SA design down under

WORDS: Remy Raitt


Emily Ziz Style Studio is a Sydney-based agency importing textile and interior design products from South Africa – taking the best our local designers have to offer and sharing them down under.

Headed by South African, Emma Levitt, Emily Ziz supplies fabrics and design items by the likes of Lorenzo Nassimbeni, Maid in Africa, Ronel Jordaan, Skinny LaMinx and 20 others across Australia and New Zealand.

Designers and retailers in Australasia have been spoilt for choice, and are lapping up the exports from our shores.

Emma says that in addition to their imports, Emma Ziz also offers editorial, event and interior styling services to individuals and businesses seeking some creative assistance.

VISI spoke to Emma to find out more.

When did Emily Ziz open and what were you doing before?

The agency component of Emily Ziz started in September 2010.  Prior to that I was interior styling and consulting in business development to a NASDAQ-listed company in California. I had been working with them for almost eight years at the time. I was ready to move into the creative side of my business full time.

How did you decide on the name?

It was one of my childhood nicknames. The other was “Moon” but I decided that Emily Ziz might have better marketing appeal.

How does you business work?

We are a boutique agency – the designs we represent are unique and make a statement within the environments that they are installed. We are not trying to compete with local design and product – we are about differentiation within the market. All of the designers we work with tell a story and collectively they complement one another. What may start off as an enquiry for some fabric may result in a much larger order for a collection of Monkeybiz beaded animals, some felt rocks by Ronel Jordaan and a vinyl wall design by Lecia De Waal, in addition to the original fabric order!

You are South African. Is that the reason you decided to stick to your roots and partner with SA design and textile producers?

Most importantly I love the colour, design elements, fresh outlooks and brave statements that the SA designers produce. At a logistical level I have a network of people around South Africa that reduce the challenges of running an operation between South Africa and Australia.

What has been the response overseas to our local products?

Overwhelmingly positive.

Do you have plans to represent additional South Africans on top of those you currently work with?

We currently represent 24 designers and there are five others we are talking to – watch this space!

Will you always focus on South Africa exclusively?

At this stage yes, but never say never…

Tell us a bit more about the Decoration + Design Show in Melbourne and your involvement there.

Decoration + Design is Australia’s premier interiors trade event that takes place twice a year. The show is a platform to discover new trends in soft furnishings and interiors and source new suppliers – from emerging designers to established leaders in the field.

Emily Ziz launched our range back in February at Decoration + Design Sydney. We used the show as a platform to determine whether the market was as excited about the product we represented as we were. We figured that we would find out in one week if it was worth pursuing this part of our business or not…

The response was overwhelming. Visitors were queuing to speak to us from the time the doors opened each day and were delighted to see some fresh and innovative design become available within Australia. At the time we booked the trade show stand in November 2010 we represented six designers. By the time we launched at the show in February we represented 14 designers. At the Melbourne show we will be representing the 24 partners we now work with.

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