IN: Inspiration


Adriaan Hugo is one half of groundbreaking furniture-design studio, Dokter and Misses.


Adriaan Hugo is one half of groundbreaking furniture-design studio, Dokter and Misses. After studying industrial design and spending a few years working for a designer group, Hugo started Dokter and Misses with partner and graphic designer, Katy Taplin. For Hugo, the highlight of his career has been starting his own brand from scratch, and watching it grow from a small garage startup to an acclaimed studio in its own right. Hugo and Taplin run Dokter and Misses from Braamfontein, Johannesburg, with numerous international exhibitions.

As a designer, where do you find your inspiration?

Our first range of furniture was based on Bauhaus’s modernist thinking and Katy brought in the graphic design side of it, looking at typefaces. But our inspiration keeps moving all the time. I think architecture is the biggest and most constant inspiration for us though. We often see a building printed on a page and use elements of it to inspire a piece of furniture. We’re also inspired by our needs. When we moved into our house, we had nothing and needed some shelves. So, we designed a shelf for ourselves and it became a range if shelves that we now manufacture. Material use is also big part of what drives new product development and direction. For example, if you find a new tool that can make a circle easier, that changes the direction you go.

You said that you find architecture inspiring. Are there any designer or aesthetic that you really admire?

One of the first pieces we worked on at Dokter and Misses was inspired by mud houses in Burkina Faso. They are painted all the way round in a really beautiful graphic style, so we created a cupboard like that.

And fashion?

There are designers like Suzaan Heyns who are doing amazing things. I love how she uses themes very well to drive her collections, especially her recent one which incorporated cement.

What about sculpture?

Industrial Design and Sculpture overlap in a lot of ways, don’t they?

Yes. Edoardo Villa is one of my favourite South African sculptors of all time. I really love the use of steel in his work, which was the first material I ever worked with.

Are there any jewellery designers that you resonate well with?

Jan Bekker from Sirkel has done some amazing work. He made my wedding ring. What he does is take elements of traditional jewellery design, but add an interesting twist. He has a way of always coming up with something new.

Initiatives like the Imaginarium Awards have been putting creativity and the creative process on centre stage. In your opinion, how has the role of creativity evolved over time?

I think that the commercialisation of creativity has definitely evolved and a lot more people are now latching onto it. But the fundamentals of creativity have always been there. There are so many different ways to express yourself. The difference is that today, with the Internet and access to so much information, your turnaround time is a lot faster. I also think the public are now more open to new creative ideas, which is very encouraging. People are questioning our parents’ way of living and that’s really cool. Creativity hasn’t changed, but the mindset surrounding it has. In a very good way.

As you know, the Awards are all about finding the most creative and innovative uses of concrete. When did you first start using this medium?

We started using it a year or two ago when we needed a heavy base for a light we were working on. Concrete worked really well. Then we started experimenting by putting dyes in it, which gave it a beautiful marble effect. The obvious downside of concrete, which we always need to be aware of, is its weight. It can make transporting an item to a client very difficult.

Is there any advice you would offer to designers who want to enter the competition?

I think that concrete can be quite an intimidating medium. It’s not certain and it has endless possibilities. The best way to start is by experimenting with it. Pouring it, dipping it and figuring out the best way of application. Start small and make sure you understand the material before you go big.

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