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Extra Virgin -  April 2010

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Home As the foreign fans flock in, it’s nice to wipe down the soccer tinted glasses to note that South Africa has made its mark on the world in more diverse arenas than just the sporting ones.

For example, there’s the ‘Boerewors’ t-shirt currently available in Canada which states ‘Nine out of ten South African women agree: Boerewors, thick or thin, is more satisfying than a Canadian wiener’, and the fact that a News Café branch has opened up in New Delhi, India. On a more upscale culinary kudos note, Cape Town’s La Colombe has been named the 12th best restaurant in the world in according to British Restaurant magazine.

Ok, I’ll concede, none of the above can strictly be referred to as ‘home décor’ unless you’re planning on going online and buying up a stock of ‘Boerewors’ t-shirts to sew into cushion covers (a funky way to give extra life to old favourites which are too holey to wear and too sentimental to chuck, by the way).

However, you might be tempted to take design inspiration from the new, exclusive club and restaurant that’s opening in London’s Camden this month. It’s called Shaka Zulu, features a 15m tall bronze statue of the man himself looming over the doorway, and a uniquely South African interior décor scheme estimated to have cost R24-million. Maybe this is a tad beyond your budget, and quite possibly, enormous hand-carved wooden panels of African landscapes are not really your thing, but it’s nice to know that they’re out there somewhere (especially seeing as we don’t have to dust them).


Now we at home know that there’s more to South African interior design than images of kudus painted on giant eggshells, but we do just have to embrace the fact that it’s the animal figurines that make the folks from abroad all gooey. I can assure you that all departing flights from South Africa in July will feature a bristling sea of wooden giraffe heads, and who knows how many beaded wire meerkats and rhinos will be gracing the mantelpieces of Europe in the months to come? It’s a warming thought.

So with this in mind, perhaps it’s time to bring some overseas inspiration into our own homes…go on, get out there and buy a wooden giraffe. They have great lines, a whimsical attitude, and are perfect for putting into difficult corners. I recently spotted one painted all over in matt white and the result was very stylish, if a little ghostly. Beaded wire napkin rings are charming, and papier-mâché bowls plastered in pilchard labels are a classic, but if this is all just too touristy, I urge you to take a peek at the exquisite furniture design at Klooftique in Kloof Street, or Zinza in Hyde Park Centre for some breathtaking examples of South African design.

If the foreigners can do it, so can we: embrace local design, support our artisans, buy locally produced goodies and ditch the fear of looking like a tourist.