Some of the DECO team got to visit the Design Indaba conference last week, and today our deputy editor (and one-time NYC correspondent) Kelly Berman filed this report:

The ELLE Deco team sat rapt with attention when Dutch designer Tord Boontje spoke about his work at the Design Indaba conference. Afterwards, we were lucky enough to sit down to eat with him and Brazilian designer Marcelo Rosenbaum (our editor, Laureen Rossouw, hosted them for dinner), and we found Boontje to be as charming and sweet as his endearing designs.

Showing a design for his Little Field of Flowers rug he designed for Nanimarquina, Boontje told the audience at the Design Indaba that the floor was his favourite piece of furniture in the house. “I thought it would be nice to lie in a field of flowers,” he said about the magnificent, multi-coloured rug incorporating felt flowers that was woven in India. He used the technology of die-cutting combined with the tradition of Indian weaving to surprising results. (Read more about the manufacture of this in an article at


Next he showed his range of outdoor furniture for Moroso, where he collaborated with Senegalese craftsmen to create a collection of extravagantly shaped pieces. His Sunny lounger and Shadowy chair include a skin of polyethylene yarn (used for fishing nets) woven over a curved frame of steel. They look resplendently reptilian!


Boontje’s piece de resistance though was his Fig leaf Wardrobe for Meta – a highly intricate, almost Rococo piece combining tradition and fantasy (two things he spoke about a lot). He went into great detail to explain the complex design. The doors were made of hundreds of fig leaves cast in bronze, painted in enamel and positioned very precisely. Inside, the doors were covered in tracery and a wooden trunk grounded the wardrobe at its center.


The audience broke out in wild applause – and Boontje, who is known for his humility, acknowledged their enthusiasm in his unassuming way. Proof that being nice is always in style!