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Meet 100% Design South Africa’s featured designer, Renée Rossouw

Nurturing future stars and growing the design industry lies at the heart of the ethos behind 100% Design South Africa, which takes place from 6 to 10 August 2015 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, alongside Decorex Joburg.

South Africa’s only international design show, 100% Design South Africa, in conjunction with headline sponsor Dauphin HumanDesign® Group, promises to enthrall visitors with its superbly curated displays and a lineup that comprises top global design brands alongside local design stars.

In addition to the established South African names and international design luminaries participating at this leading design show, some of the country’s brightest young talents are given a platform to showcase their work.

Each year the curators, Creative Director Laurence Brick and Programme Director Cathy O’Clery, choose a designer whom they see as a future design leader.

Last year it was Cape Town-based surface designer and artist Atang Tshikare, a self-developed multidisciplinary artist whose work combines line drawing and street art, working across mediums from pencil and marker to acrylic and aerosol.

This year’s featured designer is Renée Rossouw, a recently graduated architect who is already making an impact on the design scene with her bold, colourful graphic patterns applied to a variety of surfaces, from furniture to wallpaper.

Also based in Cape Town, Rossouw founded Renee Rossouw Studio, a South African Patternlab, in 2013, with the objective of creating a “new South African aesthetic”. It’s a term she uses to “design for an African future in which I attempt to make work through research and processes, inspired by and for South Africa – bold colours, graphic shapes and growing cities…a hybrid of all our cultures.”


 As the featured designer at 100% Design South Africa 2015, Rossouw will be revealing a brand new portfolio of designs and products. We asked her…


Being chosen as this year’s featured designer must feel like yet another high among a string of recent successes?

It definitely came as a surprise to be chosen, but what a great opportunity. And (as a Cape Town-based designer), I’ve never really connected with Johannesburg, which is quite new and exciting for the Patternlab.


Can you recap some of the highlights since graduating?

  1. Speaking at the Design Indaba 2014 conference as a postgraduate. It was very scary but I think it introduced my work to a larger audience. I’ve also been a huge fan of the conference and its speakers for years, so it was surreal to be on that stage.
  2. I absolutely loved working with the creative energy of Yanni Vosloo and his Mr. Price Home team on a winter blanket for the Colab Collection. The winter blankets were made for a good cause, they were affordable, and the whole process was really creative. I was pretty mesmerised when I was sent the colour samples to choose from. Colour is a huge passion of mine.
  3. Doing the artwork for this year’s Oppikoppi (music festival) really pushed me into exploring another side of creative work. I painted abstractly and explored a few cool processes to get to the final result. And I used my favourite four primary colours.


What does having the spotlight on you and your work at 100% Design SA mean for you and the next step(s) in your career?

To be honest, this is the first time I will be doing something like this so I’m not sure what the reception will be. But I am super excited to have the privilege of a big platform on which to debut my new pattern range and products. It would be awesome to connect with other designers, too. So far my career has taken me on a journey in itself, so I’ll just wait to see what happens next!


What have been some of your biggest influences as a designer?

My biggest influences have been my childhood obsessions with Lego, world flags and maps. I still collect Lego, although it’s not the same anymore! And I could look at world flags for days. It all comes back to that. Studying architecture also inspired a bigger interest in the detail and urban grain of South African cities.


What have been some of the biggest challenges?

Essentially I want my Patternlab to be representative of the South African public at large but my products are mostly received as niche because, unfortunately, good production comes at a price. So my challenges are very typical to every South African designer: how to make money doing what you love for an audience that you hope would be bigger, because the manufacturing industry is so small.


Your thoughts on where South African design is at from a global, and local, perspective right now?

As a very independent country, so much great stuff has been happening here for years, but technology and global saturation have turned all eyes onto Africa. We have been ready for a long time.


What can we expect from your new collection at 100% Design South Africa?

The new pattern range will be applied to two new products, made on a large scale to fill rooms and act as art pieces. The patterns themselves are still bold and very graphic, but there will be a subtler black-and-white version, too.

I might be repeating myself here, but I want to create work that represents South Africa as country of energy, patterns and colour, and therefore I hope my work can always adhere to that.


What’s next for you?

I also work part-time as an architect so with the Patternlab I am fortunate to choose carefully which projects I work on. I generally take my time to ensure that it’s work that I’m proud of. I choose projects that allow me to continually develop my skill as a pattern designer or work on products that the market needs. I’m always happy if I complete a new pattern range so after 100% Design South Africa I will probably start working on another one!