South Africa's philosophy of design
Did you know?
The South African flag incorporates the colours of the ruling ANC Party with those of the old Boer republics.
There once was a South African most people had never heard of, called Outa Lappies.
He ended his days living in a tiny railway house at Prince Albert Station in the Western Cape Karoo. Outa Lappies, also known as The Patchwork Man, used to scrabble about in the town dump of nearby Prince Albert village. He picked out pieces of glass and tin, and fashioned them into desirable objects, pieces of outsider art.
People used to stop by at his displays and offer him a lot of money for his creations. And if you overpaid Outa Lappies, he’d just shake his head and give you an extra object from his motley collection.
'Every day, you must make something out of nothing,' was his motto.
Every day, South Africans young and old, rich and poor, are making something out of nothing at the tip of Africa. Since the democratic elections of 1994, the creative South African cat has been let out of the bag. South African designers are taking the world – perhaps more importantly, their own backyard – by storm.
Inspired by the natural world about us, the scrub lands, the mountains, the wild coastline and our urban jungles, South African designers in all fields have been let free to roam the creative landscape. Many of them travel offshore and into Africa regularly, bringing back a touch of this, a taste of that.
Walk through a South African environment and you’re in deep Malaysia, just off the Malacca Straits, you’re somewhere in Beijing, you’re briefly on Madison Avenue, you’re in the Congo, you’re in Kenya or on a hilltop watching the fish trappers of Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. South Africans are nothing if not eclectic, and have embraced fusion design with gusto.
Design in South Africa takes its influences from our peoples' many histories, we are also shameless ‘borrowers’ from other cultures and we make our living and working spaces a celebration of life, creativity and the moment.
The thing with Outa Lappies was that international visitors adored the man and his philosophy. If you’d ever walked around the rude interior of his little railway house, you would have seen it papered with cuttings from prestigious European, British and American magazines: all about the Karoo Patchwork Man, who made something from nothing – every day.