Andrea Kleinloog (Anatomy Design) interview

We catch up with the dynamo behind South Africa's Anatomy Design.

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i. Our focus will always be to use the best of both craftsmanship and materials wherever possible — this study was designed and manufactured in matte oiled oak, with all the internal shop fitting in the same finish

ii. The Lab Light — voted 'Most Beautiful Object in South Africa' at the prestigious Design Indaba, 2010

iii. Anatomy Design Store in the unique destination shopping area in 44 Stanley Ave, Johannesburg. In the foreground: Ceramics from Number Nineteen and TJW Designs, as well the Lorriane Light in solid copper (named after a dizzy and delightful client)

iv. The custom designed chandelier for Netherwood Chapel — made up of a series of cast bronze swallows (by sculptor Michael Mawdsley) in various stages of flight

All photographs © Andrea Kleinloog 2012

Tell us about Anatomy Design.

A design studio founded through a recession, with some error and a lot of luck.

You live in Johannesburg. How does your environment affect your work?

It's an immensely real city. Equal parts sheer excitement and strife. There is no time, or space, for 'frivolous' design – manufacturing is basic, if not brutal. 

The constraints (realities?) definitely affect our design aesthetic, but also the products that we are able to make.  


"If you have to solve a practical problem, creativity will follow."

Your Lab Light got a lot of attention after being named 'most beautiful object in South Africa'. Was there pressure after so much focus on one product?

Never thought of it that way, but definitely.

It's funny, after designing one light, people expect you to have (and immediately available): stock / strategy / staff / certification / business plan / retail space / wholesale price / terms and conditions / press release / packaging.

Favourite design jobs so far?

Tricky… Our work varies so much, from a single object to full scope interior projects. 

The most heartfelt for me must be Netherwood [a wedding venue located on a working angus stud farm in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands]. It was a complex project, close to home.

Tell us about your process. How do you approach a job and how do you overcome creative blocks?

Solve the problem, creatively. If you have to solve a practical problem, creativity will follow.


"There is no time, or space, for 'frivolous' design — manufacturing is basic, if not brutal."

You got married in the Netherwood chapel you designed – how did that feel?

I was just thinking about that when I was answering the previous question. To be honest, I was checking if the builder had fixed the last set of snags! (And then there was the surreal bit…)

Design motto / rule of thumb?

From my ever wise and ever annoying husband: be honest, but be kind.

Who or what inspires you?

This question needs an entire page dedicated to it.

Kinfolk Magazine – amazing paper, simple thoughts, complex execution.

Vincent van Duysen – Belgian architect with the ability to make minimalism warm.

The elemental nature of Japanese architects like Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban.

The whimsy of Terrain and Amy Merrick.


"I have a plethora of amazing things I have collected over the years… Sadly they are still in boxes because I am convinced (incorrectly) that we will be moving soon."

What does your own home look like?

Too small, too much stuff. I have a plethora of amazing things I have collected over the years… Sadly they are still in boxes because I am convinced (incorrectly) that we will be moving soon.

Most difficult material you've worked with?

Copper. It's too soft, likes to bend, oxidizes, marks and scratches if you simply look in its direction.

Design pet hate?

Pinterest (and the people at Pinterest will probably take massive offense to that!).

People need to make more things, rather than just pinning things.

In an ideal world – with money, time and space no object – what would you be working on right now?

Our new shop.


www.anatomydesign.co.za