Cape Town is home to a clutch of exciting fabric designers, and this week we cover another of our favourites: textile design studio FabricNation. They first made their name in South Africa with the wonderful Toile du Jozi print.
Ladies carrying buckets on their heads, the taxis which substitute for public transport, Johannesburg’s skyline, the hair salons on the side of the road… they are all there, depicted in the kind of fabric usually found on smart armchairs. The print, of course, is a play on traditional 18th century French toile de jouy fabrics, depicting scenes from everyday life:
FabricNation’s take on toile is a brilliant statement of establishment-meets-the dusty-street, and forms yet another example of a classic style being wittily co-opted to express, celebrate even, the cultural-hybrid nature of modern South Africa.
I am a big fan of their recent creation, the simple but stunning Veld print, effective especially on cushions:
Doesn’t that make you long for Africa (even if you’ve never been there)?
Here it is in context, as picked up by Skermunkil on her blog:
We visited FabricNation’s studio in Cape Town and spoke to Jane Solomon, the creative force behind these splendid fabrics.
Can you tell us a bit about what are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a group show called “Category Error 2″. This is with a group of eight other artists – we are exhibiting together for the second time – and the exhibition is opening on 13 december at the AVA gallery in Cape Town. (SiBl: the AVA also have a great current show – Dave Southwood‘s photos of the Milnerton market).
For the show I have done a new print called umlungu print (SiBl: ‘umlungu’ means white man in Zulu). The layout is based on Dutch tiles – which you see a lot in old buildings in Cape Town – and I am making it up into an upholstered padded and studdded wall panel. The print is in Delft blue on a cream hopsack basecloth.
Can you tell us a bit about a day in the life of your work? What is your favourite time of the (working) day?
For me every day takes on its own pattern depending on the task at hand. I also do a lot of work training in craft development so there’s a lot of juggling and plenty of lists on the go. I love the time when I get to be alone in my studio especially if the weather is good and I can work looking out over my neighbour’s beautiful green garden. I also enjoy the interaction (during production) with other tradespeople/crafters all over the city.
Does South Africa influence what you make and if so, how?
Yes! I’m inspired by traditions of how textiles are used and appreciated in this part of the world. My designs draw on the culture, history and nature of South Africa.
Aside: a good example is the Liliaceae fabric, which shows indigenous South African flora in a ‘rooted’ version of a traditional botanical print.
What inspires you in the southern hemisphere?
We can relate … and the northern hemisphere?
Safe cities where you can walk at night.
We can also relate to that … and finally, if you could redesign one object what would it be?
A toolbox – the one I have has space for nails etc at the top and it becomes too heavy for the bottom, so that when you open up the toolbox it tips over backwards. Very frustrating!
Thanks Jane … we’ll be stocking selected FabricNation products – and for anyone in Cape Town, get on over to the AVA!