Kokon yarn was created to express my love of textiles and craft, to find an outlet for my creativity and my enquiring mind and to celebrate my heritage and history.
I was born in South Africa in Port Elizabeth, the capital of the Eastern Cape Province. From my earliest childhood memories I was always busy with craft, drawing, pottery, painting, embroidery, jewellery making, papier maché to name a few. I will never forget that as a small child of 4 or 5 years, I sewed an oven mitten for my nursery school teacher whom I adored. It had an odd shape, did not fit and almost fell apart, but I was so chuffed with my handmade gift that I wrapped it in a shoe box and proudly gave it to her.
My mother knew that with each birthday and Christmas present, if there were enough coloured pencils, coloured markers and drawing blocknotes included, the gift was perfect no matter what else was included.
I have two sisters and up until the age of about 6 years, my mom made all our clothes and dressed us identically, which I loved. We were her pride and joy and she sewed from yellow and white gingham bikini’s with little white square buckles, to winter dresses worn with turtle necks and stockings. I also had two grandmothers who not only dressed beautifully but also did embroidery and sewing. Pictured below my sisters and I in matching handmade clothing with our grandmother Irene in Cape Town.(I’m on the left)
A love of craft and handwork was always present in our home. My father in his free time was always busy with wood work. He was a house doctor and for each child he delivered he made a special gift from wood. I remember him making a Big Mack Truck for a special little boy and he used little dentist mirrors that he painted black as side view mirrors. My parents once made a combined Christmas gift for us. My dad made each of us three a little wooden baby bed and my mom made the doll’s clothing and bedding. Super excited I woke up around midnight on Christmas eve to find a little doll’s bed at the end of my bed and one for both my sisters. My parents celebrated by opening a bottle of champagne in the middle of the night.
After completing high school I studied Textile surface pattern design in Cape Town. I have always been crazy about patterns and colour. Less was never enough for me and I could get very lost in the tiniest of details. I thoroughly enjoyed my studies and here below are some artworks from this period.
Upon graduating I was filled with wonderlust and had never been outside of South Africa. I was eager to learn from the university of life and wanted to expand my boundaries. Soon after my studies I set foot out of South Africa and in a span of 16 years following moved between the Netherlands and South Africa twice. In these years I worked as a commercial surface pattern designer in the clothing business, a fashion stylist, fashion designer and as a product developer. I love learning on the job, so one job always sparked an interest in the next and so my working portfolio evolved.
After the birth of my second child the opportunity arose for me to start my own business. My parents whom I loved dearly had passed away respectively in 2002 and 2010 and in their memory I named my brand after them. My father’s nickname that he went by all his life was KOKO and my mother’s name was NELL. KOKON was born.
It brings me great joy to always have my parents with me in my creative Kokon journey. Pictured below are my parents at the start of their life together.
Kokon is an outlet for my creativity but also a place where I can vent my ideas about design, colour , texture and yarn.
I have always been intrigued by the emotive power of colour.
What it makes you feel and think when you look at it .
Colour is poetry.
Irresistible is also a word that has always driven my creative process. It started when I started to analize what irrisistable beauty in product means to me and which elements these products contain. In my work I am always sub consciously trying to create something of irresistible beauty.
Which brings me to my thoughts on design in general.
When Apple started to take over the digital market with their unique less is more designed products I was intrigued by their functional minimal design. Why are people so drawn to these products and why are they perceived as more beautiful or higher in quality.
I worked at Nike Europe for four years as a senior product developer. The Nike design ethos in high performance sportswear was based on stripping a product bare during the design process and keeping only the essential elements.
Between Apple and Nike I recognized and felt the beauty that great product and design has and how irresistible it can be. This formed my own ideas on design and colour.
I also love quietness, gentle surroundings, open spaces, few people, nature, away from the hustle and bustle. This love of the things more quiet and natural also form a thread in the creative process that forms Kokon.
It is my experience in my own clothing cupboard that I get more mileage out of basic coloured clothing pieces than bright multi coloured. As a lover of all things textile covered in multi coloured print I am by instinct drawn to clothing that shouts out. After many years of nothing I can combine in my cupboard I matured into a percentage of my cupboard in basic colours and I experience the joy of being able to wear a garment many seasons longer. This also forms my thoughts on design and colour. It should be timeless and contain elements that will always resound with the wearer even though fashion comes and goes.
I hope the above gives you an idea of who I am and how Kokon was formed from it. I hope you will join me on this creative journey.