Monya Eastman used to be a corporate girl, “stuck in an office, daydreaming about making beautiful things.” One day, while renovating her home, the opportunity to escape finally availed itself. Frustrated by not being able to find the kind of furniture she was looking for in the shops, she made a few drawings and got someone to create her ideas from scratch. And that’s how Stokperd (‘hobby’, in Afrikaans) began.
What makes Stokperd unique is that Monya will come to your home and evolve an idea based on the available space, specific functional requirement, type of wood and general aesthetic preferences – culminating in a made to measure piece of furniture. You can also order items off the existing range on the website which will be made to your specifications and wood preference.
We caught up with Monya and asked her a few questions about her new venture:
VISI: How did the idea for Stokperd come about?
Monya: I had a lot of ideas about the type of furniture I wanted for our home, but I could never find it in stores, and even when I did find something I liked – it was just a little bit too big or too small. So I decided to get my own stuff made and that’s how Stokperd was born.
How did you make the transition from office worker to furniture designer? Was it something you had always wanted to do?
In the corporate world I felt like I was getting lost in meetings, buying trips and range reviews. I’d felt the need to hone a real skill, to do something with my hands for a long time. It wasn’t necessarily furniture, that was just one of the first things that came to life. I could just as easily have become a jeweller or a farmer… in fact I might still do those things too!
Where do the ideas for your designs come from; are there any primary sources of inspiration?
The ideas mostly start from a real need – e.g. the bathroom has no storage space for towels, how am I going to solve this problem? Once I’ve considered the need, the aesthetics come into play. I feel strongly about design that enhances your life and is not just good looking for good looking’s sake.
How does the collaborative process work between you and the client?
Most of the clients I’ve worked with already have an idea of what they want, but like me, they haven’t been able to buy it off the shelf or have tricky spaces where conventional sizes won’t work. During the first meeting we look at the space, measure it out, lay down some magazines to demarcate space, talk wood and materials and from there an idea takes shape in the form of a drawing. The existing range has also been very popular and clients either order pieces as they are or customise to their wood and size preference.
Do you only work with wood at the moment, or are there any other materials you tend to use?
I’ve made a bookshelf and coffee table from a combination of mild steel and wood, and pieces made from a combination of wood and formica are also on the drawing board.
Do most of your clients request the furniture ‘standards’ – like tables, chairs, and shelves – or do you sometimes get more challenging request?
The requests range from the basics to shelving units, beds with storage drawers, headboards and bookshelves, but my strangest request was from a Nigerian priest who asked if I can make a wooden altar for his church!
What are your future plans for Stokperd?
I would like to keep growing the range with furniture pieces that are beautiful and functional and are easily customizable. I’m also getting a lot of requests from Jo’burg and Durban so I’ve set myself up to be able to deliver the rest of SA more readily. I’ve even had orders from Denmark and the States, but that part of the world will have to wait a little longer at this point. I also want to add a range of bed linen and sleepwear (again because I can never find what I’m looking for) so I’d like to keep adding new things without losing too much focus. Oh, and I want to offer indoor gardens, living walls and planters for small spaces – working on some ideas at the moment!
More information and contact details: www.stokperd.co.za
VISI and Stokperd are giving away 3 Zed shelves (pictured above) in natural wood to one lucky VISI reader. Simply send an email with ‘Stokperd competition’ in the subject line to email@example.com, and the prize could be yours.
Furthermore, VISI readers get 20% off in August when they order existing pieces from the site, and 10% when ordering new made-to-order items. Just mention to Monya that you heard about Stokperd on VISI.co.za to claim your discount.