Mothers & Daughters in Design (Part 2): Studio Famille

The members of this team have an assortment of creative skills which they pooled en famille to form Studio Famille – a luxurious online store.

Mother Isobel Sippel and daughters Carla and Gabrielle Kruger of Studio Famille work in textile design, jewellery design and fine art respectively.

CarlaMaxine is the jewellery division of Studio Famille with eldest daughter Carla Kruger behind it. Her journey to this family collective began when she graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree in jewellery design and metal techniques.

After graduation, Carla went on exchange to Amsterdam and concurrently worked as an intern in a contemporary jewellery gallery. “I was very involved in the contemporary jewellery world, which was the best six months of my career,” she says.

As a designer, Carla feels pulled in two directions: on the one hand she wants to make jewellery that is “mostly contemporary and is motivated by a story behind it”. But on the other hand she feels the client often isn’t willing to pay for those pieces because they work out to be pricey.  

“It’s very difficult to merge those two into something that is sellable but still contemporary – you don’t want to sell your soul creatively but you still have to make money to pay the rent, ” Carla says.

For her leg of the collaboration, Isobel Sippel Designs, Sippel designs her own fabric for her products. She hand-dyes and paints natural fabrics such as raw linen and silk to create pillows, scarves, tablecloths, napkins and even tote bags.

Sippel’s latest collection is a range of cushions upholstered in material dyed in the traditional Japanese method called shibori. Sippel modernises the technique slightly by using a colour pattern not traditionally used in shibori, and she adds contemporary finishing touches such as gold zips.

To achieve the shibori effect, one can bind, stitch, fold, twist, or compress cloth to create different types of shibori patterns. Tie-dye made groovy in the 60s is a method of shibori called “Kanoko”.

Not to be eclipsed by her daughters, Sippel says: “I follow trends all the time and I try to stay ahead with the newest ideas.”

Inevitably, the question of the dynamics of the relationship came up in the interview and daughter Carla answered it honestly: “Trying to keep business and your relationship with your mother separate is very difficult, because naturally as her child I need to show a lot of respect for her and sometimes as a business partner it’s difficult to make her understand something. But we have come to an understanding.”

Not featured in the video is youngest daughter Gabrielle Kruger. She is a fine arts and photography student at the University of Stellenbosch. Her work is featured on the Studio Famille online store.