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Sunday, February 5, 2012


Glossy and informative publication featuring the work of 12 top SA interior designers. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Coming from a family of architects, Paul Duncan is a former editorial director at Condé Nast Independent Magazines and the former editor of Condé Nast’s House & Garden (South Africa)

Style Icons, a glossy and informative publication featuring superb photography, looks at the work of 12 top South African interior designers, each with their own unique style and approach to design.

“I thought it would be a good idea to look at them together as a collection,” says Duncan. “Their roots are essentially in sync and they have a single voice. Each one is doing something that makes sense in the South African context.” He proudly asserts that the book provides “the best evidence yet that in South Africa we have the edge.”

Style Icons provides interesting insight into how interior designers approach their work and handle clients’ desires and aesthetic values. Following each designer’s comments about what provides their inspiration, are examples of their creations which reflect Duncan’s description that they are all “dramatic, passionate, exuberant, confident, sensitive and courageous.”

Designs are featured in hotels and private homes around South Africa as well as Zimbabwe and Botswana with a few bush camps and some of the decorators’ own homes. While many of the designs may be too extravagant in price, quality or availability for the average home decorator, there is certainly a wealth of ideas to draw on. However, there is not a lot of provision for the human element and its attendant clutter or animals – like cats - who might pose major threats to the safety of valuable glass and china!

Expansive spaces are the choice of Karen Roos while Stephen Falcke and John Jacob Zwiegelaar favour the use of white. Charlotte Daneel seems to prefer steely greys while Michele Throssell believes her forte is creating lifestyles for family homes and placing priority on relaxation areas and bedrooms. Julian and Trevyn McGowan pull on Julian’s skills as a theatre/opera designer

The glorious glow of wood, floors, panelling and sideboards with Persian carpets and heavy drapes is part of Graham Viney’s design. I was most intrigued by the odd placement of a quirky pagoda-styled flower holder close to an ornate cabinet.

Stefan Antoni indicates that he goes many steps further to create a glamorous lifestyle solution. His designs in the book feature expansive rooms with comfortable furniture and a magnificent view overlooking the sea.

Boyd Ferguson introduces a vibrant modern African look at Pamushana in Zimbabwe with elements of Shangaan culture. In total contrast, there’s the incorporation of deep pinks and reds in the Hout Bay Manor décor which I found too overwhelming.

Maira Koutsoudakis’s sumptuous colonial style mixed with a strong tropical island element affirms that nature is often her firm’s partner in design while respecting the power of the elements.

Having been born and brought up in Kenya, the work of Catherine Raphaely appeals to me with its safari-style. Tortoise shells in a row on top of a highly polished chest appear like a bunch of helmeted choristers in full song.

The chapter on Toni Tollman, who recently revamped the gracious Oyster Box Hotel at Umhlanga, is closer to home for KZN readers. Tollman finds a lot of her inspiration from Tony Duquette, a 1940’s Hollywood set designer and decorator.

My favourite image is a bedroom design by Stephen Falcke in Mpumalanga where the glass doors slide open onto the glorious expanse of the bushveld.

Published by Struik, Style Icons retails at R330. ISBN 978-1-77007-938-0 - Caroline Smart