All you need to know
"There is something about African style that appeals across time and continents. The roots are inextricably African - which is a large part of its charm - but in recent years a new wave of designers have taken those roots, kept the glamour and something of the nostalgia, but injected contemporary sophistication into the mix. " Lucia Van Der Post, The Times, UK, 2002.
"My aim has been to find items that are not readily available, that blend in well with a contemporary look and also with more traditional styles of design. For instance our African Home Decor line consist of a large variety of unique items; African art, driftwood furniture and women figure sculptures, wood turner vases, and tall collectable ceramic vases by top South African artists. Bamileke stools from Cameroon, hand carved from a single tree trunk, wooden hand-carved tall figures know as colonial figures, street wire outdoor furniture and telephone wire baskets. And let's not forget, our unique lighting fixtures ranging from; ostrich egg shell chandeliers including standing lamps, wall sconces made from horns and porcupine quills, zebra skin lampshades, recycled glass chandeliers, as well as, bamboo friendly contemporary hanging lights", explains Noleen.
Noleen Kutash travels widely in South Africa and other African countries sourcing her range. A buying trip might involve visiting craft-workers in isolated country regions, seeking out sculptors or wood workers. She frequently meets with leading furniture designers in Johannesburg and Cape Town to perfect the accelerating fusion of her homeland's rich cultural heritage with contemporary design. The result is Phases Africa - a collection that combines a sophisticated contemporary design aesthetics in the organic and timeless beauty of Africa's tribal and colonial legacy. African Interior Design Ideas by Noleen Kutash.
"During my extended stay in Florence, Italy, in 2000 and 2001, I became a Medici “groupie” while studying the Italian Renaissance. At the time, little did I know that one day I would find myself standing at the door of such a movement in my country of birth, South Africa. Upon my return to the U.S. in August of that same year, a friend of mine in Los Angeles with a highly successful home furnishing store asked if I would consider going to South Africa to explore the prospects of finding a new look for her store. I had no experience in this field; however, I packed my bags and set forth on a talent hunting expedition. Once embarked on this journey, I never looked back, for I found a renewed “kinder spirit” in South Africa and its people, known as the "rainbow nation". What I found at the end of this rainbow was a pot of gold, and it was not the kind of gold we are most known for. This was a melting pot of untapped creative talent. Finally I had my opportunity to give back to Africa. This is how I became a “talent scout” in Africa and created my business, Phases Africa, in 2001. I have been observing the continuing growth of this creative movement, called the "African Renaissance," so coined by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki. I source my products all over Africa, as far as Timbuktu, where I buy from the Tuareg people, who are nomads living in the desert. These artisans work with goat skin leather and use an ancient technique in tooling the leather. South African safari lodges and hotels generally only use African products and have been consistently rated amongst the world’s top hundred hotels, in the most prestigious of publications year after year."
"Phases Africa obtains their products directly from the artisans responsible for the interiors of these luxurious hotels. I love being surrounded by conversation pieces, as I sit here in one of my genuine ostrich skin wing back chairs and look around my living room every single piece has a story. I take my Yellow Jarrah chateau dining room set, made from the original rail-wood sleepers, used to link countries in Africa at the turn of the 19th century. One-of-a-kind contemporary ceramics and wood turned vases are all over my African themed dining and living room, from several of South Africa’s most collectable artisans. Telephone wire baskets from the Zulu people are donning my walls. A Dogon hand-carved wood door from Mali combined with Panga Panga timber (another sleeper-wood) turned into a stunning custom made cabinet where I store all my choice African tableware. Owning something as significant as a piece of Africa’s history probably makes my rail-wood one of my more treasured furniture lines. Above my Yellow Jarrah table, I have a three ring Ostrich egg chandelier.
"Then behind my dining room table -- up against the wall overlooking my dinner guests, are two six feet tall “musicians”, hand carved from palm fronds. One is holding a flute, the other a violin. These six feet, tall sculptural women figures are a limited edition of African art and each sculpture is signed by the artist. In the entrance hallway of my home, I have an incredible Shona art sculpture called "Lady with great Desire" by Richard Kanjara. It's as if Picasso himself sculpted it, a well-known fact that Picasso was hugely influenced by African Art, and in this piece the similarities are clearly noted. http://www.drloriv.com/Tips/ID/359/African-Art-and-Modernism The recycled rail-wood we addressed earlier comes in four different timbers, namely Yellow Jarrah, Panga Panga, African and Rhodesian Teak. We also have products made from African mahogany, mostly created by a Russian artist now residing in South Africa. He carves each piece of furniture with a distinctive modern African flair. Recently he was commissioned by the House of Fendi from Milan, to produce furniture for their new home store in Miami. When the Italians turn to Africa for their products, you must know that we are doing something right. I also ventured into a part of South Africa’s colonial past, using indigenous precious woods that grow in the rain forests of South Africa. Known as the Garden Route, this timber is under strict government protection. We are only allowed to use these timbers once the trees have fallen. These forests house some of the world’s most expensive and rare timbers; Stinkwood and South African Yellow wood. If you need to know where you can purchase these genuine antiques today, try Sotheby’s in London, you may get lucky. Phases Africa, have not used any stink-wood to construct furniture; I have a few heirlooms in my home, and no, they are not for sale! I have one contemporary Yellow Wood table left in my warehouse in California with an aluminum horn-shaped legs, and it is on sale. My business is set up in South Africa where I’m able to oversee production and take care of my clients shipping needs for speedy delivery across the globe. Each and every product, whether it’s African furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs or African decor and art, it’s suited for residential, hospitality, as well as office spaces large or small. Before 2001, the so-called “home products” that were exported from Africa were mostly artifacts famed by tourists. I am thankful that Phases Africa has a significat role in the telling of this positive story; a tale of a continent who would rather be known for trade, than a plight for aid."