Simone Biggs, a 23 year old Interior Designer was chosen for the Emerging Creatives program as part of the Design Indaba this year, where she introduced her educational children’s chair.
The chair has an abacus in the back, the seat can be used to build words and sums, and there is a storage drawer underneath for the blocks. It can also be used for playing checkers. The blocks are currently primary colours, with 2 sets of uppercase letters, extra vowels, and numbers and symbols for sums. Simone is planning to add the lower case eventually, and is open to large orders in other colours. It is manufactured to hight quality standards by Meyer & Ferriera, a well established furniture manufacturer in Cape Town. The chair (in stock form) should be available to the public as of the end of April 2014 from Simone.
The chair was originally just a feature in a library that Simone designed as a student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), but it inspired so much enthusiasm amongst her those who saw it, especially her family and her 6 cousins bellow the ages of 10 years, that she decided to pursue it as a business venture.
After graduating with her 3year diploma in Interior design, Simone went on to work for a small company called Rivets & Rockets where she got to design shop fronts, products and one-offs, exposing her to many of the skills needed to get her chair launched. This showed her how, despite being trained as an interior designer, she could refine & redirect her knowledge, with just a little supplementation, to apply it to product design. I agree that we make too much of these compartments between design fields, creating unnecessary obstacles for creative solutions.
Earlier this year, she left her stable job, so that she could invest more time into the EduChair. She used this time to join the Emerging Creatives program. Her feedback on the program was that the program on the whole was amazing, but that she. Would have liked a mentor she could connect with. Someone who could give a quick connection, or word of encouragement when, as a young woman, she seems to hit a brick wall.
Some of the struggles she mentioned as we spoke were definitely connected to her youth (23yrs) and being female. They included finding a job, finances, and being respected or appreciated in the corporate and industrial worlds.
Her advice to other young designers, and especially design students shows some of the battles she has already faced in her time in design.
– See it through, & don’t drop out.
– Nothing good comes easily.
– You’ll get more experience at a small company than a big company.
Having reached her old goals (completing her studies, gaining work experience, & joining the Emerging Creatives); he new goals are to get the EduChair established locally in the South African market, and eventually abroad. Through all this she is still doing private interior design work, & adamantly maintains that her identity is as an interior designer who has a great product. She is currently working on both commercial and residential properties in this capacity.