Category Archives: Iconic Design

Happy Anniversary Rabbit

The 1970’s is a period close to my heart, not only it is the decade of my birth it is also the decade which inspired an automobile icon. In South Africa you will see VW Citi Golfs in abundance- every street, parking area or downtown area is filled with different models, colours and conditions. It is in many ways one of the icons for me of the 1970’s, a period which is characterised by  contradiction. A number of key events impacted on the era including the energy crisis, the Cuban missile crisis, the woman’s liberation movement, the Yom Kippur war, the Helsinki Accords, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm (1972) and the South African student uprisings. These events influenced popular culture of the era as well as design styles.  The rise of technology and computing created a new world to explore. During the 1970’s the first microprocessor was released, as well as the programming languages, and basic home computers like the Apple II and the Commodore PET. Video games became very popular, with Atari establishing itself as the principal producer of home video games.

In 1974, the first Golf, which would eventually become known as the Rabbit in North America, leaves the factory floor. It would take another 5 years before the car is produced in North America though. The design of the car reflects a more energy conscious society with a focus on fun, humour and economy. The physical design moves to a more angular aesthetic with straighter lines and a rectangular grill section. The Golf I was introduced in South Africa in 1978. In 1984 the Citi model, based on the Golf Mk I, went into production at VW’s plant in Uitenhage. From 1984 to 2009, the plant in Uitenhage produced almost 380 000 Citi Golfs. In November 2009 the last Citi left the production floor, replaced by production of the VW Polo. In 2008 the 1.4i Citi Wolf is introduced at the Johannesburg Motorshow and the in 2009 the Citi Mk 1  is produced in limited numbers to mark the end of production of the Citi. On 2 November 2009 a design icon is retired, but not forgotten. Look down any street, driveway or across any town square and you’ll see it.

Happy anniversary Rabbit.



Symbolising democracy

During August 2013 I had the privilege to develop content for the inaugural Open Design Cape Town festival. Part of the festival included a comprehensive exhibition covering topics of design for mobility, sustainability, education, medical applications and icons of South African design. One of the design examples selected for the icons exhibition was the typeface designed by Garth Walker for the Constitutional Court. I love the simplicity and imbedded narrative, which characterises this graphic solution.

The Constitutional Court Typeface , designed in 2003 was used for external and internal signage for the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. The typeface represents to celebration of environmental context and heritage. The site, which includes the  Apartheid-era prison building signage, graffiti, letters and other graphic elements from the site  provided the inspiration and aestetic form.  The final design can be seen on the face of the Court, in all 11 official languages in the colours of the national flag.

First he had to get familiar with the direct surroundings of the Constitutional Court. The following graffiti/letters on the right were found in and around the jail cells and documented through the means of photography. In places one can clearly see the disintegration and erosion of wall paint over the years and how this affects the shape and character of the letters. Garth Walker found this fascinating and wanted to capture these unique characteristics and ‘look and feel’ for his original typeface.


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The Five | Beyond by Lexus


I find that a great story inspires me to look at the world differently and believe in optimistic possibilities. This is such a story… An amazing exploration of work by 5 designers doing things differntly. Pernilla Ohrstedt – a London based architect, Alain Lee – an Industrial Designer from Taipei, Leo Villareal – a lighting artist from New York, Kenmei Nagaoka – a designer and retailer from Tokyo and Kate Stokes – product designer from Melbourne. For more information regarding their work, visit the Five | Beyond by Lexus page.

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Designers & Books: What Are Designers Reading?

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For the love of books.

I love books. For many years I held multiple part time jobs to ensure I could feed my paper addiction. Fiction, real life and poetry were my bread and butter, art and design my passion. I always wonder what the icons of design have on their coffee table or what their ‘go to’ book is for inspiration or solace. Designers and Books is an amazing insight, a literary portal into the office, lounge and bookshelves of today’s key designers.  Have a browse, be inspired


Zulu Mama Chair | Haldane Martin

Zulu Mama Chair | Haldane Martin

“The iconic Zulu Mama Chair is an integration of South Africa’s first and third world reality by combining indigenous Zulu basket weaving craft with modern materials. The basket seat expresses the archetypal feminine activity of gathering, an appropriate gesture for indoor and outdoor café seating. The weaving work contributes to the economic empowerment of township crafters. The frames are made from rustproof, 60% recycled stainless steel and can be finished in a variety of powder coated colours or polished stainless steel. The UV stable polyethylene plastic weaving material is also available in various colours. The black coloured plastic is made from recycled factory waste.”

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