Fashion Blooming

Today I am celebrating my 3 year anniversary of consulting for Queenspark, South Africa’s retailer of affordable luxury.  Finding a visual communication strategy for this brand was one of my most challenging, but most rewarding experiences.  You so often hear fashion retailers talking about  advertising campaigns to attract a younger, or a more fashionable or my best, a more aspirational customer.  At Queenspark we celebrate a more mature fashion identity and rather focus on ways to give our consumers a fashion offer true to our winning recipe of elegance and luxury at an affordable price.

IMG_5097But what will ladies fashion be without florals, flowers, ditsies or the trending BLOOMing.  Summer’15 was again a perfect opportunity to introduce florals to support Queenspark’s summer collection.  I had so many ideas but to do a window with a limited budget, for 56 stores, with an easy implementation pack and no fancy architectural prop can be tricky.

Luckily I have access to the very talented designer, Candice Gericke, who truly understands the power of visual merchandising.  She  makes sense of all my ideas and together we can pull it into a focused campaign. She is also the queen of identifying affordable props that can be made in South Africa.



It all started when she discovered the painting of all paintings.  A Dutch still life from the 17th century – by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-84) from the Rijksmuseum.

The colour combinations and the elegance of the flower composition  on the dramatic dark background was the perfect combination for our campaign.  Not only did it offer a good generic window solution but also something different for our stills photography back drop.

Plinth covers with a contrasting print, 2 big fabric flowers, a window decal and a bright floor cover was rolled out to all stores.




It created the perfect level of fashion attitude combined with elegance and femininity.


Our print campaign:123Picture1wwPicture1

and the behind the scenes for all the action

This painting recently popped up on bags, cushion covers and linen table cloths all over the retail scene.

Thank you Jan!  We love your blooms!



Postberg eenvoud

Kersvakansies is mos saamkom tyd, tyd om vriendskappe weer ‘n hubstoot te gee en koestertyd met familie.  So ry ons elke jaar Postberg toe, van Yzerfontein so ietsie onder ‘n uur.  Dis bly vir my ‘n spesiale roete maar die keer soveel meer.


Ons hartsvriende, Wilhelm en Anemie Boshoff, vir wie ons ook soos baie ander vriende, hopeloos te min sien, het hul huisie-by-die-see ‘n nuwe kleur en geurtjie gegee.  Onopgesmuk, opreg en met soveel aandag aan onbelangrike detail vir Jan-Alleman, maar so spesiaal vir estetika-vrate soos ek.  Met die hulp van ons gentle-giant argitek-vriend, Hardie van Schalkwyk, het hulle een van Postberg se historiese gehuggies in ‘n funksionele beelskone strandhuis verander.

zzzkraalAandag is juis gegee aan die elemente wat die eienaars se fyn oog vir die spesiale in die lewe mooi oppoets maar ‘n fyn belans is behou om die ritme op die weskus te komplimenteer.


Elke kyk is vir my ‘n lekkerkry.  Alles oorbodig is verwyder en net rou mooi en funksioneel  het oorgebly.  Vuil voete, raasbek kinders en te veel Sauvignon Blanc verdwyn moeiteloos in die detail.


Selfs die ou tradisionele bad en toilet op die voorstoep het sy nuwe baadjie aan.  Subway teëls en boere-doepa gee lekker detail.


Ons besef weer almal ‘n groot voorstedelike huis met onthaalareas en gastekamers is so last season. zzz3Picture1

En dan is daar die gekuier. Die tafel loop oor met vars kleure, boerekos ontertone en elke familie se nuwe resep.  Dis so oordadig dat ‘n tafeltema al lank voor die noenmaal sy gat sien. P445icture1

En terwyl die grootmense stadiger begin praat gaan die visvang voort.


Op die Boshoffs!



A wedding with my kids

Now that it is the wedding season in the Cape Winelands I remember a wedding I did 4 years ago. I’ve done so many different events and celebrations but never a wedding. When my sister asked me to assist her with her daughter big day I decided to help her to creative something simple, honest, from the heart with a kind budget. See the pictures with my daughter Emma and son, Jan who played a key role in the celebrations. The flowers were all white with fresh tullips from a nearby farm, the food all prepared on the Le Joubert estate with props and romantic smalls from my collection.

Wedding 1

Wedding 2

Wedding 3

Wedding 4

Wedding 5

Wedding 6

Wedding 7

Rustic at River Song

I was tasked to design another foyer for Rawson Developers. River Song is a small block of apartments in Rondebosch. The brief again was to come up with a creative décor solution at a limited budget and all elements to be practical as the body corporate must maintain the look and feel of this area. I decided on a very natural feel in tones of toffee, grey and charcoal with red copper highlights. Most of the items are from Weylandts and Chair Crazy. The team on the site was very creative and cost effective and build the counter from regular brick with tile cladding. I love red copper and tasked to team on site to source red copper plate for the counter kick plate to complete the look.

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Nostalgic on wheels

Once in a lifetime you do a job just for the fun of it.  My beloved bought this 1965 Commer Camper van recently and we decided to renovate the outside and then try to keep the interior as is but add a fresh overlay.  What you see is all the original interior wood cladding with fresh upholstery and a few smalls to make it pretty.  She is not just a show piece but in full use for camping weekends.  She is also earning her keep with a TV commercial here and there.  The West Coast locals call her Fugly – you work that out.  For me – my most interesting décor installation.  If you wonder why Paarl 314 – that is Jannie’s lucky number and on all his vehicles for his love for mathematics.

I start with a “before” picture.

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I was tasked to do a brand audit for a very well-known wine estate recently.  My key task was to determine why all the retail spaces were not making good money.  I was very excited about the project and auditing their customer journey seemed to be a very interesting process.  I left my office very early with  the tablet, camera, measuring tape, hat, sunblock, water bottle and all the tricks needed to look like just another tourist. 

As I walked from one touch point to the other I had so many flashes from my past experiences when I was still doing strategy and spending long hours in board rooms to discuss now-so-last season concepts like brand loyalty, aspirational brand positioning, who is my target market bla bla bla.

Here I was selling myself to brand owners as a brand engineer who can help you to realize the importance of aesthetics in your customer journey but just identified a big no-no when building a brand – the ever so important “do you understand the LIFESTYLE of your target market?”  For the first time in my 5 years as a consultant I was part of a customer journey that was too pretty, so stiff, so not user-friendly and ready to alienate the average tourist, local wine lover and picnic fanatic.  So often brands allow very creative agencies to take their brand positioning to the ‘aspirational’ level and no-one around the designer table has the guts to shout “STOP,  your customer will not be comfortable with this experience!”  So yes, I had to conclude with a report of my findings and needless to say that they did not agree with me.    Also important to note that their retail spaces are still border-lining white elephant status but looking oh so pretty, ready for the Conde Nast Traveller’s photographer.

So I stick to my key symptoms when to call the brand doctor:

•          When there is a lack of meaningful differentiation

•          When there is an attempt to be all things to all people

•          When there is failure to promote distinctive differences

•          When there is an unwillingness to own any selected attributes

•          When there is a deep seated desire to run with the pack, not out front

•          When there is an irrational fear of alienating anyone


Every year our family have a debate about the theme for Xmas decorations.  Every year they shout for red, green and gold but I’ve convinced them that it’s time for a playful overlay to our existing décor as we will only spend about 2 weeks of December at home.  I’ve never had a client requesting a Xmas overlay to his office space or his personal space –so today I share with you my interpretation of Xmas with a twist in my home.  Hope you have a wonderful festive season!

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