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While styrofoam works well for planter boxes, they don’t look that great.

Especially when upcycling a second-hand styrofoam cooler box that shows signs of heavy usage and breakage.


Having some plank cut offs left over, but not enough to make a solid box, this is the resulting clever design to encase the styrofoam box in a practical way:


–  The few wooden planks we had left are efficiently meshed together to create a sturdy crate.

–  The planks are aligned with the structure of the styrofoam box to offer optimal support and protection.

–  As this is not a solid box, it’s not too heavy and has enough gaps to easily pick up and carry.

–  The bottom planks are covered in rubber for anti-slip grip and further protection of the wood and the surface this crate sits on.







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Part of Ranzani Design’s business model is to create jobs by outsourcing all expert skills to the people who can do it best.


Ranzani Design has the know-how of the production process for its products, but in order to achieve highest quality results it sources the talent from craftspeople who are experts in their field.


The Ranzani Salt & Pepper Grinders require expert craftsmanship for such immaculate wood turning results.

Sometimes these artisans are difficult to find.

That’s because expert craftsmanship is dying out.

Sadly, quite literally, as in a case where a factory pulled out of the work commitment, because the owner had passed away and his children were not up for such an intricate job.

Maybe in times of mass produced plastic products we don’t need these skills anyway.

Or maybe there is something to first needing to learn a trade in order to become a master.




The Ranzani Salt & Pepper Grinders require expert craftsmanship and professional tooling.


Criteria that are hard to come by in Cape Town.

Thus, the development process of the Ranzani Grinders needs to incorporate finding expert wood turning skills.


While the Ranzani Salt & Pepper Grinders might look simple on the outside, there’s a whole lot more going on inside:

Generally wood turners can accommodate the outside carvings.

But to turn the wood hollow is where most of them already turn down the job.

In addition, the mould needs to be turned out in a very specific form, to fit the milling mechanism precisely.

This is only possible with modern tooling, which is an investment many artisans can’t afford.


Ranzani Design‘s goal is to support local arts and crafts skills.

But with everything being cheaply mass-produced in China, this can turn into a real mission at times.


So it has been a long journey to finally establish a production line that is qualitatively, quantitatively and ethically fulfilling Ranzani Design’s standards.


But where there’s a will there’s a way and we’re very excited to see the new batch of Ranzani Design Salt & Pepper Grinders:


Wow! The bodies for the Ranzani Design Salt & Pepper Grinders look great!


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Ranzani Design Salt & Pepper Grinders are vibrant and colourful kitchen accessories to brighten up your dining area.

Each carefully handpainted, they add character to your dinner table.

So where to put the branding?

It has become the norm to display branding loud and in your face all over the product.

But when the product is handcrafted like the Ranzani Salt & Pepper Grinders, you don’t want to spoil it with marketing material.

Usually with craftwork the signature can be found on the underside of the product.

As the Salt & Pepper Grinders are used in the kitchen, the base needs to be very sturdy and hygenic.

A neat solution is to laser the maker mark into the wood.

Beautiful branding, literally:

© Ranzani Design




Collect your token! Enter the code below & swap them for freebies & discounts.

Collect your token! Enter the code below & swap them for freebies & discounts.


What a great idea: Every time I buy my favourite product I can collect tokens and exchange them for gimmicks.

However: A token of 14 (!) characters, all written in upper case to make reading even harder, is what I call non-userfriendly.

Surely the security level required for such a simple voucher scheme can do with half of the characters.

And surely it’s possible to print it in a more readable way, maybe all lower case since our phones automatically switch to lower case, too.

But making the voucher code so complicated that half of the consumers won’t even bother is also a great money saving strategy.  😮



Bad design versus good design

Bad design versus good design


When rescue puppies Starsky & Hutch popped into our lives for fostering, they came with a bunch of dog accessories: a dog bed, bowls and toys.


While Rogz Bubble Bowlz work perfectly, I’m disappointed about their Slurp Bowlz.


I’m surprised they actually make such a bad design: The Slurp Bowls are wider on the top than the bottom. That supposed non-slip silicone base is of no help when your puppies step into the bowl.
Which they do, all the time!


Even when you put the water bowl in the furthest corner, secured on two sides by wall or furniture, they somehow manage to step into it. Let alone that they jump into it at most play sessions.


Our dog’s water bowl has a wide bottom and narrow top. Even when the puppies jump right into it, it stays put. When they step onto it, their paws simply slip to the ground along the curved outer surface. It serves as the communal water source, because it works so well.


As a back-up especially in hot weather, the Slurp Bowlz are in the bathrooms. Because they topple over all the time, the only place where I can keep them is our open plan shower, where it’s ok if water spillage occurs.


If you apply the good practice industrial design principle ‘Form follows Function’, you get to a result like this super practical, multi functional travel dog bowl: Poochie Bowl.


So do yourself a favour and watch out for good design in pet water bowls. A good start is to opt for bowls with a wide base. It can save you a lot of mopping and sweeping! 🙂


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Happy Eggster!

Happy Eggster!


Wishing you the best of luck in your egg hunt!


May all your egg cups be filled aplenty. 🙂


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This water saving tap is not only very efficient in reducing water usage, it also makes pretty patterns.

This water saving tap is not only very efficient in reducing water usage, it also makes pretty patterns.


In an effort to conserve water new ideas are being implemented, new products are being created.


Here a great example of a water saving tap at the Woodstock Exchange:


A simple, yet so efficient idea, and in addition to fulfilling its purpose, it’s also beautiful!


No surprise this concept by Simin Qiu won the 2014 IF Concept Design Award.


Thanks to clever designs like these it is stylish to upgrade to water saving. #EveryDropCounts


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Southern Guild's exhibition 'Stellar' is worth a visit.

Southern Guild’s exhibition ‘Stellar’ is worth a visit.


The Southern Guild’s exhibition Stellar wows with a uniqueness and newness that inspires to design materials in a way no-one had dared before.


Every single piece has a quality to it that you can feel a life’s effort went into it. The craftsmanship is humbling in its dedication to detail.


Attending the walkabout where the designers were present and filled their art pieces with stories and struggles added depth and personality.


But the designs speak for themselves. It is easy to get submerged in the features of the physical embodiment representing a great concept that emerged from the love for the medium and the sheer will to transform it into new sculptural heights.


Stellar is running until the 14th of October, go see for yourself:



Having fun with hard boiled eggs: Check out these egg faces! ;)

Having fun with hard boiled eggs: Check out these egg faces ! 😉


I used to be super pedantic about boiling eggs perfectly right and of course, don’t forget to shock the freshly boiled eggs by rinsing them under cold water so they are easy to peel.

Then I learned that many factors have an influence on how easy it is to peel the egg: How you boil them, how you cool them, what you add to the water, how old the eggs are, their pH factor.

With all these variables chances are you still don’t get it right. Researching advice brings up conflicting results, sometimes the exact opposite is recommended.

Plus, most egg peeling hacks require to cool down the eggs before peeling them. I prefer my egg to still be hot.

So I’m focusing on the method of peeling an egg:


Easy way to peel an egg

1) Crack the egg open on the round side where the air pocket sits.

2) Roll the egg on a hard surface with the palm of your hand.

3) Start peeling at the blunt end. The air bubble should give you the chance to lift the eggshell membrane.

4) Carefully pull the membrane together with the eggshell in spirals off the egg.


Good luck! 🙂


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Happy Easter from Ranzani Design 🙂


Easter’s coming up and you might want to boil and paint some eggs for the festivities.


Easy way to make hard boiled eggs

1) Place the eggs in a tight fitting pot and cover them with water.

2) Bring the water to boil, so that the bubbles make the eggs wobble.

3) Switch off the heat and let the eggs sit until the water has cooled down to room temperature.

4) Serve in Ranzani Africa Egg Potjies, and add a dash of colour to the kitchen! 🙂



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Artwork © Christian Ranzani

Artwork © Christian Ranzani


Taking the pitfalls of building our own home with a smirk:

What better thing to do than to adorn the cracks in our newly built walls with little comical characters. 🙂


If you can spot where this little guy is taking a cross-country adventure drive in our house, it’s a free coffee for you, on the house!


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Even our puppy Lola looks on in shock as the water just keeps pouring into our house from the leaking flat roof.

Even our puppy Lola looks on in shock as the water just keeps pouring into our house from the leaking flat roof.


Oh my, there’s a lot to consider with a flat roof. It seems to always come with problems…


And we don’t even have a flat roof, we just have a roof walkway. But that’s the weak point, and it leaks.

Assessing the damage on the roof walkway: This is where the water accumulates and seeps through.

Assessing the damage on the roof walkway: This is where the water accumulates and seeps through.


So when everyone rejoices that Cape Town is being blessed with rain, for us it also means we better get going to assess and sort the mess:



Of course we catch whatever water possible with buckets and pots. But most of the water runs down the wall, there’s no way to capture it besides mopping it up.


And of course we’re in the process of fixing that stretch of flat roof. But only the next rainy day will tell…



Note how the ‘Save image as…’ function is not available on Flickr.

Note how the ‘Save image as…’ function is not available on Flickr when downloading images is disabled.


It’s a dilemma every creative is facing:

Sharing your content and getting exposure OR protecting your art work from piracy.


Here’s how to get the best of both:

Not all platforms are treating your content with the security measures it deserves to be protected from plagiarism or copyright infringement. A simple ‘copy and paste’ or ‘right click and save as’ can mean your content going viral without any attribution linking back to you.


Make sure you stay in control of your content by publishing it on

online portfolio sites you can trust:



Flickr allows you to set your images as not downloadable to others. While this doesn’t stop anyone from saving a screengrab, it’s at least sending a clear message that these images are your intellectual property.

In addition Flickr offers you to embed your images from their platform, meaning all their security efforts stay intact with your picture.


Your own website

Using any third party platform means you are subjected to their rules and could get your account deleted without much you can do about it. Having a home for your content establishes you as the first point of contact for your content. There are many free services for creating an online portfolio website to choose from.



Behance lets you acknowledge the people involved in the art work properly, so there’s no excuse not to give credit where credit is due. Behance makes citing all these individuals really easy.



Dribble uses small screenshots to let you promote your work. This is a low resolution intended only for quick snapshots showcasing work in progress.



DeviantArt is the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts, and promotes a strong Community Etiquette Policy and Copyright Policy.


I had a shower and this is the result: Wet puppy footprints everywhere.

I had a shower and this is the result: Wet puppy footprints everywhere. 😉

No really, open plan is great.

Our bathroom is fully open plan. It’s a great design by The Workplace Architects and it works beautifully.

Of course the lavatory has a door, but other than that everything is freely accessible without any barrier in the way: The wet area is only divided from the main bedroom by a freestanding wall. Basin, bathtub and shower are enclosed in niches, and thus need no doors.

It makes the entire bedroom feel like a hotel suite, where you can just throw your clothes on the easy chair and simply walk into the shower as is. It is an invitation to let loose and enjoy the basics of life, unimpeded, surrounded by ergonomic functionality, everything is a flow.


But of course, in a hotel suite there are hardly ever puppies or children.

With unhindered access in a completely open plan house, and the everlasting attention seeking impulse to follow or find you wherever you go, the only hiding place that remains is, ehem, the toilet.

But then again, who’d ever want to hide away from these cuties anyway. 😉

So yes, thanks to our open plan, me taking a shower means our puppy taking a shower. And tappeditapp her wet footprints are everywhere. 🙂

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With plaster and paint coming off the house reveals: It was at some point pink!

With plaster and paint coming off, the house reveals: It was at some point in the past pink! 🙂

Beneath all the layers of paint and plaster it looks like at some point in its 100 year long lifespan our house was pink! Somehow I find this reassuring. 🙂


25 Greatmore Street Renovation - Last look back: This is never going to look the same again.

Last look back: This is never going to look the same again.

Well, it’s too late to contemplate if we should’ve made a plan or not. Because we kind of just started anyway.

We’re well underway of demolishing all the old stuff that’s beyond repair, so there’s no turning back.

It’s been a jump into freezing cold water – quite a wake-up call – and now we’ve got to swim it!

Welcome to the crash course ‘How to build a house‘! 😉


Get a first glimpse of Ranzani Egg Potjies at Open Design

Ranzani Africa Egg Potjie in red with gloss.

Ranzani Africa Egg Potjie in red with gloss.

Launch of Ranzani Africa Egg Potjies at Open Design

You are kindly invited to the launch of the Ranzani Africa Egg Potjies this weekend,15/16, and next weekend, 22/23 August, at Open Design.

Pop by and meet Ranzani Trading Design from 12:00 to 13:00 at the Maker Stations stand, Watershed at V&A Waterfront.

The Ranzani Egg Potjies are miniature versions of what is used to make the traditional South African “potjiekos”, literally meaning ‘small pot food’.

Have your Sunday breakfast egg with a dose of fun and a dash of colour. Alternatively use Ranzani Egg Potjies as pinch pots to serve salt and pepper in. They also work well as tea light candle holders.

Ranzani Egg Potjies bring South African flair to your kitchen table:

  • Modelled after the South African “potjie”, a three legged cast iron cooking pot
  • A fun way to serve soft- or hard-boiled eggs within their shell
  • Dual purpose: Use as pinch pots to serve sea salt or crushed peppercorns, or use as tea light candle holders
  • High quality porcelain guarantees durability and pure colour brilliancy
  • Handmade by local crafts people, making each Ranzani Egg Potjie unique

See photos of Ranzani Egg Potjies on Ranzani Design Flickr.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of this design update.

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Creative Communications Photo - Redesigned Customer Journey

The redesigned customer journey results in an improved customer mood. – Presentation by Robert Bloom, Partner/Founder DT Group and DT Academy


The Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) is running a series of interesting events around Service Design.

At the CCDI business breakfast on Service Design Gillian Benjamin and Robert Bloom gave a comprehensive overview:

Service design is the premeditated design of customer experiences from beginning to end. It focuses on the interaction with customers, and will allow you to see ways of improving service and related customer experiences.

Service Design introduces new vocabulary such as Touchpoint and Customer Journey. With such it is quite a game changer in focussing further on customer satisfaction.


How can Service Design benefit your business or organisation?

Start seeing the Touchpoints, think of the memories you want to evoke:

  1. Really understand the customer: What really counts, major preoccupations, worries and aspirations.
  2. Understand customer pains, and make them easy.
  3. Understand the emotional bond between the brand and customer.
  4. Align the company actions to build emotional bonds
  5. Form a holistic, human centered view of the customer experience.


Prototyping helps you to fail early, it’s about learning from your mistakes. Where failure is generally regarded as negative, prototyping ensures you fail forward.

But how do you prototype a service?

  1. Understand your customer: Create persona profiles of your most active customers.
  2. Put yourself into the customer’s shoes: Think of a great service experience. What made it great?
    • A smile: the human touch
    • Turning an order into a present: expectations met and exceeded
    • Clear information delivery: empowerment through transparency
    • Super fast transactions: speedy turnaround
    • Quick production line: no more waiting
    • Turning a complaint into a reward: appeasing disgruntled customers
    • Have a clear point of contact: one-stop-shop with all the answers
  3. Model the situation in order to work out where you could change it, then test with real people how they interact in this space, change it and test again.
  4. Make things tangible and visible:
    • Services are perceived not to be physically tangible but there are lots of ‘touching’ elements to it.
    • Put up a big board, use post-its, visualise the processes, take photos, watch.
    • Storyboard up your customer interaction, then play it through with the different personas, the different engagements that can happen.
  5. Do role playing with staff, so they understand the customer’s point of view.
  6. Find out what the people like about the process and strengthen on that.


So, what are the principles of service design?

  1. Iteration: This is a constantly changing environment and you need to constantly adapt to it.
    • Analyse the status quo, does it work? If it doesn’t, iterate to the next best solution: Develop, implement, redevelop, reimplement.
    • ‘Upcycle’: Never stay with the status quo, keep on iterating, never stop in the development, think in cycles.
  2. Crowdsource: By canvassing a large crowd of people for ideas, skills, or participation, the quality of content and idea generation will be superior.
  3. Cocreate: Lower your risk bycocreating and getting real results.
    • Cocreate solutions by involving your staff:

– Empower your staff to solve problems themselves, to make decisions. Otherwise they will not know what to do, this way you get their buy-in and strengthen loyalty and morale.
– Have people working as a team, not in competition to each other.
– Share values and believes, get staff to identify with your goals by being transparent and informative about them.

    • Cocreate with the customer:

– Do your home work: Research your customer preferences.
– Get customer feedback early. Allow easy feedback channels.
– Launch a beta version with an exclusive customer base. Involve them by gathering their comments, learn their opinions, take on their recommendations, ask them for solutions.


For more information on Service Design:

Cape Craft and Design InstituteService Design training

Design Thinkers GroupService Design downloads

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Having fun at the Design Policy Conference, as part of World Design Capital.


Policy making is generally associated with bureaucracy, red tape and politics.

So when I was invited to the Design Policy Conference as part of the World Design Capital initiative, I was curious:

How do people from an industry that strives to push creativity to its max, turning ideas into innovation deal with policy making?


Here’s what I took away from the Design Policy Conference:


  • Design is in everything

Everything around us is designed. Often this only becomes apparent when we encounter design fails.

In the end, a well designed product means it was well thought through, taking into account every possible user and their specific needs.

Unfortunately in nowadays times of cheap Chinese products and rushed to launch apps, this gets all too often forgotten. Especially in industries that don’t think of themselves as creative, but stick to traditional conservatism.

What I learned: Get a designer’s input, it can offer a new perspective and solution.


  • Design centers around us humans

Ulrich Meyer-Höllings: “Designers and those that think like designers could be the perfect CEOs in businesses as designers have all of the skills required to survive and prosper in this turbulent environment. Industries that are struggling to survive like banks and media are now trying to learn new processes from designers such as understanding people and their behaviour. Designers can redefine the business landscape and inject a more people-centred view.”

What I learned: We are human by birth, but we are people by design. (Dale Dutton)


  • Design needs policing

Whereas there’s a lot of criticism towards ‘Design by Committee’, which apparently results in a camel for a horse, there needs to be a direction in order to achieve results.

However, you can have the bestest policies, it still takes people to implement it. That’s why a solid Design Strategy is required to provide that plan to put things into action.

As Carlos Scheliga pointed out: Design Policies need to be a society decision, you need to have the engagement of the citizen. It needs to be a state policy, not a government policy. Shift the mindset: Design can improve all public services. The city is the natural environment of the human being. It’s our nature to be together.

He added: “People are mobilising, organising, conducting or exerting pressure for transformations. Depending on how this popular participation interacts with city administrations, it could represent a great opportunity to build the desired city. It is clear, therefore, that design policies can catalyse the improvement of urban space and should involve the participation of citizens.“


  • Design can’t collaborate too much

Once the goal is clear, it seems with design you can’t have enough input. As with techniques to stimulate creativity such as brainstorming: No idea is a bad idea. Any idea can spark off something great.

But how can the public truly be involved in the decision making process? As with all good ideas, solutions don’t have to be complicated: One good example are the WDC stickers, which rate whatever people think is design.

What I learned:
One of the key reasons policy making takes so long is because the parties involved don’t trust each other. Collaboration needs trust. Trust can be achieved through relationship, which can be formed through interaction, which can be sparked through experiences, which can happen at events such as the Design Policy Conference, for example: the War Horse performance.


  • Design is cool enough to make mistakes

Whereas people in the public services space fear failure, in design errors are forced out early to guarantee a fool-proof product through the process of prototyping. Other industries could implement similar techniques to gather real results quicker and find a sustainable solution faster.

What I learned: Policy making and business decisions could be improved by incorporating design thinking. (Richard Perez)


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Ceramic heart painted in dry brush technique

In the spirit of gifting: Make a personalised Mother’s Day present.

When it comes to finding a present for Mother’s Day I prefer something personalised, something that comes from the heart.

So I looked for inspiration and came across John Bauer’s exquisite ceramics. One of his signature artistries is to imprint fine lace and other knitted patterns into his porcelain.

As with all people who have found their true calling, John is thriving on exercising his talents. He has produced a many beautiful things. One very endearing one is a ceramic heart you can stick to the refrigerator.

I was fortunate enough to snatch one up, as I felt this makes the perfect Mother’s Day gift. The heart itself with its fragile delicateness of detailed designs is gift enough. But I wanted to personalise it.

John Bauer is also incorporating a special clay mixing technique that leaves lovely traces of colour in the pottery. This made my decision a tough one, but I chose to paint over it.

There is a simple enough dry brush painting technique that works especially well if the surface has a high contrast structure. And so the results were stunning: With very little effort the decorative reliefs sprung out and came to life.

Using different colour saturation and dryness, I created various looks on the different parts of the heart, exaggerating an in-depth, almost 3D appearance. This was fun! And it enabled me to give the heart for my mom a very personal touch.

As the heart is so light, I could post it like a normal letter. I can’t celebrate Mother’s Day with my mum in person, but now I can at least send a small token of my love instead.

If you’d like to learn how to dry brush or where to purchase John Bauer’s ceramic hearts, please contact me:

Happy Mother’s Day!

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