The South African home decor industry has seen a huge spike in product demand from the North American market. South African designers and craftsmen make products that American consumers describe as “dense and durable.” In many cases, the longevity of these products is a pleasant side effect of what goes into their production. South African designers are increasingly turning to sustainably sourced and eco-friendly materials. South Africans are using found objects, stuff considered by others to be waste, and recycled items to make home decor that is distinctly South African in style. International markets are devouring it. Here are 8 eco-friendly home decor designers in South Africa.
Raw design studios make furniture and storage solutions for home and office use from birch plywood and other sustainable sourced wood. Raw is known best for their klik modular storage system–a virtually endlessly adjustable set of shelves, boxes, and cupboards. Raw has taken over total design and decor of some of South Africa’s largest offices, including the South African Bureau of Standards, according to Rawstudios.co.za.
Milky Rose makes chandeliers and other home ware from recycled plastic–specifically the bottoms of soda bottles. You can view some of their candle holders on Pinterest. Their chandelier was named a Top 10 Green Product at Design Indaba South Africa, according to Inhabitat.com.
Ronel Jordaan uses a special technique to make home decor accent pieces like throw pillows and coffee table stools out of felt. Jordaan’s boho-chic look relies on biodegradable, fully local soap and dyes that meet strict sustainability standards, along with non-carbonized wool — as opposed to carbonization wool which uses harmful chemicals, so she said she avoids this process. Any water waste that comes from Jordaan’s process goes into organic food gardens, according to Roneljordaan.com.
Nash makes modern and decorative lighting fixtures out of paper and recycled plastic. He details his innovative methods for “upcycling” on Heathnash.com, like using recycled bottles to make colorful flower accents and using galvanized steel wire to bind items together. He regularly teaches workshops on how to make his signature flowerball light fixtures and milk handle light fixtures.
Roche Van Den Berg makes home accessories out of used tires. South Africa has millions of used tires that people discard on the side of the road. Roche’s first exhibit was called Roche Recycle Relove, and his website has taken on the name. Van Den Berg makes every type of home decor and furniture out of tires, from patio chairs and footstools to outdoor wall art and mirror frames. You can see the full collection on Roche-recycle-relove.withtank.com.
The Libere Foundation aims to help people on every level of its business model. Using found and recycled objects, the company gives creative children the opportunity to design art-deco lights and lamps and then hires unemployed crafts workers to make them. The foundation also hosts craft and design workshops for unemployed women, the elderly, women with disabilities and other disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa, according to Designindaba.com.
South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi’s opening words on his website are, “I collect rubbish and make something beautiful from it.” When Buthelezi was a young artist, he couldn’t afford expensive canvases, so he made his creations on plastic canvases. He eventually began turning plastic into paint via a heat gun, and this became his signature touch. He’s expanded to using all sorts of litter and trash to create his works of art. You can see some of his work on Mbongeni-buthelezi.com.
Tony Budden is a hemp expert in South Africa who promotes what is deemed an illegal substance in the country as a sustainable building material. Budden teamed up with a Dutch architect to create the Hemp House–an entirely biodegradable, seven-room home. It has 85 percent of the cabinetry and furniture made from hemp, and the flooring is made from cork, says Inhabitat.com.