south african designers guide

one of the biggest bummers about HG closing was that a number of pieces i comissioned from my favorite bloggers that were due to appear on the site weren’t able to be posted. thankfully the writers were ok with the content appearing here instead! one of my favorite pieces was written by gary payn of spray glue in south africa. gary kindly agreed to let me post his roundup of up-and-coming south african artists and designers here instead so i’m thrilled to introduce gary’s selections right here. the guide starts below the jump so click here to view the full post or just click “read more” below. this guide will be archived in the guides section from now on if you’d like to view it again after it’s off the main page. thanks to gary for all his hard work!

Designer #1: Heather Moore

After working as an illustrator and writer for 11 years, Heather Moore decided to try her hand at a bit of design, so she started up a label called Skinny laMinx.

While still keeping up her magazine illustration and comics writing work, Heather puts her spare time to good use, designing and printing in her Cape Town studio. Her favourite tool is a nice sharp exacto knife, which she uses to hand-cut vinyl and paper artworks as well as decorative fridge magnets. She also wields her knife while coming up with textile designs which she screenprints onto T-shirts, teatowels, cushions and purses.

After opening an online shop at in April 2007, Skinny laMinx has been growing fast, and Heather has launched five new fabric designs since her shop opened, with many more waiting in the wings. Following the label’s online success, Skinny laMinx is now available in selected shops all over South Africa too. Heather’s fabrics and artwork is for sale at, and you can keep updated on her creative progress by reading her blog at For more info, read interviews with Heather at Craft Synergy and Indie Pretty Perfect.

Designer #2: Heath Nash

Heath Nash is a designer and maker from Cape Town. After majoring in sculpture at UCT, Heath started using the paper-skills developed there to make lights, eventually leading to the exploration of local craft materials and techniques – wire, binding, recycled materials. This led to a range he calls ‘other people’s rubbish’ made from old used plastic bottles. You can contact Heath via email right here.


Designer #3: Trevor Paul

Trevor Paul of Firebrand Design is a one-man graphic design and illustration outfit based in Durban, South Africa.


Designer #4: Chloe Townsend

Missibaba is a young, Cape Town based, accessory design company established just under three years ago by designer Chloe Townsend, after completing her studies at the London College of Fashion and homesick for her native surroundings. The leather pieces are hand crafted in an old cold room on the second floor
of a building housing a creative bunch. Her on going love affair with leather – it’s smell, maleability, depth of colour and texture – have been the underlying constant element in her design, be it pleated, hand painted, punched out, cut out or stitched. Fusing her solid practical training and her playful work ethic, Chloe’s designs allow for more freedom with colour and texture experimentation in a traditional craft field. A happy work environment is key – whether collaborating with craftswomen at the IKaya Trust Centre on one off embroidered bags or with her workshop team on her everyday bits and pieces. Inspired by people and surroundings allows for constant suprise and creativity.


Designer #5: Annabella Hilda Loubser

Annabella grew up in the Kalahari desert in Namibia. After finishing her degree in textile design and Technology (cumlaude) in Cape Town she and her husband relocated to Durban, South Africa. Annabella is inspired by the people of Africa, her german heritage, fellow designers, her environment
and God’s love. The she does variesm but it’s always about surface decoration and styling enhancing beauty and meaning in every possible way. You can contact Anabella right here.




Designer #6: Clinton Friedman


Clinton Friedman is a commercial photographer specialising in Advertising, Editorial and Fashion photography. He not only works on local projects in South Africa, but has also had the opportunity to shoot commisions in Miami Florida, Atlanta, New York City, London, India and China.


Designer #7: Christopher de Beer


Christopher is a graphic junior designer/art director from Durban South Africa, that wishes he was an industrial designer as well. Christopher is currently working in the advertising industry (fulltime), while completing his 4th year of study (Btech. Degree) at the same time. While completeing his graduate course in graphic design at DUT (Durban Institute of technology) Christopher works full-time as a Junior Designer in an Advertising Agency and runs his blog. He’s also in the process of sourcing and importing a clothing label with a partner and sells products developed by members of The Empire Collective at his Etsy Shop.



Designer #8: Crystal Cambell and Rosebud&Grumpers

Rosebud&Grumpers is a network of creative thinkers for developing interdisciplinary design projects. As a network, they blend unconventional, traditional and modern equipment and methods to produce a unique perspective in public art, open communities and knowledge sharing. Rosebud&Grumpers exhibits their work as a collective and aims to create community in design. Members of Rosebud&Grumpers are involved in several different creative facets. For this reason you will find we work in a wide range of creative projects. More detailed information can be found right here. South African stockists and e-commerce information can be found right here. The designer behind this specific project is Crystal Campbell.



Designer #9: Chantelle Roberts

Chantelle Roberts is a designer and illustrator from Vryheid, South Africa (but living and studying in Durban, South Africa). The 22 year old is currently studying for a Btech. Degree in Graphic design, focusing on Children’s Book illustrations and Character Design. This year has been spent specializing in children’s book illustration, having written and illustrated a children’s book of her own called I Love Broccoli. After spending some time developing her drawings she found that the medium she was working in for her book, namely gouache, wasn’t suited to some of the illustrations. She decided to branch out and, after searching the net for some inspiration, she came across the website of Heidi Kenney. After seeing her plushies, Chantelle decided that she had found her new medium: felt! Unfortunately, the pure wool felt is a little pricey in SA, so she’s stuck making them out of synthetic felt… but the extra love and care put into the making of each creature makes up for that. She hasn’t been taught how to sew or make patterns, but instead makes it up as she goes along. Chantelle’s toys are on sale at The Empire Collective at Etsy.


Designer #10: Suzanna Garland and Petticoat

There’s a delightful story behind the conception of South African fashion label, Petticoat. It all began when Cape Town designer Suzannah Garland was living in New York, doing a stint as assistant fashion editor for an American pop-culture magazine. One day, combing the streets of New York for inspiration, she came across a tiny boutique infused with the most wonderful scent. It was a moment when destiny played her card. Suzannah bought a bottle of the fragrance and left the shop having made the decision to launch her own fashion label. Today, when you buy one of her Petticoat creations, you’ll discover each has the same subtle scent. It’s this delicious attention to detail that is Petticoat’s signature. Suzannah returned to South Africa and honed her eye for fashion as art director of Glamour magazine, before introducing Petticoat over three years ago.


Designer #11: Bridget Mcnulty

Bridget McNulty is a passionate writer inspired by why people act the way they do. So fascinated, in fact, that she’s written a book about it. It’s about other things, too, but the undercurrent is all about figuring out why we do the stupid things we do. Especially when they relate to love.
Strange Nervous Laughter is this book. It follows a garbageman and an undertaker and a man who can speak to whales and a cashier-turned-motivational speaker as they muddle their way through the hottest summer Durban has ever known.

To promote the book, Bridget started a daily blog, and linked it to her website. The website offers news and a biography and an email club. There is also a Downloads page with a sample chapter, desktops and recipes. She sent the press copies out with hand-stamped green tea packets and handwritten notes, and ensures that at each of her readings there are green cupcakes (and green cake for a kissing photo prize.)

Why the emphasis on green? One of her characters eats only green food, in the hopes of getting into the Guinness Book of Records. Bridget is entering for the World’s Largest Cupcake in November.
Through her website, emails, and blog Bridget has gained a strong online following, but she feels very strongly about personally interacting with her readers, which is why she has three tea parties planned in the next two months – one in Durban, one in Cape Town and one in Joburg. She is inspired by cupcakes and fancy tea cups and time spent having real conversations in beautiful places.

To contact her, please visit her website or blog above, or email

Cover design by Disturbance Design




This is brilliant. I would love to see heaps more of this beautiful work.
Heath Nash…nice.


Love this site. For someone living out of the country now and involved in design (interiors) it beautiful to see what is coming out of the young South African design world.


A beautiful post, although I find myself wondering if there any desingers of color in South Africa who could also be featured. I know that there is so much beautiful work being done in Africa, and many times those of color are overlooked. I would certainly love to see more.


very well put afrochic, I totally agree, I would like to see more designers who are people of color in general on this page.


Yes, South African design right now is Hot, Hot, Hot! I spent time there this summer (winter) and am still processing the great ideas.


This guide to South African design is fantastic. It is so interested to find out what is going on in an international setting.

Can’t wait to check the designers work out in some more detail.


these artists are all great and the work of putting this together is appreciated, but really? not even one black designer? that would be like doing a Brooklyn guide without any of the amazing black artists we have… makes me a bit sad.


just a note, i’ve asked gary to respond to some of the diversity questions above. i didn’t write this piece and i’m not familiar with this area so i can’t speak to the artists in this particular region.



i didn’t even read the comments before i added my suggestions to the mix, but just wanted to say i agree that this list is great but missing a *lot* of the fantastic black designers that i met or heard about when i was there. looking fwd to an updated list…


misibaba’s bags really are outta sight! when do we get stateside :)


misibaba’s bags are really outta sight!
when do we get ‘em stateside?


if anyone has specific names please do add them here or email them to me. i’m happy to add them here.



From a South African, please note we are all South Africans…why do you have to bring colour into it…you are seeing some fantastic examples of what South African design has to offer and believe me there’s plenty more from where this lot came from! And Bridget’s book is lekker! Ubuntu…


hey kevin, we’re americans and can’t help it :) but seriously, this is a valid question in a country like SA that is majority black. we’re interested in *all* SA designers of course, but couldn’t help but notice that some folks seemed to be missing… i added the 2 names i had. hope others do the same!


Chloe Townsend makes some fabulous bags! I hope to see them stateside soon :)

heather moore

Thanks to Gary and to Grace for this fantastic roundup. Clearly, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and maybe what’s needed to clear the air is another roundup with a whole nother bunch of fabbo SA designers.


I thank everyone for their response to my comment. This is not about black and white, but really about celebrating the diversity of a country that has so much to offer. I look forward to Gary’s response. Thank you very much Grace.


I hear all of your concerns regarding the “designers of colour” from South Africa. I prefer to call them South Africans personally, and as a proud, patriotic South African citizen we have only one colour in South Africa. This colour is called South African and it is quite beautiful in so many ways. Equality, unity, peace and love for each other.

This brief was kindly given to me by Grace months ago to find and expose, up and coming South African designers. I sent out the brief I put together to 68 designers, which included 29 South Africans “of colour”. I did consider the likes of Stoned Cherrie and Craig Native as hopefuls but as they are already well-established South African fashion designers, I didn’t think they met the brief. I love their work and own t-shirts from Mr Native, which are awesome to say the least. The brief was passed around beyond the 68 designers and submissions started flooding my inbox the very next day. Of the 32 submissions I received, I did not receive 1 South African “of colour” amongst them. This was very sad and I waited a little longer to see if any would come through before the deadline loomed over my head. I then selected the best of the best from the submissions and collated these before sending them off to Grace. 3 South African friends of mine, Siya, Shebe and Jamal, who happen to be designers, were begged and pleaded with to submit work but they were either too busy or couldn’t get around to it. (the life of a designer as most of you know can be hectic!) I totally agree that there should have been a more diverse selection of designers but it was not from lack of trying. I think the above designers are all very talented, as I’m sure you will agree, and South African design has been well represented amongst the work showcased.

Thanks Kevin for your thoughts.
Kindest Regards


hey gary, thanks for the update! i think most of our comments were coming from a spirit of inclusiveness and appreciate that you attempted the same when you compiled the list. all in all, i was very happy to see that SA design is still as hot as i remember it when i was last there! one love.


Hi Gary,
Thank you for a great post, I loved it and was emormously proud to see us Saf’ricans on my all time favourite blog/website. Only thing I noticed was that all the designers are from Durb’s or CT. Where are the Joburg designers? Or where they also to ‘hectic’ to participate. Not sure living in Joburg promotes creativity. Just grey hair. Oh, and also had no idea Heather from Skinny laMinx was South African. Have always admired her work overseas and on etsy. Thank you to all those South Africans who participated, you make me so proud. Love.


I’d like to see this post removed until it is reworked to be inclusive. I’m such a big Designsponge fan, but I’m not sure saying “I didn’t write this post..” is enough. This is a big deal.

the gutless wonder

Thank you so much for such a wonderful article. I appreciate your response to diversity concerns, but I wanted to continue the encouragement because this is a spectacular inclusion on design*sponge.

As a frequent visitor to East and South Africa, I feel it’s extremely important to enlighten westerners about the rich culture that exists there. There are so many amazing design ideas circulating in that region at the moment… Please do keep up the research, won’t you?


Hi there Gary. Great post. Its about time South African designers got more exposure on the ‘net. Too bad there is still a colour issue… I’m a South African of colour – seems that white isn’t a colour these days though. Seriously though, thank you for exposing the tip of the South African talent iceberg. I hope to see more soon.

julia cosimi cannata

hello! i love your web site, i liked very much all the design that the web has…i`m sorry if my english it`s not well, is because i`m from Argentina…bye bye!


I am so pleased to find that there’s a guide of SA designers!!
Way to go!
Amandla! :D


Considering the very RECENT history of race problems in South Africa, the problem of “black/white” access to resources, exposure, etc. is VERY relevant. Here in the United States we are STILL dealing with our race issues over a hundred years later. Thus it is only to be expected that S. Africa, with a more recent problem, is still doing the same…THUS, a guide to S. African design, that does not include “people of color” is very problematic!


just an editorial note, you have a designer at no.7, christopher de beer – you refer to him as christopherde – but the de is part of his surname, de beer. otherwise lovely to see you promoting exciting southafrican design, from a southafrican abroad.

Bobby de Nobrega

This website is fantastic….so great to see so many talented South African designers! I am trying to get hold of Suzannah Garland from Petticoat (which I know has closed down) but I adore her shoes, and would love to commission a range from her. Does anyone know her contact details?


As an African American (whose mother is Zulu from South Africa) I can say I find this convo. very interesting, especially since I’m moving to Jo’burg in a couple of months.
I agree, the article was imbalanced, with a direct nod to the confusion that afflicts some white Africans who live in South Africa. As for your selection criteria, noted in your response above, I think that as an author you have a responsibility to articulate your selection terms before presenting your material. Doing so you could have avoided all of this legitimate push back.
Hello! Living in Africa and wishing to ignore color- news flash, there is no “one color” anywhere in the world and whether it was intentional or not, it’s just BIZARRE!


I love the handcrafted accessories that come out of South Africa- they are totally worth it! Recently I have become familiar with a sustainable company that has a really good cause. Imagine Home designs home accessories and employs those in impoverished regions (especially South Africa) to handcraft them. Proceeds from sales go back to these crafters for education, resources, and overall well being. Check it out!

Michele (One+1 design)

Great to see some of my fave designers featured!Afrochic -for “designers of colour” Durban is the place to be! Get your hands on “Durban Poyzn” t’s , “Rockpaperscissors” streetwear and “Roots and Kulcha” at Euphoria in Glenwood.Visit “I Heart Market” in Morningside for a wealth of upcoming designers of all colours, and while you’re at it One+1 does great multicultural clothes for the young and colourblind generation!


hi. i would just like to say that its silly that us south africans are getting worked up over colour. We should be proud of ALL our designers and should appreciate the talent that was put up on the site instead of trying to find faultt and complaining on colour!!!! There are so many fabulous designers in South Africa and these are just a few to admire and read about so stop concentrating on the negative and be a happy South African… No matter what colour, its the only way forward, and this is aboue design not people’s colour, i am a black women and am proud of all of these designers for being on this blog, so stop being bitter people… people who are saying if theres no black people it doesnt show the true South Africa are being ridiculous, we are all equal, we must get out of this mindset, and besides all of that, i find it rude to talk about that instead of complimenting the designers shown..its bad taste to moan about why arent ‘other’ people on the post, just appreciate the designers that are. AMANDLA south africa xxxx i love my country and everyone in it. It makes it special our diversity


I am from Poland. I love Africa and in particular South Africa, I am also ALARMED that there are no black designers here- having myself seen SO MANY throughout SA. This is ver SAD!


Great designs guys! It is a pity that everything in SA must always be about color!!!


Hi Shaun

We are on the look-out for emerging South African designers who have an edge, who offer unique fashion design products, who produce quality and are proud of their designs – we will select designers who accentuate the brand of our Boutique Mall and will offer them shelf space in our very upmarket Fashion Boutique in Cape Town.

This is a great opportunity for young designers who are looking for an opportunity to get their brand into the market place.

If possible, would you send me your database of emerging designers so that I can make contact with them. Eagerly awaiting your response.