Innovative thinking, different approaches and techniques turned a creative idea into a new South African children’s furniture brand for a graduate from the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
Invented by Ms Ashton Bullock, an alumna from the Department of Industrial Design within the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), Skog Kids is a practical and user friendly flat pack children’s furniture range.
The brand literally ‘fresh out the box’ will also be featured at the Design Indaba Conference, an esteemed platform that highlights African and global creativity.
UJ’s Industrial Design programme offers academic theory with the practical application of this knowledge. “This approach of praxis results in highly skilled, flexible and considerate Industrial Design alumni, ready for the workplace,” says Mr Angus Campbell, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design, on the winning formula.
Bullock completed a five-week internship at Houtlander, a company which creates wooden bespoke furniture. This practical work experience is part of the requirements for the Btech degree. She pointed out that she got first-hand experience designing the flat pack concepts and further refining them into manufacturable formats. “As a student, I am used to making my own prototypes for projects by hand. The work created on the internship was the real deal; a product factory-made made, to be sold to real life people,” she said.
When the internship came to an end, she left the design-concepts at the company that she says gave her a wonderful learning experience and contentment that one day she too could be a ‘real-life’ designer. “Just in case they wanted to develop and refine anything,” she added nonchalantly.
What came next was beyond her wildest dreams and expectations.
As a graduate she approached Houtlander who in turn informed her that they had gone ahead to create a new brand altogether, Skog Kids. They launched four products; a picnic bench, a desk, a table and stools designs. The actual designs that Ms Bullock had presented during her internship.
“As a student having just left University, having one of my designs, that was once a quick sketch on paper, become an actual tangible product that is not only manufacturable, but something that people want to buy and have in their homes is well, mind-blowing!”
Ms Bullock will be involved in further developing and designing the range.
Skog Kids will make its first entry at the Design Indaba, in February 2015. On showcasing at the event, Ms Bullock said: “As a young designer, having one of your designs, exhibited on a platform alongside top local designers, is for me an honour and something extraordinary. It is all still a bit surreal.”