The concept for a website showcasing local design talent was born out of frustration.

Cape Town couple Kerry and Bobby Hugill created Meekel after they found themselves searching for originality in a sea of mass production and convenience.

The two realised that pieces featured on the pages of glossy magazines were often not readily available, so they set out to create an online shop that showcased South African designs.

The couple work in design, Kerry as a graphic designer and Bobby as an architect.

“I like to believe this creative background helps us spot the true gems,” said Kerry.

“We’ve always loved beautiful things, particularly when they’re well crafted, and a little bit different from the usual items you can find in big commercial stores. However, we found that to get our hands on these items can be incredibly difficult. You see a great item in a magazine or online, but then to get hold of the artist is problematic and the excitement of the find gets lost in the frustration of trying to make the purchase. So, we decided to rectify this problem and make great designs more accessible.”

Design enthusiasts can now browse Meekel’s online collection and have items delivered directly to their doors. Products on the site are divided into three categories: individual, homeware and furniture.

The individual category includes a mix of jewellery, accessories, lifestyle products, items for children, beauty products and fragrance brands, such as OYA, Armilla, Just Pure, Skinny laMinx, Matblac, Fondant Textiles and The Wren Designs.

Homeware offers a selection of cushions, linen, ceramics, lighting, artwork and décor by designers such as Jesse Breytenbach, Sera Holland, Jar Lights, Aboda, Essie Letterpress, Gemma Orkin and Jared Odell.

Furniture has categories for armchairs, chairs and stools, sofas, tables and storage.

The name of the online shop was inspired by Bobby’s mother, whose maiden name was chosen out of respect for her enormous passion for living life to the fullest.

Kerry said they carefully select each artist or designer and pick key items from their range. “We look for the elusive ‘wow’ quality, be it in terms of creativity, beauty, quality or quirkiness.”

They see their site as an endorsement of quality in design and manufacturing, and say it is important that every piece for sale upholds the high standards for which Meekel hopes to become known.

“The site has a really personal feel, “ said Kerry. “We might only stock one item by a certain designer because we handpick everything instead of taking the entire range.”

She said designers and artists had been receptive to the idea. “Most are keen to be involved. I think they can find the selling process as frustrating as we used to find the buying process, so Meekel allows them a convenient outlet. We’re always extending our range, but are careful to choose only designers and items we feel meet our standards.”

The website went live towards the end of last year. “We’re incredibly proud of how well it’s been received so far.

Kerry said their goals were twofold. First they want to bring all the best designs and products to the SA public, and eventually internationally. “We’ll continue to expand the selections until Meekel is the undeniable go-to-place for quality South African design.

“And we also want to showcase the artists – bring their work to light and help people to understand that what we’re producing in our own country is as good as anywhere else in the world.” - Sunday Argus

* www.meekel.co.za