Home Story with Carla Erasmus

A photo of Frankie the dog

Home Story with Carla Erasmus

Interview with the cofounder of Bofred Feature Furniture

The air is warm and prickly as we manoeuvre our rented Hyundai up the steep streets of Cape Town’s city centre. Up ahead, the large flat body of Table Mountain towers like a majestic monument. Behind us, the deep blue water of the atlantic glimmers in the sunlight. It’s a bright and sunny day in Southern Africa, and we’re on our way to meet Carla Erasmus, co founder of Bofred; the feature furniture brand based in Cape Town. Carla has warmly agreed to an interview and invited us to her home, where we’re gingerly greeted by her curious, and oh so photogenic dog, Frankie.

Frankie, a very photogenic dog
Homestory with Carla Erasmus owner of Bofred

How did you get started with Bofred? What was the inspiration and driving force behind starting your own thing?

“Boredom really… I got bored with working really hard for other people and executing their creative visions. I had my own. That gave me confidence to take the leap. I was stuck in a 8-6 job. Underpaid and creatively frustrated. That’s enough to make you be brave enough and start your own thing!”

At what point did you realise or start to feel that Bofred was worth pursuing and that it could be a viable business?

“I still don’t know. We have three years behind us. I work really hard, I give it my all. I’m an early riser and a confident business owner. That must count. I think it’s a viable business because I LOVE my job. I strive for perfection and originality & creative indulgence… We have many opportunities ahead of us that excite me.”

Homestory with Carla Erasmus from Bofred
Bofred Homestory

Was there a point in time where you almost gave up? Tell us about that – and why you kept going nonetheless.

“I want to give up when I realise I could make more money… I made a lot more before I had my own company. But money isn’t everything you know… and I am not giving up…”

Which piece that you developed, are you most proud of?

The Arch Table Lamp. I LOVE it.”

What motivates you in your work or where do you find your inspiration?

“I go to lots of art exhibitions. Im an artist and a photographer – and not strictly a designer. My designs are just sculptural yet practical items for the home. I find most inspiration in art and music.”

Bofred Homestory with Carla Erasmus
Homestory with Carla Erasmus from Bofred

Interview with Carla Erasmus

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. If not, who would you most love to learn from?

“Oooooh, tough one. I perhaps need a mentor. I read a lot about other small businesses and their success stories – so I absorb what other creatives are doing around me. So I can learn from their mistakes and make insightful decisions in my business.”

How would you define your home style or style of your home?

“It’s lots of found items from travels and heirlooms. Lots of art and photographs and books and textures. I don’t really follow trends – I just buy what I like and I can use in my home. Everything has a story, I know where everything is from, when why and how. Nothing is bought in sets of 8. Nothing matches the drapes. As one evolves – as one should – I let go of things and replace the insignificant purchases.”

Do you have inspiration sources that you apply to styling your home?

“Nope. I get influenced with work research and work and home collide. But I am a huge fan of young London based interior designer, Studio Ashby.”

Home visit with Carla Erasmus from Bofred
Carla Erasmus Home Visit

What is your favourite room at home and why?

“The little corner seat at the front of the house. It’s a built in window seat. Trees being the view and dappled sunlight. Morning coffee / Friday night wine corner / Saturday morning meditation / Sunday lazy reading nook.”

What’s your favourite piece at home? Why do you love it.

“I bought a Staffordshire ceramic dog at a SPCA in Underberg, Kwazulu-Natal, and it’s my favourite possession. It cost nothing, literally I think R20 – but I gave a large donation because I’m an animal activist and it would only be fair. They did not realise the value. I LONG for a pair. My favourite pieces is the ART in my home, it grows and move around in the house… so it’s ever changing and ever pleasing.”

Do you have an architect, artist or an iconic designer who inspires you?

“Jacques Grange! ( interior designer ) & Eileen Grey // Cy Twombly as multi-disciplinary artist & Giacometti. No, too many to name. List is endless.”

Staffordshire ceramic dog
Another ceramic dog

What place do you escape to? A place you like to go to, to recharge or an address that makes you feel good?

“I go back “home” where i grew up – Durban – every three months. I visit my parents, my sister and her family. That’s solid quality time. And I can just be.”

“For me to recharge, take me to a secluded cabin, no electricity, no signal, no instagram – no evidence that I existed in that space – a waterfall…. my dog and my husband. Western Cape has endless magical spots such as these that I enjoy with my family and friends.”

Do you have a philosophy of life, or advice you follow religiously?

“Go to bed early. Go to bed with an empty mind. Go to sleep relaxed. Talk to your dog, your partner or read an easy read. Listen to music. Laugh. Get off your phone. And wake up early. Have a coffee, go for a walk, make a healthy breakfast and start work bright and early!”

Interview with Carla Erasmus, Cofounder of Bofred
Interview-with-Carla-Erasmus-Cofounder of Bofred

Interview-with-Carla-Erasmus-Cofounder of Bofred

Name one piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be pursue their own dream or business idea:

“Be Brave. Be original and have fun!”

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

“Geogia O Keefe. she had a lot of dogs. We would hang out and paint in her garden.”

What is your favourite destination outside of South Africa, and why do you love it?

“I haven’t travelled enough… but I loved travelling to Sri Lanka for a friends wedding – and we backpacked for three weeks after that…”


Name 5 of your favourite spots in Cape Town for…

Breakfast or coffee: Hemelhuijs.

Spending a hot summers day: In Yzerfontein sipping crisp Chardonnay at my mother in law’s home and taking a quick sunset dip in the freezing Atlantic!

Spending a cold winters day: If it’s raining: At home, with snacks and documentaries. If it’s just cold: Hiking up the mountain and enjoying the views and the fresh air!

Finding inspiration: At an art exhibition – hopefully by myself – on a saturday morning, SMITH or Stevenson Gallery.

A night out with friends: A night IN with friends. Or greek in the courtyard at Marias.

For more info about Bofred and the beautiful furniture they make, take a look at their website and instagram.




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Brussels apartment of design blog creators Matthieu & Bénédicte

View of Saint Gilles | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

CREATIVE DOMAIN: BRUSSELS

A visit to Matthieu and Bénédicte, the creators of the Belgian design blog Auguste&Claire

My next story on creatives features the young Franco-Belgian couple and authors of the french interior and design blog Auguste&Claire. The creative duo Matthieu and Bénédicte live in the vibrant district of Saint-Gilles. Early spring, I visited them in their beautifully renovated Belgium apartment, to learn more about their blog and about what keeps them occupied in the dynamic city of Brussels.

View of Saint Gilles | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Vintage meets modern | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.comVintage meets modern | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Their home is a beautifully renovated multi-story structure with large windows and high ceilings. Matthieu – an independent architect at pl.rigaux – did a great job at renovating and restoring the space, with careful consideration of the historic character and sensitivity to the original features of the building.

Chicque and simple vintage meets modern dining room | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Chicque and simple vintage meets modern dining room | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.comChicque and simple vintage meets modern dining room | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bénédicte and Matthieu sought items that would compliment the character of their new space. So they started revamping some ikea pieces and vintage or second-hand finds. Soon they moved on to designing and building pieces of their own. Their blog; Auguste&Claire followed as a means to share these creations. Here they could show others how possible it is to make your own quality, personalised furniture & decorative elements, that’s not only cost-effective but durable and timeless. The TARVA dresser hack is one of my favourites. These days the blog also includes their discoveries on design, photography, architecture as well as other daily inspirations.

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

The couple, who met in Barcelona when Bénédicte was doing an internship and Matthieu an Erasmus exchange, makes a fine team. With his architectural understanding of both structure and shape as well as the integrity of raw materials, Matthieu manages to create DIY pieces that transcends your usual DIY feel. Bénédicte, who runs her own marketing & communications consultancy, translates Matthieu’s creations into beautifully styled and easy to follow content for the blog.

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

As independent business owners I was curious about their approach to doing their own thing and about the obstacles they faced. Apart from the initial administrative barriers, financial security was their foremost concern although both were optimistic and not at all troubled by the notion. Bénédicte pointed to the importance of having a clear vision and sticking to your goal and to make sure that you build up a solid network of support and leads before you go solo.

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.comBright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

It’s apparent that these two aren’t ones to follow standard conventions. There’s a saying in Belgium; “de belg heeft een baksteen in de maag”. Meaning, all Belgians have a brick in their stomach. The maxim bears witness to the inexplicable need for every young Belgian to buy a piece of land and build their own house. It’s therefore rather unique for Bénédicte and Matthieu to have settled in the city. But walking down the lively streets of St Saint-Gilles, you get an instant sense of diversity and creativity of the place so it’s with little wonder why the two decided to live here.

All white kitchen | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Beautiful wall storage | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
 TARVA dresser hack

I asked Matthieu and Bénédicte what attracted them most about Brussels in general. They unanimously agreed to the city’s cultural diversity. When they’re not out exploring the many vintage and antique markets for forgotten treasures, the cosmopolitain community and it’s rich artistic and creative offerings keep them more than inspired and entertained.

All white kitchen with a view| Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

All white kitchen with a view| Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
All white kitchen with a view| Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

You can read more about the pair and their favourite things to do in the city in the Top Five Tips sections below. This is a new feature to the blog so keep a look out for some cool city tips, advice and inspiration in my future creative domains blog posts. For more DIY, home and design stories, go check out their blog: Auguste&Claire

Bright, light & tranquil renovated bathroom | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright, light & tranquil renovated bathroom | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
Bright, light & tranquil renovated bathroom | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Top Five Tips

#1 One piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be their own boss:

To envision the life that he/she most want and write down how it would look like. It always helps to clarify our main goals and make them happen!

#2 Your favourite inspirational quote or motto:

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. (Einstein)

#3 If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

We would love to enjoy a coffee with Jacques Brel, Belgian singer and songwriter, and talk about his multiple passions and lifestyle.

#4 What is your ultimate travel destination? One place you’ve been to or would love to go explore?

We’re thinking about visiting Japan, probably the next on the list!

#5 Name 5 of your favourite spots in Brussels for…

Breakfast/coffee

Eating ‘pasteis de nata’ at Forcado Pastelaria

Spending a hot summers day

In the pool of the JAM Hotel

Spending a cold winters day

Early tour at the flea market in Les Marolles and a coffee at PinPon, an old fire station converted into a restaurant

Finding inspiration

Looking at the budgies building strange nests at the Duden Park

A night out with friends

A glass of wine at the evening market in front of Saint-Gilles town hall (every Monday)

Matthieu & Bénédicte from Auguste & Claire | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

As always, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. Do like or share if you did! Till next time.

WEBSITE: AUGUST&CLAIRE | STORY + PHOTOS: BARBARA CILLIERS

The beautiful Berlin apartment of Quiet Studios interior designer

Berlin apartment of Quite Studios creative director Daniela Franceschini | sitsitso.com

Quiet Studios

The beautiful Berlin apartment of interior designer Daniela Francheschini

My favourite thing about sitsitso, is that I get to meet so many magnificent and fascinating people. Passionate entrepreneurs who do not fear their own dream-led pathways. People creating beauty where they go. People like Daniela Franceschini – designer and creative director of the interior design studio; Quiet Studios.

Dreamy Berlin apartment of Quite Studios' creative director
Beautiful apartment of Berlin interior designer

Beautiful apartment of Berlin interior designer | sitsitso.com

A couple of weeks ago I visited Daniela at her home in Berlin’s Neukölln neighbourhood. The house, which dates back to 1905, is a stunning structure with original parquet floors and pressed ceilings. Two genuine ceramic stoves still heat up the home – a perfect setting to learn a little more about her story, and how Quiet Studios came about.

Interior designer's beautiful Berlin home | sitsitso.com
Interior designer's beautiful Berlin home | sitsitso.com

Daniela grew up in Spain and studied fashion design in Madrid. A masters degree in sustainability at ESMOD brought her to Berlin where she did her thesis together with an NGO from Kathmandu, focusing on the development of hand-craft skills like basket weaving among communities in Nepal. She later continued this focus on sustainability, working within the trade of sustainable, hand-crafted goods in Morocco.

Home of Quiet Studios' creative director, Daniela Franceschini

Berlin studio of Quite Studios' creative Daniela Home of Quiet Studios' creative director, Daniela Franceschini | sitsitso.com
Berlin studio of Quite Studios' creative Daniela Home of Quiet Studios' creative director, Daniela Franceschini | sitsitso.com

Then one day, a friend asked her to design the interior of their café and concept store in the south of Spain. Working with a tight budget, Daniela sought out creative design solutions. Opting for recycling, up-cycling and hand-craft, discarded wood and sleepers became stools and shelves. Soon WOODS: foods & goods, would be the first of many successful interior design projects to be added to Quiet Studio’s growing body of work.

Berlin apartment of Quite Studios' creative director | sitsitso.com

Berlin apartment of Quite Studios' creative director | sitsitso.comDreamy Berlin apartment of Quite Studios creative director | sitsitso

Daniela’s background in sustainability makes her sensitive to human nature and its relation to interiors and design. The human is always at the centre of her design approach; how it affects one’s mood and behaviour, how you move and interact in a space, as much as one’s socio-cultural background.

Beautiful apartment of Berlin interior designer | sitsitso.com
Beautiful apartment of Berlin interior designer | sitsitso.com

The work of Quiet Studio has an understated elegance that find it’s origin in the honesty of the space and the integrity of the pieces. Daniela chooses objects with character. Something that tells a story other than the mass market aesthetic of Ikea-clad compositions. She likes to scour antique and second hand markets – finding pieces with interesting narratives; like a (rather ironic) print of naked dancing ladies she uncovered in Morocco.

Interior designer's beautiful Berlin home | sitsitso.com

Visiting Quiet Studios's creative director at her home in Berlin | sitsitso.com
Interior designer's beautiful Berlin home | sitsitso.com

Visiting Quiet Studios's creative director at her home in Berlin | sitsitso.com

Daniela understands luxury as an honest and intellectual process instead of a mere collection of commodities. She seeks to bring a soul into her spaces; to bring about the voice that already lays petrified within the walls. Over restaurant in London, beautifully illustrates this dialogue of perfection; a result of her true mies-van-der-rohe-minimalist approach.

Home of Daniela Franceschini - Quite Studios' creative director | sitsitso.com

Home of Daniela Franceschini - Quite Studios' creative director | sitsitso.com
Home of Daniela Franceschini - Quite Studios' creative director | sitsitso.com

To me Daniela’s home is testament to more than her penchant for finding beautiful things. It illustrates her ability to design timeless interiors. Spaces to be lived in, experienced and enjoyed. Environments where you feel at once welcome and at home. Places, you’ll look forward to visiting again.

Quiet Studios - Berlin Interior design studio | sitsitso.com
Quiet Studios - Berlin Interior design studio | sitsitso.com
Daniela Franceschini from Quite Studios in Berlin
 Quiet Studios in Berlin
WEBSITE: QUIET STUDIOS  |  STORY + PHOTOS:  BARBARA CILLIERS

As part of my new series on entrepreneurs and creatives, I’ll be asking each of these mavericks some questions about being their own boss. I hope this will inspire those who want to do their own thing, and give them a little nudge towards finding their own paths.

What’s the best thing about being your own boss:

Daniela:

“The free creative direction, being able to stay true to yourself and the freedom to do things you believe in. And also the space and flexibility to learn through the mistakes you may make along the way.”

What’s the hardest thing about being on your own:

Daniela:

“To always have to find new clients, to be innovative, to keeping up with trends and to stay motivated and inspired.”

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The Round House

Livingroom of The Round House in pretoria

 

THE ROUND HOUSE

 

When I was little, my mom used to drive us to Rietondale for icy early morning hockey tournaments. Often, I’d ask her to take the steep drive up Eastwood, so we could pass by the round house on top of the hill. Every time, I marvelled at the unique architecture, and busied my mind with thoughts of the interesting people whom I was certain must live there. For one must surely be curious to live in such an unusual home.

 

Sitsitso's visit to Pretoria Artist's hilltop home

Pretoria artist's art-filled home | sitsitso.com
Artistic home in Pretoria

 

Many years later I drove with a friend up that very hill, on our way to visit her mum. And to my surprise and utmost delight, we stopped at the round house. My friend had grown up there. This was their house. Going inside, I felt like I’d received a gift. For not only was I able to explore a place of childhood fantasy, but my reveries of a marvellous interior, had been largely correct. This house was indeed extraordinary.

 

Pretoria artist's quirky home
Beautiful piece by Pretoria based artist Margaret Nel | sitsitso.com
Mid-century modern pieces | sitsitso home-visit
A visit to Margaret Nel's curious Pretoria home

 

The Le Corbusier inspired “Round House”, was designed by german architect May von Langenau, for my friend’s late father and her artist mother, Margaret Nel. An exemplar of the so called International Style of architecture, the house is noted for its spherical shape (quite a novelty at the time of construction in 1961) as well as the structure. Hoisted off the ground by supporting pilotis, the terrain extends under the house in true Le Corbusier fashion. With a radial layout instead of load bearing walls, the space provides spectacular views of the surrounding Magalies mountains.

 

Pretoria artist quirky bedroom

The quirky bedrooms of the round house in Pretoria
Pretoria-Artist's-eccentirc-home

 

But if the view or the structure does not amaze you, the interior will. Nel has done an incredible job at curating the space. Every detail has been carefully thought out, every piece telling its story. Old iron hospital beds, -trollies and -lockers add to an industrial theme that feels surprisingly warm and modern thanks to accompanying second-hand, mid-century pieces sourced at great length by Margaret.

M

Art filled home of Pretoria artist Margaret Nel | sitsitso
Curated artwork and details that tell a story | sitsitso

 

An interesting dialogue between the decor and artwork is evident throughout the interior. Among the works of esteemed artists like Claudette Schreuder and Diane Victor, peculiar artefacts like plastic dolls and dinasours, wooden sculptures and vintage mannequins, transform the house into an artwork itself.

The round house in Pretoria

Curios details of the round house in Pretoria
Artist's Margaret Nel's home is filled with beautiful pieces by the artist

 

The clever displays feel like a running commentary of artistic expression. It’s at the same time sensitive and quirky; a dualism of sorts, between a bright and colourful South African vernacular, and a muted European design sensibility. Nel’s own work is on display as well. Pieces from her “Best Before” series (oversized life-like renderings of meat and confectionary wrapped in plastic and styrofoam) continues the dualistic notions, in this instance, of preservation and decay. 

 

The round house in pretoria

 

The house itself feels, as it were, like a juxtaposition. It’s at once classic and modern, off-beat and stylish. And so in answer to my childhood daydreams, the round house is undoubtedly eccentric. An elegant expression of Margaret Nel’s keen design sensibility, her prowess as an artist and her fine sense of humour.

Pretoria artist's eccentric round house in Pretoria | sitsitso.com

Some of Margaret Nel's artwork from her home in Pretoria | sitsitso
Margaret Nel's round house in Pretoria

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