In 2014 Mr Price approached several SA designers to come up with a design for a locally-made, woven blanket. The proceeds of the blanket sales would go towards their Red Cap foundation project of donating new blankets to creches in the Kwa-Zulu Natal rural areas. I had a few initial ideas, but in the end the winner was a blue and white blanket inspired by the iconic English Willow pattern ceramic design*. I really loved the final product and the charitable aspect of the project really added a special dimension to the experience. It was deeply-rewarding travelling to the creches and handing the blankets out to the children themselves in the KZN rural areas. It was a super project and something I'd love to do again. Well done Mr P for supporting local manufacturers, designers and making the world a little warmer for those that really need it. Respect.
* The blanket would go on to be exhibited at the Iziko South African National Gallery in an exhibition titled "Patterns of Contact: Designs of the Indian Ocean", which formed part of the World Design Capital 2014 programme. The show focused on the ways in which the decorative and visual culture of Eastern cultures permeated into the West through trade routes which bobbed on the surface of the Indian Ocean.
In 2015, Mr Price invited me back to their HQ in Durban to discuss another collaboration - this time it would involve more than just a fluffy blanket. The new collaboration would be a full range and include bed linen, scatter cushions and ceramics. I was asked to bring some of my sketch books up as well as my collection of black architect pens. After paging through my notebooks in the boardroom, it was decided that the range would be 100% inspired by my notebooks. And so we began paging through the books for material. The result was a playful smorgasbord of sketches that flitted across the ceramic and fabric surfaces*. I loved the range that the MR P team created with my drawings. It was interesting to see the direction that they took with them - often times they were places I would never have thought about going to myself. Getting into bed under a duvet covered in my drawings is definitely one of the more wonderful and bizarre moments I've had. You can see some of the notebook-inspired wares below.
*In 2015 the dinner plates were selected as one of the 100 most beautiful objects at 100% Design South Africa.
So the sketch book-inspired collaboration turned out to be pretty successful, so much so that they reissued some of the cushions in new colour ways and asked me if I might be interesting in another collaboration. So I met with the Mr P team again where I began recounting the life-changing adventure I had on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. It was decided then and there that a nautical theme would be the compass for the new collaboration. The range would be extended into more homeware items this time; namely new ceramic pieces, a circular rug, a very cool pouffe, notebooks and kitchen linen. These would be decorated with images of the RMS St Helena, the people I met on the holiday, mythical aquatic creatures and the island herself. I really enjoyed the entire process as it forced me to crystalize a very special time of my life through illustration. A year and a bit later I would have a reunion with someone of the people I met on the trip and it was super special serving the meal I had prepared on dinner plates inspired by the very people who were eating off them. *Hostess Level 8*
I have to end this post off my just saying a giant thank you to the Mr P team. Dealing with you has been a complete joy. The way you support local design and the way you offer the market something different and unique is really cool. I like to think that this will become a bigger part of what large retail establishments offer. We have so much talent in South Africa. So thank you for nurturing us and investing in our beautiful country.