2014 - What a Year it Was

I usually neglect to take stock of a year that has just passed, but not 2014. I am going to make this a regular habit and document some of the special events, discoveries and experiences we had as a Studio.

We participated in Design Indaba in February partnering with our good friend, Amanda Du Plessis at Evolution. Always a buzz and a thrill to participate in a platform such as this, Cape Town being the world design capital for the year was heaving with suitably stylish décor-istas.  I fortunately, found myself in the Central Kalahari and despite being rained out and having to return home early, preferred the sight of a desert underwater.

Bushfire, a world renown Swazi music festival got underway in May.  We joined the SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade) pavilion and enjoyed the inimitable vibe and atmosphere of this weekend.

We completed a large carpet order and managed to weave one of the largest carpets we had ever undertaken for a private residence. More than five meters wide and nearly eight meters long, it was a truly a behemoth but a beautiful one. As all of our batches of handspun mohair are hand dyed it is a delicate art in dyeing kilo after kilo and subtly blending the colours so that they melt into each other gently (and do not "argue" along the way).

In August we attended the inaugural 100% Design Exhibition which was held within the halls of Decorex, Johannesburg.  I have never quite participated in such a huge event and the brilliantly curated hall in which we were in was a melting pot of slick design and forward thinkingness.  I met up with some old and new friends and was gobsmacked by the sheer volume of people, product and non-stop sales and enthusiasm. 

In October we took on an order for tapestry carpets, which is a fairly new experience for us.  Of course we're old hands at our usual weaving styles by tapestry carpets (although we have done a few) like the ones we agreed to do were something a little different.  Fortunately I have the assistance of my mother-in-law, Marguerite Stephens (Mags), who carefully helped with the background cartoons and assisted in getting the project underway.  After several weeks of detailed and delicate work we cut the rugs off the looms and were impressed with what we had created.  They were simply beautiful.  And we have another few sets to weave we that have been booked for 2015.

In between we completed some large raffia lights destined for Australia and some of our crocheted shaggy cushions - both of which were something that have become a real look for us.  We overhauled our shop with new shop fittings and towards the end of the year added a range of recycled paper bowls (thank you www.quazi.com) and timeless kikois (thank you www.mungo.co.za).  We were visited by some fascinating people and organisations: photographer, Alison Wright (www.alisonwright.com), along with Nest (www.buildanest.com), Artisan Connect (www.artisanconnect.com).  Glynis Brooke, a weaving "coach" is a powerhouse of knowledge, ideas and practical knowhow.  We were fortunate enough to have her as a tutor for an intensive course where new weaves were introduced and experimented with.  We're planning to dust off some looms and get them back into production to allow some of our up and coming women access to learning a skill.

Mags's exhibition launched at the Wits Art Museum (www.witsartmuseum) in Johannesburg in November.  It opened to a stunning reception, the main hall was crammed with people all numb with excitement at having just seen enormous tapestries of William Kentridge's work hung in this newly extended gallery.  Mags's team of weavers (some of whom work from her satellite studio at Boshimela) were feted and lauded and commended for their excellent skill.

We completed the year by undertaking orders which were barely finished by the time we closed our doors and left for a quiet, rural holiday.