All eyes on Africa and green living at Decorex Joburg

With close on 52 000 visitors flocking through its doors - an astounding 25% more than the previous year - Decorex Joburg confirmed that the South African decor and design industry is alive and well, walking with a new-found swagger, showing pride in its own abilities and confidence in the future.
All eyes on Africa and green living at Decorex JoburgSponsored by Plascon with DStv as media partner, Decorex Joburg celebrated its sixteenth exhibition at Gallagher Convention Centre with a sell-out show and highly satisfied exhibitors. The South African Handmade Collection, the trade craft expo organised by the dti, once again co-located with Decorex.

Says Melanie Robinson, director Decorex SA: “Not even a flattened economy could dampen the enthusiasm of our exhibitors and visitors. It is clear that our strategy to combine excellent value with innovation was right on the money. Visitors expected something special, cost-saving and trend-driven, which our exhibitors delivered in true form.”

She added that in times of an economic downswing consumers shop around a lot more significantly. “They are also a lot more discerning when making purchasing decisions. Having such a plethora of choices under one roof made Decorex Joburg the best place to shop for quality products at bargain prices, ranging from high-ticket items and investment pieces to smaller appliances and decor items.”

Robinson also pointed out that the greening of the exhibition was a major draw card, tapping in on the immense consumer need for guidance towards more conscious living. “New attractions such as the Pick n Pay Living Green Pavilion with its edible landscapes and eco-caring home products focused on sustainability, mindful green living and eco-solutions that are aesthetically pleasing and affordable. The experience-driven Pathway to Sustainability also proved to be hugely popular, setting a new benchmark in green-minded decor exhibitions.”

It is most encouraging that a new generation of designers and decor brands featured at the show are driven as much by ethics as by aesthetics,” she added. “This is in step with their new responsibility to analyze the life cycle of their designs and the items they use: how a product is made, how it will be used and where it will go at the end of its functioning life."

Working closely with Gallagher Convention Centre, Decorex SA is aimed at hosting zero waste events, from reducing packaging and re-use of materials such as banners to eco-friendly printing and re-imagined green breathing spaces throughout the exhibition.

Said Cairey Slater, general manager: exhibitions, “The economic climate has catapulted recession decor to new heights, as opulence makes way for a new form of minimalism: getting by with what we have, topped up with inventiveness. While trend-spotting is high on the list of visitor expectations, the renewed interest in DIY (now with a design edge) sprouted a variety of activities to hone visitors' creative talents and DIY-know-how. Experts at the Theatre of Ideas and the Midgard Theatre for Sustainable Living enticed visitors to tackle home makeovers on a shoe string budget; to consider alternative energy sources for the home and get to grips with concepts such as vermiculture. The talk on recession decor by Juliet Newell of ‘Decor made Simple' on DStv Home Channel confirmed the demand for expert advice on do-it-yourself-decor."
Another addition to the show aimed at entertaining and informing home enthusiasts was the DStv Lounge. Beautifully designed relaxation areas such as this not only provided breathing spaces and meeting places, visitors also loved getting insider info on their favourite décor and lifestyle programmes.

In addition to the greening trend and recession-inspired styles, the new design direction on everybody's lips is the way the African continent has become a major source of inspiration for the design world. The African influence was most evident in the new Plascon 2010 Colour Forecast unveiled at the show.

According to Anne Roselt, Plascon colour manager and colour forecaster, the new colour forecast reflects Africa's creative energy and natural splendour: “2009 focused on the “green movement” and this continues into 2010. However wherever we researched we found inspiration from Africa coming up and therefore we have identified Africa as the major trend influence coming through for 2010.”

The four palettes of the Plascon 2010 Colour Forecast (Northern Exotica, Southern Spectacle, Western Desert and Eastern Promise) each represent the natural, cultural and historical riches of their namesake geographical regions in Africa.

The reasons Roselt cited for the global interest in Africa include South Africa's selection as host nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “Add to this Nelson Mandela's enduring global appeal and the fact that the latest international newsmaker, President Barack Obama, has roots in Kenya. Filmmakers are increasingly choosing the Mother Continent as the location for movies and holidaymakers are hard pressed to find anything even close to the magnificence of our National parks. And, not only did this year's New York Fashion Week see African designs showcased alongside the likes of Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton, but these fashion greats themselves drew on the continent for inspiration for their own collections.”

Another highlight was the colour talk presented by Leatrice Eiseman, international colour expert hailing from the USA. Eiseman is the Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute, named by Fortune Magazine as one of the 10 top decision makers for her work in colour. Widely viewed as the foremost international authority on colour trends, she confirmed Africa as a major influence on the global design world, with one of her own colour palettes for 2010 ‘Gatherings' being rooted in Africa.

Using the Plascon 2010 Colour Forecast as her design inspiration, Yolande Wieners from d² Interiors in Durban created a stand to match these colour trends and themes. Expressing the 32 new colours in the four diverse palettes through different textures, moods and hues, the stand reflected Plascon's eco-consciousness and current philosophy about recycling and re-using. The stand conveyed its message so effectively that Wieners won the coveted award ‘Best Stand on Show' for her interpretation of this new love affair with all things African.

Being the largest décor and design exhibition in Southern Africa, with 650 exhibitors spread over five halls, the Decorex award system also recognised other exceptional stands finding inventive ways to present themselves and their products in the most memorable way.

A light, airy study using contrasting elements of urban and chic took the Sanlam Next Generation Style Shaper Award. Designed by Gregg Fox of ‘Life designs by Gregg', the judges commented on the way Fox merged two sides of Jozi - the industrial, the cold and complex played off against the city's simple beauty. Clean lines and uncomplicated colours turned dull to elegant, while dusty concrete was in harmony with polished surfaces and wood grain. The outline of an electric pylon becomes a work of art, bringing energy and creativity to an accent wall, while his custom furniture merged cutting edge design with functionality. “This is a designer to watch - he will be around for a long time,” commented the judging panel.

An accolade for the Property Magazine Best Green Stand Award went to Aslam Mahomed of Black Chilli Designs for his eco-caring dining room. Mahomed's space reflected Joburg as a Metropolis of Africa: simple, elegant lines fuse with organic and geometric shapes. Flair without the flash, he turned an outdated decor magazine into a flower vase; used cushions (stuffed with recycled cola bottles) as seating on recycled plastic crates and turned the Jozi skyline into wall decoration.

Desmond Archibald of Desmond Archibald Interiors made his mark on a 9m², proving that even the minutest stand can be a monumental stage if the basics are understood and combined with a fresh, innovative approach. The judging panel commented on the way Archibald created an irresistible ‘jewel box' stand by merging, colour and interesting forms with oodles of drama.

The Plascon prize for ‘Best Use of Colour' went to the South African Handmade Collection, for the way colour was used to turn an empty hall into an energetic market place that made the heart beat faster. Sophisticated, yet organic and artistic, the colours added to the experience, without detracting from the colourful craft products displayed.


Best Overall Stand on Show:
Winner - Plascon, designed by Yolande Wieners of D² Interiors, Durban

Best Decor stand
Winner: Ambi Pur

Best Dream Rooms stand
Winner: Essential Life

Best Fine Finishes
Winner: Abacus

Best Kitchens & Bathrooms stand
Winner: Siematic

Sanlam Next Generation Style Shaper:
Winner: Gregg Fox of ‘Life designs by Gregg'

The Property Magazine Green Award:
Winner: Aslam Mahomed of Black Chilli Designs

Awards of Excellence:

Winners: Rosafurn; Ambiente Luce; Limelight Design; Blind Range; Liv ‘ it Interiors; World of Marble & Granite / Mobelli All Weather Furniture; Classic Trading; Marble Classic; Careline Kitchens; Creative Woods; Easylife Kitchens; CaesarStone Quartz Surfaces; Hansgrohe; Chocolate Lounge by Young Cherries Designing; GROHE SA; Forest Flooring; Eva Last; Bright Ideas; SA Décor & Design - The Buyers Guide; Inca International Stone Veneers; Kitchen Studio; Pick n Pay.


It's out with smelly bean bags and in with eco-caring bunk beds. Poodles, Labradors and mutts with a modern sensibility all agreed that do-good design is the big buzz in canine comfort. A host of designers took part in the Johannesburg leg of the Cool beds for Haute Dogs' design initiative in support of SA Guide-Dogs for the Blind. All funds go towards the training of the Labrador puppy Gulliver as a guide-dog.
Winning the title Top Dog Designer is Visi Magazine's Annemarie Meintjes. Her avant-garde creation ‘Bunk Bed with storage facilities' turned a discarded crate into canine camouflage comfort. Meintjes, an expert on dustbin decor, has been following zero waste principles long before recessionistas took up the cause. Yellow cable ties were the only element bought new - everything else was re-used and re-created, with the assistance of Astrid van der Heim as upholsterer. A tattered attaché case-turned-storage facility housed the doggie's favourite things: from biltong to a reflective jacket and a whistle for walkies.

Winning the highest bid was interior designer Desmond Archibald whose creation entitled ‘Any Dog can be a Poodle' in pink faux fur and black leatherette was the must-have of the show.


This on-going initiative led by the dti is firmly established as the country's definitive craft trade expo. Other project partners include the provincial departments of economic development and of arts and culture. Co-locating with Decorex Joburg for its 2nd year, the creations in the 2009 Collection was a particularly colourful blend of tradition and trends, a midway meeting between the rich South African cultural heritage and aspects of the future; a successful partnership between creativity and business know-how. Aimed at local and international buyers, this collection - representing all provinces in South Africa - was a showcase of the highest quality, eco-caring products designed and made with the utmost care and dedication.
Best Provincial Stand:
Mpumalanga - Bronze
Northwest - Silver
Western Cape - Gold

Best Product:
Mystical Creations - Bronze
Itlhabolole - Silver
Casamento - Gold

Best New Product (debuted at the show):
Tori Stowe

Best Individual Stand:
Heartfelt - Bronze
Reinette Katzoff - Silver
Aid to Artisans - Gold

Highest Sales at show:
Western Cape Province

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