The Etsy video team has invited experimental and documentary filmmakers to contribute to our original video series, Handmade Portraits, Process and There’s No Place Like Here. Ashka Wierzycka is a South African producer and director based in New York City. She’s currently working on a short documentary in Montauk, NY and spending way too much time staring out the window when she should be editing.
As a long-time fan of Heather Moore (a.k.a skinnylaminx) and her blog, I was excited to meet up with the designer in the spectacularly beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa. Funny, informed and passionate, Heather is an entertaining guide. South African design has undergone something of a quiet revolution and there is a lot of really unique work being produced at the tip of the African continent.
Between running her fabric design label and blogging about her favorite local and international design, Heather has little time to spare. It was a privilege to spend a little time at her home and studio, observing her process in detail. Her urge to create is wedded to her desire to collect, a formula that results in a home that is a genuine expression of her organic flow of ideas.
What’s wonderful about Heather’s space is its inspired mix of high and low objects — bargain-bin vintage fabrics and adorable plastic animals acquired for a few cents confidently rub shoulders with outstanding antique ceramics and beautiful Scandinavian furniture. It’s all assembled with such a sure touch and loving precision, that it feels both completely accidental and somehow absolutely perfect.
This ability to recognize the finer qualities of an object — regardless of its price tag — is central to Heather’s creative outlook. Many of the humble “treasures” she has rescued over the years have found their way onto her fabrics. Her collection of vintage jugs and pots has been converted into a beautiful frieze-like cutout pattern that decorates a range of cushion covers; and a small hen from one of her mugs surely shares some of its DNA with a popular Skinny laMinx teatowel design, “Birds.”
Heather spoke movingly about how, as a self-trained designer, her first inspiration was the intrinsic loveliness of the objects around her. This is such an inspiring idea, especially in a time when design can seem so rooted in passing fads and divorced from the realities of daily life. One of the Skinny laMinx designs that I personally love the most is her Sevilla Rock range; inspired by the ancient San rock paintings in the Cedarburg Mountains of Western Cape. Though the paintings were created by the San people thousands of years ago, their wonderful poise and life-like grace make them seem completely relevant and contemporary on Skinny laMinx’s fabrics. And that is no surprise — good design is good design, even if it is 3,000 years old.
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