Selecting the winning stands at an Expo renowned for excellence in design is no easy task. This year, we invited lifestyle industry leaders and experts, Therina Pienaar, Kevin Reed and Lené Smit to judge the top stands at the 2018 Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo. We chatted to them about this year’s judging process and what it takes to win.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

Therina Pienaar: I studied a B.Ed majoring in Design, after which I taught high school and eventually moved to the university where I started the Interior Design faculty. I am passionate about community outreach and design and this passion eventually led to me being named a finalist for the Business Woman of the Year award.

Kevin Reed: I am the Deputy MD and Financial Director of Algoa FM, a commercial radio station broadcasting in the Eastern and Western Provinces and currently the commercial radio station of the year. My passions are food and travel and gladly these two go hand in hand. Having the best time, for the right reason with great people in a fabulous environment, makes me feel “way cool”. I have travelled extensively and appreciate the diversity of culture coupled with trends that arise from both international and local influences.

Lené Smit: My name is Lené Smit. I’ve been married for 22 years to an amazing husband and am the mother of a very smart teenage son. I have had the privilege of being a lecturer at the Interior Design department at Nelson Mandela University for the past 18 years, and i’m currently the programme leader. I thus find myself in an exciting position, helping to shape young people’s thought processes in order to become creative designers — designers with fresh ideas that will help shape the world that surround us one day. I’m involved in stage design projects at my church, Impetus, and do some freelance design projects when time allows it.

Lené Smit

Where is your hometown and has this been a source of inspiration for you? How?

Therina Pienaar: I was born in the Okavango in Zambia and moved to Port Elizabeth over 35 years ago. My work in outreach projects, and urban and rural communities, has shown me that this region of South Africa is full of heritage. In the development of new products, we look at what’s available in terms of skill and historical influence. Port Elizabeth makers create products that are a true reflection of our heritage, people and our natural raw materials.

Kevin Reed: I have lived in Port Elizabeth for 40 plus years and I believe it is indeed a friendly city. As I believe it is a city with a small town atmosphere, it emphasises the need to have a styling home for home entertainment.

Lené Smit: I have called Port Elizabeth home for the last 18 years, but I grew up in Pretoria. My surroundings are definitely always a source for inspiration. I love to integrate the surrounding nature elements with our unique local urban architecture, and use them as inspiration for designs. I analyse it in detail and incorporate it abstractly into my designs.

The theme for this year’s Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo is “For Real Homes”. What design choices do you make to bring an authentic element into your living space, and do you have any advice for our visitors?

Therina Pienaar: Recycle your home products and use found objects to create something personal. I am busy collecting sea glass from our nearby beach to make a chandelier, for example. My opinion is that a real home should reflect the personality of the person who lives in it. When you walk into a house, you should see personal preferences effortlessly. Design a home, not a show house. My advice would be to become more individualistic than to follow trends. Your home should be a reminder of life, travels and what’s important to you.

Kevin Reed: Real Homes immediately intimates that your home should reflect your collective personality and have a welcoming feeling. The authentic elements in your home should create a feeling of welcoming guests as opposed to looking like a staged set. Visitors should look for design elements, layout and décor that embraces the personality that will allow you and your guests to feel welcome and homely. However, there is always a need for that quirky wallpaper, a funky chandelier and some pops of unusual colours in fabrics or ornaments.

Lené Smit: It is important that every home should speak about the people living inside it. What is “REAL” to them – thus not just what is trendy at the moment. The décor must be an extension of the personalities of the inhabitants.

Therina Pienaar:

Why did you decide to participate in the Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo this year?

Therina Pienaar: I’ve been a judge for 8 years, and I love the team who run the Expo and my fellow judges who I have a long professional relationship with. We have a common understanding of what makes an exhibition good. Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo is a great expo for a small expo, with products of exceptional quality.

Kevin Reed: Algoa FM is proudly the official media sponsor of the Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo.

Lené Smit: As a judge I love to interact with the exhibitors at the stands. It gives me the opportunity to ask them about the design process of their stand, as well as the inspiration and design behind their product.

What do you look for in a stand? Any specific criteria?

Therina Pienaar: The immediate impact. How they make use of the stand, how they display their products and also how they interact with the visitors. They need to have a clear understanding of what they’re promoting. I also consider the slower, lingering impact caused by the finer details of the stand design.

Kevin Reed: Most importantly, who are you, what do you do/offer, how do I make contact with you. The stand must be as interactive as possible with informed staffing and the products/services clearly displayed.

Lené Smit: I’m always looking for that wow factor in a stand. Something that is unique and grabs my attention. Especially where initiative has been taken to create something special that does not necessary cost a fortune. A passionate exhibitor makes a huge difference as well, especially if he/she knows the product they are selling well. Some form of interactive quality to get the visitors involved in the stand or the product is just the cherry on the top of an unique design experience.

port elizabeth homemakers expo judge
Kevin Reed

Are you introduced to new products at the Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo?

Therina Pienaar: Yes. It’s interesting to see how new trends such as sustainability and green products (not fashion trends but broader cultural trends) are increasingly introduced to the public.

Kevin Reed: Always something new to be found or something done better than before.

Lené Smit: I’ve been involved with the HOMEMAKERS Expo for the past 6 years, as my third year Interior Design students have been responsible for the design of the entrance area of the expo since 2013. Every year, however, the Expo manages to dish up some new and unique products. It is truly like Christmas in August, and I am personally looking forward to see what surprises the Expo will have in store this year.

Do you have a favourite item or product that you have purchased or ordered from suppliers at the Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo?

Therina Pienaar: I make a point not to purchase on judging day but I always return with my husband the following day to look again. The show has introduced me to quite a number of service providers. I found a contractor to do my roofing at the Expo. The standards are always very high. I also bought some lovely porcelain objects and photographs at the show.

Kevin Reed: Painted wallpaper.

Lené Smit: Yes. Two products spring to mind. Last year I bought an unique set of wooden spoons, decorated with pithy expressions on their colourful handles. The most unique item I bought was a set of beautiful protea fairy lights manufactured from plastic by a young lady designer. I just love it!

In your view, what is the biggest décor trend this year? (Going into Spring & Summer)

Therina Pienaar: Bringing the outside in. We’re seeing lots of plants being brought into the home, and architecture is changing to accommodate this new trend. Gardens are also becoming a lot more water-wise. As for colour, we’re seeing blues, turquoise, greys and greens. Also pale yellow to deeper yellowy mustard is having a moment. Pinks, especially millennial pink. In the furniture department, the trend is moving towards handmade decor and more artisanal pieces.

Kevin Reed: Décor should always be a reflection of your personality with an influence of trends that do not require continuous costly updating. I believe an emphasis on efficient and renewable energy, water saving initiatives and smart technology will be at the cutting edge this year, but never forget that “something styling” décor item that becomes a personal feature in your home.

Lené Smit: I’m personally not a fan of seasonal trend following because it limits the uniqueness of each individual style which will make a house your REAL Home. But you can use the trends to add a contemporary touch to your personal style. The colour grey is still, and probably will be for a while, a popular colour to use in different shades as a backdrop colour. But it should be contrasted with bright, bold colours as accent points. At the moment yellow is a popular colour to combine it with. A very popular trend is the use of patterns and textures in fabrics and wallpapers which are inspired by something that is unique to South Africa.

Visit the Port Elizabeth HOMEMAKERS Expo to see all the winning stands and other exciting highlights at the show. Discover more here: www.homemakersonline.co.za/expo/port-elizabeth