Today’s edition of our monthly Friends and Neighbours blog series is an interview with our European distributor, Marian Counihan of The South is Blooming. Marian has just returned from OntwerpSalon in Utrecht, where she was showing her selection of all the things from Southern Africa with a cheeky Afro pop aesthetic. We’re thrilled that Skinny laMinx is included in her selection.
Hi Marian! What led you to open your own business?
A combination of factors, but it was primarily out of sheer enthusiasm for South Africa’s burgeoning creative industry. In the two decades since apartheid ended, South Africa has really exploded creatively, and it was just so exciting to see the sector maturing and producing world-class and still fantastically original design and craft.
How did you discover Skinny laMinx?
I ‘discovered’ Skinny laMinx in a friend’s pop-up in Johannesburg about six years ago. The Sevilla Rock series caught my eye immediately, and I still think the collection will be considered a South African design icon in time.
What do you think sets the European market apart, and how do see them responding to Skinny laMinx?
I think Europeans are by and large very discerning consumers. There is a turn here away from ‘carefree’ consumerism, and a growing interest in the provenance of products, how and where they are manufactured, the materials used, etc. People are very thoughtful about what they buy, and value quality and originality. I really appreciate that.
Of course I have seen only positive responses to Skinny laMinx, but I would say that they value the very characteristic aesthetic, which blends a mid-century, Scandinavian feel with distinct southern influence, in the strong palettes, geometrics, and motifs. The designs are classic but not generic, if that makes sense, and people respond immediately to that.
What is your favourite Skinny laMinx product?
Oh that’s difficult! I have to say that the Bowls in graphite are one of my favourite designs – we have a chair covered in it, which was in the display window of our World Design Capital pop-up in Amsterdam, and we could have sold it 30 times over! So I am not the only one!
Who is your favourite designer?
I would have to go for the Marimekko studio here – the colour and joy of those prints has captured my heart. I am hoping that Skinny laMinx will grow to be the southern Marimekko, with a whole host of designers under your label. Heather could run a design academy for up-and-coming newbies… Heather are you listening?? (Yes! Love the idea!)
Where do you love to shop?
Funnily enough, I don’t shop much these days – life is too busy with two small children and work combined. I am a sucker for online shopping, and then I do have my weaknesses, but it’s mostly children’s clothing. Shak-shuka.com is a favourite. I found most of my Christmas presents at our pop-up in Groningen. And I also always stop by Missibaba when I’m in South Africa!!
What other South African brands do you represent?
I represent Projekt crochet, also a Cape Town based studio doing the most wonderfully creative things with fine crochet. Their cactuses have been a long-running favourite with us! And I hope to take on more brands as time becomes less scarce – watch this space.
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Marian. Your store must be a lifeline for South Africans in the Northern Hemisphere, missing the exuberance of homegrown design, as well as a revelation for Northerners unfamiliar with what the South can do.
Sign up for The South is Blooming newsletter here. We can’t wait to see the pics from Marian’s upcoming Diggi Dot shoot!