VISI REAL SPACES

Please tell us about your business and the work you do.

Room 13 is a boutique graphic design studio based in Cape Town, and founded by sisters Michelle & Nina van Reenen. We create beautifully crafted, functional designs, tailored to each client’s unique needs. Our primary focus is on graphic design and art direction with applications ranging from logo’s, corporate identities, web design, BLT print collateral, and illustration. 

How long have you been in business / and in your current studio?

We’ve been in business for almost 10 years. We started as a two-man operation in our mother’s guest house in 2003 – in the 13th room.  As our company grew, we realised we needed a bigger space and bought our current studio in Victoria Junction in 2006.

Did you design the space yourself? 

We designed and renovated it quite a bit. It was a jeweller’s workshop before. There was a strange pod-like showroom in the middle of the space – it looked a bit like a space ship! We removed the pod, broke away the ceiling boards to expose the industrial beams, built in a little kitchen and transformed the shower into storage space. We painted everything white, even the floor.

Was the interior design inspired by anything in particular? 

We really wanted to create a space that was quite neutral, like a blank canvas that we could fill with beautiful things as time went by. We custom designed the wallpaper on the back wall. The design includes our keyhole logo and elements of luck and superstition.

In your opinion, what are the key design considerations for a workspace, especially in your particular field? 

It needs to be a quiet, uncluttered space that inspires at the same time. Each designer needs their own space and it’s important to have a central meeting space – especially for production meetings and brainstorming sessions.

And for a home space?

Michelle: Our personal styles are quite eclectic. I like organised clutter and lots of colour and textures, a space that is homely and tells of my travels and a life lived.

Nina: I like to approach each room differently; giving each a different personality and color scheme. My study is Old Worldly with decorative memoirs and shrines dedicated to important people in my life. My kitchen is 60′s retro, my bedroom is modern meets mid-century.

Where did you source the decor and furniture items in your studio?

We had all the desks custom made. The couch and ottomans were upholstered by our mom, Lanie van Reenen, who is an interior decorator. She also donated the beautiful baroque standing mirror, which she had made and shipped from Cairo.

How does this environment encapsulate or enhance the business you do?

It’s a very calming and neutral space, which helps a lot when you are busy or on a deadline. We also love the fact that it can evolve over time, like our work. We’ll probably redo the wallpaper in the near future and the couches have had a few make-overs.

And lastly, what do you think Cape Town’s title of World Design Capital 2014 will bring to the city?

Hopefully it will unify the creative community in Cape Town and create interesting collaborations between like-minded creatives. We also hope that design can become a vehicle to uplift the local communities in need.