Storage is, at its core, functional. But as the lines between design, furniture and architecture begin to blur, storage solutions are bridging the divide.
Up the Wall
‘I generally advise clients to keep to clean designs with versatile functionality so that when circumstances change or a household develops, the designs can be used again’ – James Mudge, designer
James Mudge is a Cape Town-based furniture designer and manufacturer whose fusion of traditional techniques with a contemporary aesthetic have made him the go-to craftsman for bespoke timber designs. Here he shares some insight into the how, what and why of custom-made storage systems.
Q: What storage/shelving trends appeal to you and what is it about them that appeals?
A:I like shelving systems that are light and unobtrusive to a space, adding to form while providing function.
Q: If a client came to you with an open brief to create a custom made storage or shelving system how would you advise them on the design?
A:Firstly, it would depend on their needs and where it will be situated in their home or business. However I generally advise clients to keep to clean designs with versatile functionality, so that when circumstances change or a household develops, the designs can be used again and again to create useful and beautiful new spaces.
‘Joinery can very often be a heavy line item on your cost estimate or construction cost, so do it once and do it well. But at the same time, it’s an easy element to alter’ – Jo Anderson, architect
Architect Jo Anderson, who in addition to having her own practice is also programme manager at the Green Building Council of SA, shares her tips on what to consider when integrating storage into the design of your home.
Q: What do you favour, built-in storage or freestanding systems?
A:It all depends on what the space calls for. Personally I like anything that’s efficient, clever and works with the space as a whole. So much value is added by striking the balance between hiding things away neatly and creating a canvas for special items to be displayed.
Q: Tell us about the solutions you’ve come up with whereby storage space has been incorporated beneath stairs.
A:This is a simple, accessible storage solution, but only if the space calls for it. Filling the space below a stair can make the room seem smaller. Get a good carpenter to build the stair and a good joiner to build the cupboards, and make sure they can accommodate all the items you need to store – high enough for a fridge and sufficiently wide for a dishwasher, for example. The tall, slim pull-out for grocery storage is a good solution. And don’t forget the slot for the brooms, vacuum, bins and dog food.
Q: What is the one thing you’d advise clients on when wanting to incorporate storage into the architectural design of a home?
A:Because joinery can very often be a heavy line item on your cost estimate or construction cost, do it once and do it well. But at the same time, it’s an easy element to alter, so if your situation does change, don’t be afraid to play with a space by adapting the storage – putting a desk under the bunk bed, for example.
Q: What other underutilised spaces in a home could readers consider using for storage?
A:Corner spaces are always tricky and it’s sometimes better to pull the units apart to create the illusion of more space. That being said, they can always be filled with something like a tea corner or used as a storage spot for the toaster in the kitchen.
- JL Joiners and Shopfitters: jljoiners.com
- James Mudge: jamesmudge.com
- Margraf: margraf.it
- Lilja Löwenhielm Design: liljalowenhielm.com
- Porada: porada.it
- Maldini: maldini.co.za
- Chateau de la Resle: chateaudelaresle.com
- Pietro Russo: pietrorusso.com
- Raanan Stern: raananstern.com
- Joined + Jointed: joinedandjointed.com
- Stokperd: stokperd.com
- Meike Harde: meikeharde.com
- Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects: austinarchitect.com
- Levitate Architects: levitate.uk.com
Words:Genevieve Putter, Julia Freemantle
Photographs:Cindy Taylor, Gidon Levin, Whit Preston, supplied