Monday, August 24, 2009

OUT OF AFRICA ] Designer Vito Selma writes from Johannesburg


I don’t have a permanent spot in the office since I’m busy assisting George de Haast in all the site installations and client meetings. I work from every table and draw from the drafting corner that you saw in the photos. Everyday is a different day. There are days where we just stay in and I’m free to do anything i want (sleep and cook). Other days we work from 8am to 6pm. I also help at the furniture shop of George de Haast. I document the showroom and the new items coming in. While interning, I’m here also to take more photography lessons and other workshops. I’m planning on coming back next year for a longer time to continue my studies.

I love working here! For the past two years, the designs that I produced were from sketches and ideas from my last trip here three years ago. There’s something in the air and my surroundings that really inspire me. I love the balance of city and nature in Johannesburg. The city developed without too much altering in its natural surroundings. So when you drive by the city, you don’t feel like you are in Africa’s boom city. What’s different between working here and in my space in Cebu is that here I’m not working inside four walls. I feel like I’m working outdoors, which I love because I find most of my inspiration from nature. Everywhere I go and everything I see here inspires me, from the Mandela bridge to the redness of the African soil.

I am interning for George de Haast. He has been a designer since 1970 and was the pioneer creative partner of the iconic PLUS ONE stores. He spent years in the Middle East and Europe gaining an amazing list of clients from Nelson Mandela, Boris Becker, Sol Kerzner (owner of the chain of hotels that include Sun City), political families form all over the world, royal families in the Middle East. He has had projects from the South of Spain to the rest houses of the Saudi Arabian royals to vineyards in Cape Town. We (my family’s furniture company in Cebu) have been supplying George de Haast for 20 years now with furniture and accesories, and because of this, we can proudly say our furniture is in some of the most important homes in the world.

Under George de Haast, I try to learn everything I can. He has taught me everything i know about aesthetics. He brings me too meet the clients, the upholsterer, the contractors, in hopes that I learn something new and important from everyone. This is the kind of knowledge I prefer gaining and learning instead of books from school. I am a culmination of everyone I have met in my life so this way of learning is really the best for me. I have known George most of my life, he is family to us. My mom calls him "soulmate.”


This is my third trip to South Africa, a place I fondly call my second home. There is nowhere else in the world I feel just as much as home as I do in Cebu. Every trip here, I mature and learn more. I cannot explain what Africa does to you, it’s simply an experience that I wish everyone gets to try once in their life. They say, "You have to live in New York once in your life." I say Africa!

I think when you're in a different country, it definitely opens up one’s creative mind. You are more aware of things in a bigger perspective. When I’m in the Cebu, I always have to think "outside the box" but when im here I just have to soak everything in. I let ideas and inspirations freely flow into me and out through sketches. When I’m in a different country, it excites me. It excites my mind and my fingers. I wanna see everything and touch everything, everything seems to be almost "out of this world." That’s why I like taking photographs, I get to document everything I come by in life.

I love everything here. The people are warm and I guess I’ve never been to any other country where people are this polite. Another thing I love is the culture and how much of that culture people still carry around. They still proudly wear their clothes (costumes to us) on Sundays to church, they are proud of what they are and where they are from. When im not working, I go to the local markets, I go to the slums, I go to orphanages, I walk around the city, go to museums, basically meet people. I’m trying to soak in everything I can about the people and their culture.

Vito Selma is a young designer from Cebu training in Africa. In Manila, his pieces are sold at Ito Kish in LRI Plaza in Reposo Street, Makati City.

1 comment:

  1. All the best Vito! I would love to visit Johannesburg someday too :)

    ina gaston