Ilundi Design: in praise of leather

Some of designer and artist Safia Stodel's handmade leather items take up to 14 hours to produce.

Every leather item that comes out of the Ilundi studio is made entirely by hand: dyed, punched, stitched and woven in a labour of love that can take up to 14 hours per piece. But the process is worth it to founding designer Safia Stodel, who feels drawn to the particular charms of leather as a material to work with. 

In this exclusive video interview, Stodel tells us about how she is developing her designs and where she takes inspiration.

“I am quite seduced by the different properties of leather: the smell of it, the natural grain, the way that it can be manipulated,” says Stodel. “It darkens over age and develops a beautiful patina.”

Ilundi makes a variety of leather goods from large travel and weekend bags to smaller satchels and clutches, and accessories such as belts and wallets. The leather is sourced locally in South Africa and sewn with a traditional saddle stitch.

Born to entrepreneur parents, Stodel was encouraged to pursue her own creative ventures from a young age. She started Ilundi four years ago, taking the name – which means “morning star” in Portuguese – from a daughter of South African freedom fighters.

At Design Indaba Expo 2015, Ilundi will be exhibiting a selection of reworked classics as well as cut-out bags and a new range of moulded leather bags inspired by a Simon Hasan chair.

“This range differs from before as it is a lot more structural, sculptural and we utilise the properties of the leather to the best of its capabilities.”

Stodel says that one of the biggest challenges for South African designers and entrepreneurs is finding a work force that shares your passion and finding readily available business finance.