Homegrown Creatives: Meet Nina & Michelle from Room 13 Design

Very excited to share this post today – Nina and Michelle are two VERY talented sisters who run Room 13 Design – the creative studio behind some spectacular work with well-known local brands, and a team whose work I am just in complete awe of! But please don’t take my word on it, see for yourself…
Who are you and what do you do / make / sell? 

We are Nina and Michelle van Reenen from Room 13 Design, a graphic design agency in Cape Town. We have recently launched our textile and wallpaper “sister company” called Room 13 Collection,  designing and producing interior products, such as wallpaper, textiles, cushions and table cloths.Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?

It’s been a natural progression from being designers, to wanting to create our own products. Something that we could have in our own homes.

What makes your work / products / services unique?

Our focus is on attention to detail. We love crafted designs, and we definitely have a Room 13 ‘design flavour’. We always strive to offer something that is top quality. The Collection has been very carefully curated in terms of pattern, colour and application, so one can combine different elements and patterns together.  This range is quite unique in the fact that all our designs are available as textiles or wallpaper. The collection is also very versatile in terms of using the patterns for both adults and kids spaces.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Every day life, our kids, blogs. South African designers are also very inspirational, there is so much talent!

Who are your creative idols?

Jenna LyonsLi Edelkoort, Fabien Baron, Marc Atlan, Charles and Ray Eames.

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?

We both have kids, so we are really home bodies, but we love going away for weekends – Paternoster. But El Burro is always a firm favourite!

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?

We would both love to go back to New York and India has been also a great inspiration, Mexico, Bali – we cannot get enough of traveling overseas, but saying that we would also love to explore our own continent.

How does a typical day for you play out?

All work and no play!

With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?

As little as possible! I’d probably meet up with a friend or see two movies back to back! Some me time. A Spa day and a lunch at Ellerman House. Perhaps a night in the Villa, if that’s not too much to ask.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?

A fine artist or a psychologist? A professional dare devil!

Where can we stalk you?

Design –  www.room13.co.za
Collection –  www.room13collection.co.za / hello@room13collection.co.za
Twitter: @RoomThirteen
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/room13design

What does your workspace / studio look like?

Have a look at our website - http://room13.co.za/us/

What it the work/design/product/project you are most proud of to date?

Our work for Spier Wine Farm. Gumede wedding invite – something we designed through Gavin Rajah.

sp4-511x400spir_sig_trade_present2-510x40041-510x40052-510x400Screen-Shot-2013-01-19-at-10.53.31-PM-588x400p-2harryco-510x400G_7-510x4004rgsdsust_ill2-510x4001_Demorgenzon_box-510x4001_luck-510x4001_wallp1-510x400muscles-680x4006-510x400Wallp_ophelia_red_wide-562x562 cushion_botanical_red1-562x562(obsessed with this botanical print – you may recognise it from my recent Dining Room Makeover Mood Board post!)


Piggly Wiggly parkrun – Free Weekly 5km Timed Run

I’ve heard people on Twitter going on about “parkrun” for a while now and figured it was a Jo’burg thing, until recently when I discovered that it’s actually national with events all over SA. Basically, local sponsors host the events and participants of all ages, shapes and fitness levels sign up to come along and run a timed 5-kay. Results are emailed to you and you can find out all sorts of interesting info and running stats on the parkrun website…

AND NOW, parkrun is coming to The Midlands! This weekend in fact :)

Why am I excited about this? I’m not sure. There must definitely be something in the air because let me just say that I AM NOT A RUNNER. I always joke and say that if I ever had to run for my life, I would literally die.

I’ve never been very good at it (picture the girl who always came last on school sports days), but I would love to get into it. So I’ve decided I’m going to start “training” (that word makes me LOL and cry at the same time) from next week.

In my garden.

Where no one can see me doing the Pheobe run. (Friends fans will know what I mean!)

I’ll probably give it a few weeks before I hit a parkrun event – mostly because I am that unfit and don’t want to bite off more than I can chew – but really looking forward to the challenge and welcome any beginners running tips? Anyone?!

For more info on parkrun (starting this weekend) check out image below and visit: http://www.parkrun.co.za/pigglywiggly/


Homegrown Creatives: Meet Jen from Jen Jen


Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?
My name is Jen Mckenzie – I am an Interior Designer, Artist, Illustrator and all round DIY-er. I am the creator, owner, designer, production manager, manufacturer, sales and dispatch at Jen Jen, where we make small collectable art pieces and are slowly building up the brand to encompass all things home décor.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
I have always been a creative person, but it was after I studied Interior Design that I realized what I wanted to achieve. The road I have been on to get me to where I am today has been so fun – I have met some of the most insanely talented people and have designed things that I never thought I would get the opportunity to do. This has superseded anything I ever could have dreamt of doing.

What makes your work / products / services unique?
My products / designs have a very specific signature style. The square block concept is something that you are seeing everywhere these days, so I work really hard to ensure my designs are original and unique and that the quality of the print itself is impeccable.

Where do you look for inspiration?
There are so many different avenues for inspiration. But, mainly, my inspiration comes from what’s on-trend (colors, patterns, shapes, imagery… etc) the quotes I come across, typography, the people I meet and the “corny answer” – everything that we are surrounded by in South African. My sketch book gets filled with all sorts of new ideas after each day’s adventure.

Who are your creative idols?
I wouldn’t say I have any idols per say, but there are so many people whose work I find absolutely incredible and I only wish I could come up with concepts and pieces that are as creative and interesting. Oliver Jeffers , Marc Johns , Danielle Kroll and Sean McCabe .. to name a few, looking at the work they produce inspires me to push my style further then my sketchy black lines

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?
My absolute favorite is to ‘escape’ the city and go back home to the Natal Midlands – I’m a farm girl. But when I’m hanging out in Durbs I love to go to coffee shops ( New on the block – Savior Coffee Co. – you have to visit! ) Vintage and Antique stores – I have an obsession with blue and white teacups – or Market on Marriott Road, they have the best food, best wine and best vibe and its 2 minutes down the road – how convenient.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?
I would love to explore every single inch of Europe. The history and the Architecture – swoon!! France, Italy, Greece and Spain in particular. If I could click my fingers and go back in time – it would be back to the Trevi fountain eating Gelato

How does a typical day for you play out?
After hitting the snooze button a few too many times, it’s a mad dash to get to my day job as an Interior designer / Space Planner at Cecil Nurse business furniture – where I work from 8 – 4:30. Once I’m home and back in my studio I work on new concepts for designs, freelance design work and making sure all my orders get made up. Then it is back to bed – the best place to be!

With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?
I would sleep in – no questions asked. And after that, I am not really too sure because I quite like having a to-do list, but that unlimited budget would buy me a lot of shoes.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
A Secret Agent!! But I would never have it any other way!

Where can we stalk you?
Website: http://www.jenjen.co.za
Instagram: @jenjen_est2011
Facebook: facebook.com/jenjendesignstudio
Email: jenzmck@gmail.com

What does your workspace / studio look like?
I like to think of it as Organized Chaos. My studio is in the third bedroom in my apartment, in an old Art Deco building – so it already has plenty character. The walls are dark blue ( Plascon Dusk of Day – get involved, best color!) and there is a picture rail that runs the perimeter of the room, so anything and everything that can be hung from it – is hung from it. I work at a vintage ball and claw dressing table, my cupboard is full of boxes of stock, and I have a big workbench where all the prints are made up. This room is where the Magic happens.

What it the work/design/product/project you are most proud of to date?
It’s hard to select just that one thing I’m most proud of – I’m always surprised and proud of the way my customs prints turn out. But most recently I am most proud of my Stand at the ECR House and Garden show and a sketch from my 15 day drawing challenge, after its sell out performance at the I Heart Market on Saturday.



Stop calling me on the phone – an article by Benjamin Law

This article was basically written for/about me – I HATE talking on the phone, and from a young age can remember being traumatised by the idea. I was not the kind of teen who could comfortably hog the line for hours chatting to mates. I realise that I sometimes need to put my big girl panties on and face it every now and then (especially for work, some clients prefer to talk about their ideas rather than writing them down in an email etc) but some of the ‘rules’ in this post are pretty spot on.


As an aside, I also prefer work related conversations, requests, ideas etc to be in writing – so much easier to refer back to and have a record of exactly what was said and when.

Also, I’m not a freak, generally if you are a friend I don’t mind a quick chat ;) Likewise if you are the National Lottery calling to let me know I’ve won.

And lastly, do not even get me started on the torture that is SKYPE…

tumblr_n10n3wfcrl1st5lhmo1_1280{ here’s a pretty picture of a cactus By Oliver Pacas }

Dining Room Makeover – My Inspiration

This is the vibe I’m feeling for our new dining room – dark rich, colours – gold accents – frames, mirrors, beautiful artwork, bold lighting and moody florals/botanical prints…


Obsessed with dark walls filled with contrasting framed pictures and art as a gallery wall – swoon – and I think the lighting project I’m working on will be perfect for the room (very high ceilings so space-wise, we can afford to go BIG!)

I’m also just a little bit in love with this big tropical bird painting that I won at an auction last week for just R300!





My DIY Chandelier Lighting Idea (really hope it works!)

The Inspiration:

sutherland-lightsWooden chandelier type hanging orbs of goodness – circa R4500 from Sutherlands Home Furniture (not on the website unfortunately, I snapped this badly lit pic on my phone in their Howick warehouse)

Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t feel comfortable spending that amount on one light alone, so pretty much gave up on the idea of these hanging orbs ever making it into my dining room as a lighting feature, UNTIL…

I came across two of these yesterday, rusting away in a second hand shop in PMB (R140 each):

cleverbirdbanterdiylightingAnd now I’m totally going to attempt to recreate the original look that I love, with a more budget friendly (but equally as impressive) version – watch this space!


DIY: All Natural Honey Citrus Sugar Scrub


I’ve been meaning to make one of the scrubs for weeks now and finally got round to it today – since starting pottery classes a few months ago, and because of all the packing and moving, unpacking etc, my hands have really taken a knock and are feeling pretty rough and grotty. No amount of standard hand cream is helping so I’m hoping this rich oil-based scrub will do the trick.

Seeing as I’m obsessed with all the fruit and veg growing in my new garden these days (sorry instagram folk, I know you are pretty sick of seeing the amazing avos already!) I tried to think of what I already had that I could use in my scrub and decided to try an orange scent / flavour for a change (I’m usually more of a ‘vanilla/coffee/cocoa smell’ kind of girl!) You don’t have to use orange either – lemon, lime and even grapefruit zest would work beautifully as an alternative.

Mix 1 cup of white granulated sugar with 1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon of honey + 2 teaspoons of grated zest from one medium orange, and voila! An easy all-natural scrub for hands and body (intended for use on my hands specifically as mentioned, but I actually ended up using it in the bath last after shaving my legs and it was glorious!)

My hands already feel better – going to keep on using it regularly – and I’m loving the fresh orange-y scent floating around all day.

Easy, inexpensive and natural – WIN!

(This isn’t actually the first scrub I’ve ever made by the way, but I think it’s better!)




Homegrown Creatives: Meet Graeme Bettles

So, today is my birthday everyone – I really won’t be bleak if you all chip in and buy me a Shy Lamp from Graeme Bettles? -But wait! Scratch that. I’d like a Shy Lamp AND a Sitting Lamp – too much genious I say! Lighting with personality – and so much more! Read on…


Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?

My name is Graeme Bettles. I’m a product designer based in Cape Town and we make, to date, character inspired products with more exciting ranges to follow.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?

Not at all. I actually have a degree in brand communication and have been an Art Director in above the line Advertising agencies for the last 7.5 years. That being said, I have always had a passion for ideas and I suppose the two disciplines are not that different-  fresh thinking to solve some sort of problem. Be it an advertising client or designing a new light the similarities are there.

What makes your work / products / services unique?

The creative process is something that’s constantly evolving. You may have a certain interest or source of inspiration now. In two years time what inspires you may well be very different. Currently I’m intrigued by the idea of mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar. Finding a point at which two seemingly unrelated ideas meet to create something new and exciting. At the moment, I suppose the unique aspect of our work is bringing a human/character element into everyday products. We want the client to feel a familiar emotion through a different form.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I tend to find my inspiration in people and new ideas rather than wading through magazines full of products.

Ted talks, Design Indaba speakers, my kids, watching people interact with the world everyday… it needs to become second nature. What we do is not only about making something beautiful, it should be about putting forward a new idea, something that may then go on to inspire someone else to create something of their own. Creativity is funny like that. It all feeds off of something and then back around again.

Who are your creative idols?

I really respect and admire the people working hard trying to make it. The big design names are established, and have proven themselves. But there are some great young South African designers that keep me driven and excited to see some big things coming out of our country.

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?

Kalk Bay is a great place to chill in the summer months, Otherwise getting out of town to Betty’s Bay or Stanford is fantastic.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?

My happy place would be the most remote parts of the world. The most untouched, unfamiliar places. Antarctica, Kilimanjaro, The Okavango Delta.

How does a typical day for you play out?

Wake up, get ready, take kids to school. Head down and work. Realise its 5pm already, fetch kids, crazy hour(s), relax a bit. Work more. Sleep. Repeat.

With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?

Buy a factory and just make all the products pinned on my wall probably. Or maybe take a quick trip to space. Either will do ;)

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?

Exactly what I’m doing now.

Where can we stalk you?

My website address is graemebettlesdesign.com
email graemebettlesdesign@gmail.com
Twitter @GBDesign_sa,
Instagram Gbettles
and you can follow me at Graeme Bettles on Pinterest.

What does your workspace / studio look like? 

Lets just say my house looks more like my workspace/studio right now. Sorry family.

What it the work/design/product/project you are most proud of to date?

The sitting lamp has done fantastically well but we have just launched a new lamp called the Shy lamp. Check it out on the site.

sitting lamp shade A1side profile-logo3quarter shot-logo10431500_718779224830612_3210335378308424996_n


Quick & Easy Lemon Curd Recipe

Yesterday I shared some of my marmalade making tips and the recipe I used for my first ever attempt at it, and I’m super excited to share another recipe today for the amazing and easy lemon curd I tried that same day. When I say it was DE-LISH-OUS, that is basically an understatement. Have a gander and PLEASE try it out and share your thoughts on it (I’m look at you, Belinda - what did you do with all those lemons?!)



  • 4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice

  • 200g unrefined caster sugar

  • 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

  • 3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk

Preparation method

  1. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

TIP: this recipe didn’t actually make that much (what is shown in the jar in the picture above is basically all of it) so double up if you are planning to make more for gifts etc and use any leftover egg whites for meringues :)


Like-on-Facebook{ link to original lemon curd recipe }