The living room lowdown
We’ve scanned the design field for every must-have element to create a living room to lust after.
Serving multiple functions, the living room (in our opinion) is a high-use, high-value room in any home. It’s where we gather most often to relax as well as where we often welcome guests, where the family mooches around and where we often spend the most money on big-ticket items. This versatile space has a few key items that make up the whole which we’ve rounded up below, selecting the brands and pieces that stand out as well as those that are new or just plain thoughtful for this critical space.
Seating, particularly chairs, have garnered the most fame in the furniture stakes, with the names Panton, Cesca, Malawi, Adirondack and Barcelona all becoming cult classics. Beyond just providing a functional perch though, the form they take varies widely from one designer to the next.
Contemporary luxe is how we’d describe Studio 19’s aesthetic, with honesty and simplicity a constant driver of the pieces they design and manufacture. Their seating often includes curved silhouettes which lend each chair or sofa an element of subtle elegance. The latest additions to their furniture range, for example, use generous curves and soft finishes to embrace the sitter.
La Grange Interiors
This is a brand that has nailed the pared-back luxe look and has a reputation for their wicker furniture too, preferring to stick to muted tones, honest textures and understated yet carefully thought-out forms. From generous linen-covered armchairs and sofas and upholstered lounge chairs with thoughtful forms to Scandi inspired dining chairs and beautifully proportioned oak occasional chairs, you can expect both comfort and quality from every one of their timeless seating options.
Meyer von Wielligh
This George-based furniture workshop is a multiple award-winner for its innovative furniture designs. For owners Abrie and Norman, integrity to materials and design that draws from nature are integral to the pieces their studio creates. From barstools right up to sofas, their seating collection is honest, understated and speaks of its natural origins with meticulous jointing and hand carved details exposing the inherent qualities of the wood they choose to work with.
Founder Genevieve Pienaar has had her fair share of experience working in the interior architecture and design field in London. When she returned home to SA and opened Salt Design Store it was with the aim of providing a platform for incomparable local and international design where quality and craftsmanship are the hero. Their seating features iconic designs from the likes of MENU with names like Ib Kofod-Larsen and Rui Alves in its stable, all of them celebrated for their simplicity and timelessness.
With sustainability, artisanship and conscious design underpinning their global collective of homeware and accessories, this is a brand whose products we find hard to resist. From antique Bergere chairs to Eero Saarinen Tulip Chairs, much of their seating comprises vintage finds which the team relishes, carefully restoring and reupholstering them. “There is something unique about vintage finds, the nostalgia appeals to our sense of design,” says owner Lisa Storer.
TABLES & STORAGE
A place to gather and a place to gather your things, tables and storage are as essential in our daily lives as food and water. But beyond their role in serving us, think of them as functional art, a place to display prized books, objet artworks.
Meyer von Wielligh
In keeping with their dedication to crafting stories through nature-inspired design, Meyer von Wielligh’s Instomi Sideboard scooped them the 100% Design winner for best furniture, honouring the lifeblood of the oak tree from which it was created. Likewise, their Umthi collection – taken from the Xhosa word for tree – is cued by the organic curvilinear forms of tree branches, allowing the wood to guide the final design.
With functional design and quality high on their agenda, Salt’s tables and storage feature fine detailing and space-saving solutions that translate into versatile and elegant pieces with clean silhouettes. Whether shelf, desk or coffee table, these are the kind of timeless pieces that make for future heirlooms.
Less is more. That’s the philosophy that inspired this 100% local brand and what continues to underpin their designs. Locally crafted right here in SA to the highest standards, their table range doesn’t compete for attention, but conveys an understated sophistication with clean lines and a love of honest materials like oak, walnut, linen or stainless steel. They also stock an impressive array of hard-to-find benches and ottomans to fill that awkward spot.
Accessories are a big-ticket component for their ability to bring character and atmosphere to a room. If selected and styled with a sharp eye, these accoutrements can convey your unique style and become the defining elements in your interior.
Cabo Vintage Prints
Undeniably one of the hottest names in wall art at the moment, Cabo specialises in vintage prints that are digitally enhanced from original 18th and 19th-century illustrations and made available in a range of sizes. Fuelled by their passion for the history of the Cape and discovery of the region’s early naturalists, this brand speaks to lovers of a nostalgic aesthetic with a sharply curated selection of ornithological, biological, marine, historic and geographic prints.
Beautiful, useful objects for everyday living is what sums up Salt’s accessories collection. Sourced internationally as well as locally, the range includes ceramics, throws and homeware of exceptional craft and quality. Their City Shapes and Mended Vessels collections for example feature pieces by prominent SA artists Lizrae Meyer and Berlin-based Tara Deacon who’ve produced a range of ceramics and a collection of throws respectively.
Experimenting with both form and colour, Lisa Twyman’s playful range of furniture and homeware launched just last year is underpinned by the philosophy: buy once, buy well. All of the pieces she sells are designed inhouse and produced locally, with a goal to stimulate the SA design industry. Distinctive in their form and texture, Lisa’s own ceramics constitute functional art pieces, while her abstract and figurative art prints (painted in oils and then digitally reproduced onto fine art paper) bring unexpected texture and patina to the room.
Not only is their large selection of homeware and accessories irresistible for its originality and handcrafted appeal, but their homeware pieces – sourced from the likes of Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Morocco – are likely ones you won’t find anywhere else. We’re talking Tamegroute ceramics, woven baskets with unique forms and details, hand blown glassware and hand-loomed cactus silk cushions. They’ve recently begun working with a host of local brands too on a unique range of SA products.
Beyond its illuminating powers, we love the ability of lighting to inject warmth and atmosphere into a room, not to mention how a well-designed light can read as an art piece or sculpture.
Delicious hues and unexpected silhouettes sum up this Durban designer’s small but impactful lighting collection. Made locally, the SS2021 range includes two pendants and two table lamps that find their expression through an interplay of geometry. The finer details like brass switches, fabric cords and contrasting colour combos are all part of the allure of this covetable collection.
With their roots in lighting and accessories, Studio 19 has gradually expanded their offering to a complete interior design service. But their lighting is still one of the major pull factors in our book. Simple silhouettes, honest materials and a retro undercurrent pervade this collection which encompasses table lamps, pendants, ceiling and wall lights.
Meyer von Wielligh
With names like the Leaf Standing Lamp, Umthi Hanging Lamp and Beehive Chandelier, it’s clear to see where Meyer von Wielligh takes its design cue from. Inspired by the brand’s context: its natural surrounds and cultural influences, their lights incorporate elements of Acacia tree thorns, branches and leaf silhouettes. These expressive forms are created by hand using sustainable woods and aim to honour the tree’s original form.
Sophisticated, elegant and sculptural, Salt’s hand-picked lighting range features some heavyweight European designers, all of whom stand for craftsmanship and enduring style. The range includes everything from pendants, wall lights and table lamps to track lighting and standing lamps. Our personal favourite though is their selection of table lamps, easy to manoeuvre – these small luminaries produce a wonderful glow that creates instant mood.
Rugs pack a major punch when it comes to pulling a room together and creating that hard-to-force lived-in feel. The following two brands get our vote for their love of artisanal methods and traditional designs.
Geography, social and cultural heritage, environment and contextual materials all inform the fabric of Herringbone’s handwoven rugs. For founder Sarah Craig, the impetus is on uplifting the makers of her rugs whether local or international, thereby protecting the industry and the story of craft globally. Her collection is sourced from the far corners of the globe (think Argentina, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, North Africa, Afghanistan, Italy, India and the Karoo) and comprises of both new and vintage rugs in a wide array of materials. Despite our neutral focus here, Herringbone’s offering boasts bold patterns and colours too, so worth hopping over to their website for a browse.
Expect authentic, handwoven boho vibes from The Storer’s ever-changing stable of rugs. Sourced predominantly from Morocco, their selection of beni ourains, kilims, boujads, azilals and more offers the homeowner a distinctly eclectic appeal and features handwoven and knotted designs created in the traditional way (passed down through the generations) in wool using all-natural dyes.