South Africa. . .Get Inspired

I find that TRAVEL greatly influences my design work and how I approach a project.

I Get Inspired by visiting markets, museums, galleries, antique avenues, historic houses and private residences. Just simply walking down a back alleyway laden with small boutiques and interesting shops, a country lane, or city street- – really anywhere in the world provides the opportunity of gathering design information.

Getting Inspired happens when what you get is not what you expected, but what you didn’t expect. A  color used in an unorthodox way. An architectural detail. An antique chair or Mid-Century Moderne one. A rare artifact. A woven basket fashioned from native vegetation. Exotic ostrich skins dyed shocking pink  or turquoise, and used for upholstery. Even a natural Springbok or Zebra hide simply tossed on the floor, over an existing area rug, or flung over a living room sofa can create a spark and ferment a design idea.

As a child, I had always wanted to travel to Africa, experience the habitat of the bushveld, get up close and personal with the animals, experience the call of the wild. Recently, an opportunity presented itself. Images of ‘Out Of Africa’ danced in my head as I visited two game reserves- Londolozi, (, known for its leopards on the Sand River Sabi Sands in the greater Limpopo Trans Frontier Park, and Phinda Game Reserve (,  set in the heart of a beautiful sand forest in the Maputaland Region of northern KwaZula-Natal. My objectives were simple. I wanted to see animals. Armed with a new camera, and not really having had time to test its features, taking pictures became a process of catch as catch can. I got lucky! While the Land Rover ride through the bush each morning was bumpy, cold and exhausting – what do you expect being up at 4 and out by at 5 tracking a white rhino or the king of beasts –  the Big Five Plus did not disappoint. Neither did the daily markets, tribal villages, camp compounds, and lodges with their melding of African design, classical, and modern furnishings. This was a different world.

Being a designer and a Francophile at heart with a penchant for classical interiors tweaked with Mid-Century Moderne accents, African design was not top priority. But, when I came up close and personal with the native art and crafts of this continent, I became mesmerized-  excitement swelled. During the early morning hours, I was in the bush on safari, photographing animals and the wilderness. During the afternoon hours, I learned about the history of native artifacts. What Zulu Zen style was. I became familiar with the Indigo Masari Wedding & Plateau baskets – hand carved with needles from forests and Imigweqwe plants, and telephone cable wire baskets and jewelry in a myriad of hot shades and elaborate design combinations, all of which tell a story of African heritage, creativity, and  a community’s rich diversity. I also learned that since the end of Apartheid in 1990, an innovative contemporary design scene has emerged in South Africa.

With all things Moderne sweeping the design industry and our ‘Home Environments’ these days, African – things edgy, inspirational, and ethnic – fit comfortably, and mix  well with Classical & Moderne interiors.

GET INSPIRED. . . I did.

Travel into the bush was in a four seater

Cowhide Director's Chair from Phases Africa

Exotic Hides- Zebra, Springbok, Shearling, Ostrich, Croc are all familiar design statements. Using a myriad of exotic skins together in unexpected way looks fresh

Traditional wing is fully upholstered in Alligator
Roje Leather Co.

Roje Leather Co.

Bernadette Livingston Furniture

Our quarters  at Phinda’s Forest Camp with company waiting to greet us

Phinda –  the first camp visited

At Phinda our living quarters consisted of floor to ceiling windows & thatched roof

Londolozi — known for leopards

Londolozi’s Tree Camp features native furnishings & oversized photographs of leopards

Elements and Accents- Bone beads strung on hemp & creatively displayed in stone bowl

Interesting pods randomly placed in an wedding basket

This chair is made of small glass beads strung on telephone cable wire

Photo by Emily Jenkins Followill, shows how classical interiors mix well with Africana

Elephant’s Skull– bush rules and regulations -what’s found in the bush, remains in the bush

All things WHITE. . .native pots show beautiful graphic designs

Hand made Wedding and Harvest Baskets tell a story of love, marriage, and family
No two are alike, and take 2 months to make

Bent branch baskets

Scalamandre fabric or leopard hide??

Cape Town’s Long Market Street Bazaar. A wealth of trinkets and treasure

Masari jewelry & baskets made from telephone cable wire woven with colored beads

Telephone cable wire & bead baskets - Phases Africa

Telephone cable wire & beaded baskets - Phases Africa

Batik and Kuba Cloth dyed & appliqued with tribal & animal motifs.

Kuba Cloth Phases Africa

Kuba Cloth Phases Africa

Nigerian Mumuye Rain Implement

Seen at New York Winter Antiques Show

Tribal Elements and Accents

Ashanti Stool

Decorated Gourds

Wire & vegetation sculpture melded into elephant tusks

Intriguing, stylish, edgy, and inspirational

It’s fascinating to see how others live halfway around the world

Photography By MARJORY SEGAL


Creative Director at MARJORY SEGAL Designs Traditional & classic approach to home and design coupled with a modern emphasis, touched with a bit of whimsy. In business 23 years Hometown-Washington, DC Former Fashion and Home Editor, Washingtonian Magazine Participated in 17 National Symphony Decorator Showhouses Specialities . . . Country homes and City residences. Castles, Cabins in the woods and Vacation hide-a-ways
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1 Response to South Africa. . .Get Inspired

  1. Jann Seal says:

    Your words brought Africa to life! I could FEEL the textures and SEE the vivid colors. A good read! Jann Seal

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