South African designer Jacques Cronje has always had a soft spot for timber. In the early 2000s he broke away from conventional architecture to specialise in timber buildings. While his endeavour was initially frowned upon – as timber wasn’t a popular material then – he’s since gone on to design timber buildings for residential and commercial clients in South Africa, Mozambique and Nigeria.
His love of the natural material – which was enhanced during 15 years of living in Knysna, a densely forested region in the Western Cape – led to the launch of Minima design in 2014. Makers of digitally-cut wooden lighting and furniture, Minima has created over 30 different styles of ceiling lights made from birch-ply or bamboo, a series of occasional stools, including the playful Baobab duo, his Modulus range of clip-together stools and the award-winning bench, Flow.
Jacques’s work is regularly featured in leading South African design and décor media and has been shown at the biannual SARCDA event twice, Design Indaba, 100% Design as well as Maison et Objet in Paris. His sophisticated style also caught the eye of the CBI, a Dutch-funded programme that is run in collaboration with the South African Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI). It seeks to identify and expose fresh South African design talent to the EU market.
Minima’s appeal is its simplicity. Using geometry and curved forms, pieces clip together like a giant puzzle. The innovative system applies to all designs, including the Flow bench. At 2.4m it can either stand alone as a piece or be arranged in continuous seating. It also lends itself to creating pause or resting clusters in larger waiting and open areas. The Flow bench won the first prize in the annual Department of Trade and Industry (dti) National Furniture Design Competition’s established designer category.
By combining his design sense and use of digital technology with a love for wood, Jacques finds a deep sense of fulfilment in creating pieces of functional wooden art that act as statement pieces of furniture or lighting.