&Sons. is a Durban-based freelance furniture and design studio run by Mike van Heerden. Drawing on his graphic design background, Mike creates customised artwork and furniture. Working mostly with wood, &Sons. also incorporates other materials into the creation of designs to reveal a unique and authentic product for any home or office space. His creations are quirky and forward-thinking and merge aesthetics with functionality, and traditional with contemporary design.

Great design is… In my opinion, great design is something that captures your attention and won’t let you turn your head. Not because it’s loud and in your face, but because when you look at it, it makes you want to take a closer look. There has to be an element of invitation about the design, allowing the viewer to interact with the design appearance and/or function.

… inspires me. Everything that I can see inspires me. Because beauty is such an important facet of life it influences the way I look at everything. I sometimes find that I’ll be staring at the most mundane thing/object and see an awesome angle or shape that I’d never seen before.

My favourite designer… To be honest, I don’t have any particular favourite designer. I am aware of some of the great/popular designers out there who I totally respect and am often in awe of, but I am solely interested in the designs themselves. Who the designer is doesn’t affect whether or not I like a particular design. However, in saying that, there are certain designers who in my opinion are great thinkers, which appeals to me far more. Two of the designers that come to mind are Richard Hart (South African designer) and Pit Hein Eek (Dutch furniture designer).

The future of South African design… South African design in my opinion is really good, and I believe that to some degree we are already in the future with regards to how successful South Africa’s design industry has been. When I look at great South African design I am reminded that I have far to go as a designer and that I still have a lot to learn. I’m really inspired by the work of “Pedersen and Lennard” as well as an emerging creative duo at Design Indaba 2013, called “Woltemade”. I think the playing fields have been levelled with regards to international design. I do however feel that the difference between South Africa and the rest of the world is that the buy in from the South African public could still be greater. 

Describe the inspiration behind your 2013 stand at Design Indaba… The inspiration behind my Design Indaba 2013 stand was utilising wood to create texture and designing the stand to emphasise my design pieces. My main focus pieces were my furniture items. These were what I wanted to be the focal point for my entire stand.

Mike was named Emerging Creative and Winner of the Most Creative Stand at Design Indaba Expo 2012. Watch an interview with the designer here:

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& Sons.