I can’t recall if it was Colbert or Stewart—though on second thought it seems perhaps it was Bill Maher—who commented recently that “Nelson Mandela has to buy a new shirt… maybe you haven’t heard, but apartheid is over and you can shop at J. Crew now.” The joke lampoons our ignorance of African culture as much as it does Mr. Mandela’s preference for a signature “look,” but South African designer Natalie du Toit addresses both issues with recent work for her company Indigi Designs.
Furniture Collection by Natalie du Toit. Designed and Manufactured by Indigi Designs.
Indigi Designs Synthesizes Fine Craft and Bold Aesthetics
The collection smacks a little of what we Westerners might know as stereotypically “African”—that is to say, vibrant colors in striking juxtapositions and bold fabrics with tribal patterns. But du Toit’s furnishings also work toward defamiliarization. Her recent collection joins fine woodworking and metalwork to bright swirls of blues, yellows, and reds.
The auspicious effort takes the form of a matching desk and lamp featuring wooden joinery of bulbous knots and globes. There’s a certain evocation here of primitive African art, but du Toit undercuts the reference with the accompanying adornments: respectively, a wire basket, wire stool, and wire lamp. The latter elements take on the aforementioned palette of red, blue, and yellow, as they also provide a textural contrast to the finely honed wood of the desk and lamp.
The last piece of du Toit’s formidable front is her penchant for colorful fabric in intricate patterns. The upholstery on the stool, for instance, is a deep hypnotic blue punctuated with a profusion of “eyes” in black and green. The pattern evokes nothing so much as a peacock’s feathers, which, like much of du Toit’s work, serves as a potent reminder of the fantastic within the mundane.
Via Cool Hunting
About the Designer: Natalie du Toit not only takes her aesthetic hints from nature, but also from the vibrancy of the human life that surrounds her every day: “I am inspired by a lot of things—inspiration is everywhere you look—it’s just a matter of perspective. I am very inspired by the beautiful, diverse and energetic country I live in and take cues from nature, our cultures and our history.” Said country happens to be South Africa, where, after working her way up through the ranks of interior design, du Toit established her own company, Indigi Designs. Her new collection recently debuted at Design Indaba in Cape Town where her deft synthesis of traditional African motifs and fine wood craftsmanship won multiple accolades.