Unpretentious, locally inspired textiles with global appeal.
That’s how Lise Butler of Design Team, the South African print and textile studio co-founder, along with business partner Amanda Haupt, would describe the soulful, Africa inspired contemporary textiles they create together. They met in college and decided to see if they could produce unique and striking collections that would help empower the dying traditional textile industry in South Africa. All their designs are hand-printed, which allows them to customize a design or change any pattern at a moment’s notice.
Amanda and Lise both consider Design Team an intrinsically Africa textile brand. Their studio is comprised of previously unskilled African workers who are taught to become experts in the fabric printing field. They feel strongly about helping combat both the unemployment rates in Africa as well as the lack of education available for workers to thrive. As Lise and Amanda keep in touch with global styles and trends to design their collections, their team uses their freehand silkscreen printing techniques to interpret these patterns.
The Design Team fabrics, prints and wall coverings reflect their modern twist on the traditional ethnic approach. “Some designs are valuable because it comments on something specific, some are a technical achievement and few otherss are just pretty – and that’s ok,” they explain. They are influenced by colors, nature, people and the ever-changing social dynamics of Africa. You can certainly see this in their multi-color collections featuring Karoo landscapes, the map of Africa, the head and shoulder medallions of African ladies and the indigenous plant life, such as the African Protea, mixed in with pistol imagery.
Design Team has fast become one of the most beloved fabric houses in Africa. Achieving the difficult balance between creativity and commercial liability, they are set to expand their collections into ones with more international flavor as well as a more playful, retro one for the young at heart. They are also experimenting with unique materials, such as waterproof fabrics and book covers. Tapping into a hunger for African-inspired textiles that mix international appeal with ethnic tradition, Amanda and Lise have blazed a trail in their native country with Design Team – and the world, in turn, has connected with them.