1. wie is ons?

WitOpWit (WOW) is ’n konsepfabriek wat idees, produkte, ervarings en installasies ontwikkel rondom plekke, geleenthede, kos – eintlik enigiets. WOW is die breinkind van drie argitekte, Karlien Thomashoff, Inge Wilkinson en Marguerite Pienaar.  Hoewel al drie van ons reeds toekennings ontvang het vir ons geboue in ons onderskeie praktyke, is ons passie vir ontwerp nie beperk tot die bouperseel nie. Besoek gerus ons blog by www.witopwit.co.za of volg ons op facebook om ons beter te leer ken.

2. Hoekom WitOpWit (WOW)?

Ons hou van die belofte van ‘n skoon, wit stuk papier of skoon palet vir ongeskrewe teks, ‘n skets, ‘n storie. Vir ons het dit dadelik ‘n verbintenis met ons beroep as argitekte, en tergelykertyd met papier wat die hoofrol speel in ons produkte: gesny, gevou, gedruk.  Wit het, soos enige kleur, skakerings, en derhalwe Wit op Wit – wat die bonus het dat die akroniem “WOW!” is.


3. What does WOW do?

We develop concepts around events, stationary, a range of products – combining our passion for design and being in South Africa right now.  For the past year, we explored different notions of “crafting” the topography of South African cities.  Recognizing patterns of significance, WoW proves that cartography and urban form can be made into utilitarian art.  We decided that our products should tell a story, and should be more than beautiful graphics or objects – an underlying concept should provide the impetus for each product as part of a bigger story, re-imagining the city. The “city-in-a-box” range therefore explores the topography of South African cities, starting with Pretoria, which is also our hometown.


4. What are the table-runners made of?

One of our products, essentially table-runners, or as we like to call them: “conversation pieces” – are high definition prints and/or laser cuttings.  The original conversation piece prints measure 2500 x 600mm.  The idea of the table-runner is simple – have your meal “on the city”, but many happy clients have decided to also frame it and hang it on a wall. We have recently started to also print and combine laser-cutting of these on 1800mmx600mm vinyl, linen and poly-cotton.


5. Are the map-references significant?

Yes, each was carefully selected, redrawn, or traced to reveal the DNA of each city, its topography, layering and complexity.  While these are beautiful graphics in themselves, the maps also therefore tell us a unique story of each city.  We like that each map allows for re-imagining of our cities in a myriad of ways. The prints of Bloemfontein are of original hand-drawn maps which were done in the early 1970s – if one looks carefully you will for example see the fountain around which the city originated, the topography and resultant cardo decumanus of its layout and so on. We post information on our blog and or facebook that is useful to “read” these maps.

The maps of Pretoria, Cape Town and Joburg are careful drawings of either Nolli maps or street layouts (The Nolli map has its origin in Rome where the Italian architect Giambattista Nolli (1701 – 1756) did iconographic plans of Rome, universally known today as Nolli maps and used as a tool to analyze and better understand cities). The Pretoria maps in particular were derived from a digital Nolli map that was done by architect Morne Pienaar when he was a student.  He had lovingly redrawn and also layered the outline of every single building of the inner city over time, as a Nolli map.


6. How is Pretoria cool to you?

The parts of the city that we love are not commercial, it’s not in-your-face, it’s softer than Jozi, subtler than Cape Town and you have to look harder to find whatever your definition of “cool” is. We love the fact the city always surprises us, whether it’s a hidden mosque, the magical displays of spaza shops on sidewalks, a conversation with a local in Marabastad, Benin figureheads in its centre or the unexpected skeleton of a massive whale when you round a corner.


7. How do you decide on a product line?

As architects, we are probably biased in our selection of product line – which revolves around things we love – the city, its topography, its architecture, its stories and people.  Our first product line therefore explores a series of South Africa’s cities to literally “re-imagine” each city.   We had such fun learning about our cities in the process of making, and we hope our clients will also enjoy a process of discovery.

We are currently working on the last two cities that will form part of the series on “crafted topography”, namely Johannesburg and Cape Town.  Look out for the culmination of the series in the finale of the product line at the Design Indaba 2014.