch the Talk with Heath Nash