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The Search for the Roots of a Humble Little Side Table

Scouring the South African second hand scene in all its guises for valuable vintage furniture turned out to be a way more exciting and engaging project than I though it would be. And I already had high hopes when we started out. The stories attached to furniture are fascinating. The stories of the South African companies who made the furniture, what inspired them, and who they copied. The stories of specific pieces and the families that they belonged to for decades. The stories of how furniture traveled from one family to another. And of course the stories of the real heirloom pieces that were passed down through generations. Real antiques never really appealed to us. It is the vintage stuff,...

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A new life for a tired old haberdashery counter

If it was not for an over priced haberdashery counter with potential but an owner unwilling to negotiate in the CBD of Vereeniging, we would probably not have spotted this one in the store next door. It was not on offer and still being used as a counter and camouflaged by merchandise stacked around it. We found a couple of great vintage pieces in this shop, belonging to the amiable and handsome Mohammed Sahib: Two mid century book cases, an old sewing cabinet, a modernist chrome and glass coffee table and a somewhat eccentric red steel garden chair.  We were ready to pay for these when we saw the unit. “Whoa, look at this!” Ali said. And Mohammed promptly invited...

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How the art deco armchair skeletons were brought back to life

  Last year, Huisraad posted a picture of a dilapidated, rusted, dust-covered and what seemed to be a rotten Art Deco couch and asked followers: What do you think, shall we do it? Razor sharp, rusty springs stuck out of the disintegrated hessian seat covers. The side panels and seats were completely missing. Any sane person would recoil at the image. But of course, Huisraad and their followers did not. Comments streamed in, from suggestions for which fabric to use to those who were already excited for the ‘after’ pics. But first, they had to get their hands on the couches. Magriet and her mother took a break from December holidaying and drove to Port Elizabeth with an empty trailer...

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The tale of the heavy chrome and vinyl parastatal chairs

You see a lot of crazy stuff when hunting for furniture from the fifties, sixties and seventies in South Africa. The thing is, you don’t just find this kind of furniture for a bargain in proper antique shops. And even the most chaotic antique shop is kind of predictable compared to the sort of places where you find mid-century and seventies stuff. You find this kind of furniture in general second hand stores, at auctions of the sheriff of the court, all over the internet, rotting under verandas on the sides of houses. You find it in stores in the platteland but normally at the back since most of these stores sell newer, badly made beds, cupboards and fridges to...

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Huisraad Artist: Willie Saayman

Wilhelm Saayman was born on April the 30th 1962 and matriculated from Jan van Riebeeck High School in 1980. He lives in Cape Town. Willie is a professional film editor and self-taught artist who has never been dependent on the whims of art dealers and the trends of galleries to earn a living. Although he has exhibited widely, his works never centered around exhibitions. His development as artist and painter and his work is therefore a true reflection of a personal journey.  Wilhelm van Rensburg once wrote the following about Saayman: "Wilhelm Saayman’s work is positioned outside conventional structures. He is no ordinary structuralist, though. Instead, one can argue he that is a post-structuralist. 'If structuralism was heroic in its...

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