Vogel Design, Woodstock Cape Town

Words: Julie Velosa

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Based in the creative hub of Woodstock, Cape Town, Vogel Design is an ethically minded business that creates timeless, original furniture pieces. Owner John Vogel is an architect-turned-furniture-designer, with a strong belief in sustainable, organic design that is both imaginative and functional. We chat to John about his business and design aesthetic…
Organic inspiration is clearly a major influence in your work, tell us about this…
Organic is nature inspired, intersections blend, there is a balance between hard structure and flowing form.

Some of your pieces connect together in almost a puzzle-like way, is this representative of a connection to nature?
It’s about exploring the ideas of interconnectedness, and interaction of parts that make up the whole. It is also about the playful interaction by the user with the piece.Vogel-Design
Does owning a bespoke design company in a country like South Africa have unique challenges?
Sure, our local market is small, there are no big design houses to promote designers work and to pay royalties, skills are in short supply, labour laws and red tape are plentiful, we are far from Europe and US markets, which means we have a transport cost disadvantage to those markets, the list goes on…Vogel-Design
What is the most important decision you made to get you to where you are today?
My best friend at Archi school asked me if I wanted to work over the holidays and start a furniture factory… I said yes.

If you could design a piece of furniture to save the world, what would it be and why?
For now, I think that it would have to be a brightly coloured woven armchair that dissolves religious dogma from within the user, whilst enhancing a strong sense of universal connection, inner peace and brotherly love. It would also instantly transmute any desire to behead anything or anyone.

What would your 5-year old self say to you about what you do now?
Well, at first he may be disappointed, he wanted to be a bird vet. But then, I think he would be stoked about all the power tools, especially the chainsaw. He may be a bit bummed by the responsibilities.

At Crush we love everything about food, so invariably things return to this subject. So, if you had to design a meal that represented your brand, what would it be?
Organic local ingredients, good taste, made by hand on an open fire, elegantly served, with lingering flavour. It would involve home baked bread, Karoo lamb, a hand woven picnic mat, a tree, good wine, peaches panned over a fire in sherry, with Swiss ice cream.

We see you pledge trees through Greenpop, who we happen share office space with, tell us about this…
We consume trees, so planting them is about giving back, being mindful, creating balance.Vogel-Design
Quickfire Questions

Music on your playlist when you are designing… Sigur Ross
Drink to unwind at the end of the day… If I did, maybe a Remy Martin.
Favourite Cape Town go-to spot… Tokai, mountain biking trails. The ones that face down.
Pet peeve… M3 traffic.
Person, dead or alive, to be stranded on an island with… After my wife, Spider Murphy. He shapes outstanding surfboards, which would come in handy on the island breaks.
Final question… can design save the world?
Design can be about applying creativity to a problem in order to produce an elegant and tangible solution, so yes. And… we are all designers.

vogeldesign.co.za | The Woodstock Foundry, 160 Albert Road Woodstock.

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