Modern Classics: Design Pieces With Long-lasting Appeal


WORDS Robyn Alexander

To create an interior that will never go out of style, choose pieces that combine perfect practicality with long-lasting aesthetic appeal.

In late 2020, two design legends passed away: the UK’s Sir Terence Conran, and our own Gawie Fagan.

Conran, one of the founders of the Design Museum, created Habitat, the iconic interiors store that in the late 1960s introduced Brits to the joys of drinking wine from plain glass tumblers, the simple beauty of the round white paper lampshade, and duvets (yes, really).

South African architect Fagan championed simplicity and honesty in design all his life, and his famous Camps Bay home, Die Es, has long been considered a classic of South African domestic architecture.

At a time in which we have all been reassessing the things we surround ourselves with at home – especially given that we now spend so many more hours there – the legacy left behind by these two design icons seems especially relevant.

One of its chief lessons is that combining clean-lined practicality with real aesthetic appeal makes for design happiness. From a sleek dining table to a simple wooden bench, bedding made from 100% linen and classic steel-and-wire outdoor furniture, here’s to the essentials that bring joy every day.

1. The PH5 light, designed by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen in 1958, is so ubiquitous a piece of classic design in Denmark that we lost count of how many times we noticed one in the TV series Borgen. It’s designed to produce flattering, glare-free illumination that is as close to natural light as possible. From R12 300 (excl. delivery and duties) |

2. A great dining chair is a rare and special thing, and the compact, comfortable and good-looking Kariba by local bentwood specialists Woodbender ticks all the boxes. From R3 496 (excl. upholstery and delivery) |

3. Is it the subtle detailing on Pedersen + Lennard’s Escarpment dining table that is its most attractive feature, or its clean and classic lines? You’ll have a lifetime to decide. From R6 500 |

4. There’s something primal in the attraction of the three-legged stool: it must be one of humankind’s oldest designs. This charming and versatile piece is a future heirloom. From R1 500 |

5. Haldane Martin’s Hula range is a contemporary update on the steel-and-wire outdoor furniture of the 1960s and 1970s, and combines huge nostalgic appeal with casual elegance. From R2 645 for a stacking stool |

6. Made in South Africa from 100% linen, Kamma duvet covers and sheets by Mungo keep improving with age and use. Linen is also ecofriendly, hypoallergenic and a natural insect repellent. From R900 for a pillowcase |

7. Curvaceously appealing yet elegantly minimalist, the spindle-backed Carver bench by Houtlander adds both beauty and functionality to any room. From R4 800 |