Before starting our exam project, we had long discussions about what we felt was important to us and about the ways we want to work. Since we are both interested in crafts and do a lot of it ourselves, it felt natural to make crafts the point of departure for our project. Our discussions revealed that we are more or less fed up with the part of today’s design world which is all about conceptualizing and creating products for a consumer society without involvement at a deeper level. In order to justify ourselves as designers we felt a need for our work to mean more than just that. This led us on to the idea of cooperating with craftsmen in poorer parts of the world, thus highlighting their crafts and their cultural tradition and perhaps, in the long run, contribute to creating more work for the local craftsmen.
Before going to South Africa, we tried to study their wealth of crafts and also established contact with a ceramics studio called the Potters Workshop whose work we found highly inspiring. When we came to visit the little factory of the Potters Workshop we directly felt it was a good place to work at the atmosphere, the smell of wet clay, hearing the clicking sounds of the Xhosa language for the first time, people moulding, shaping and painting their works.
After working intensively for four weeks in and around Cape Town, bumping in to people, trouble, and a lot of fried food, we had come up with the ceiling lights called Forbidden Fruit. Ceramic shades hand painted by the brothers Ernest and Wendell at the Potters Workshop. Ernest and Wendell are the same age as us but live a completely different life. They work to support their families and kids in the Cape flats, one of the poorer parts of Cape Town and a reminde of the horrific apartheid. The remnants of the apartheid were constantly present even though it’s been almost twenty years since Mandela became president. Cape Town was sometimes a weird place to work, so much wealth but still so much poverty. But at least Ernest and Wendell gets paid 25 percent per painted light, so we know we somewhat contribute to supporting their families.
Where does the name Forbidden Fruit come from? The tactile painted dots on the lampshades and the repetitive sensation when moving your hand over them are evocative of the patterns you can find on some fruit. The bright colours suggest that the fruit may even be poisonous...