||This Day, 24 May 2004 by David Shapshak
Well-travelled Capetonian Nadya Glawé’s perspex
wall lights in sensual 50's-inspired shapes and colours are
a hit with locals and European tourists alike, writes David
A recent Mercedes Benz
magazine advert used a
close-up of a mosaic light
across two pages, with a
miniature small car and the
famous logo in the corner.
That was the entire visual impetus of
the ad, meant to convey all the notions
of class and glamour that the high-end
cars are renowned for.
It’s a diversion from their usual advert
styling. But what is more interesting is
that the sophisticated backdrop for the
German car is not an imported European
sensibility, but the work of Cape Town
artist Nadya Glawé.
Her artful lights have become one
of South Africa’s hottest new décor
must-haves, selling faster than she can
The intricate mosaic lights — handmade
with different coloured panels of
Perspex — were the beginning of a range
that now includes sensual 50s-inspired
shapes and colours.
These organic shapes have a timeless
appeal and, at first glance, seem like
originals from the mid-century era that
Glawé started making the lights as
an offshoot of her art. She says she had
been making artworks for years using
photography and “very clean materials
like metal and Perspex”.
One memorable piece used 100 small
Perspex boxes of individual images of
flames to create a large likeness of a fire
across a whole wall.
Glawé made similar pieces depicting
clouds by photographing the sky on
consecutive days. “All smaller pieces
are part of bigger whole, even though
they are individual and separate entities.
A bit like us,” she says. “A bit like
The wall lights, which she now sells
under the brand Halo, began “because
I was doing a lot of artwork with photography
and Perspex, and a friend asked
me to make some lights for a club he was
opening. It opened up that possibility.”
What began as a few lights for a few
friends, then for a few specialist design
stores, including design wunderkind
Tonic and the funky Five-0 Lounge, has
mushroomed into a small business.
The lights now sell in several stores in
Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Some of Glawé's larger lights are part of
an interior display in the Woolworths
store in Cavendish Square, Cape Town.
“In this country people are more willing
to spend money on something functional
rather than something artistic,” she says.
“I like to make beautiful things that are
different and unique. It’s a functional art
Brett Murray, a previous Standard
Bank Young Artist award winner, might
be more renowned for his pop art wall
lights, but Glawé’s have a more understated
Because she comes from a design
background, the lines are cleaner and
more design orientated.
“The store owners tell me that a lot of
the lights really appeal to Europeans. A
lot of Europeans buy my stuff . Coming
to Africa they don’t expect to find
something so Eurocentric. It’s their
Living in Amsterdam, London, Germany
and San Francisco has rubbed off
on Glawé, who dresses with the same
kind of verve that you fi nd in her lights.
Tourists and locals are almost as impressed
by the lights as by how relatively
inexpensive they are.
Halo lights can be bought at The Space
in Johannesburg and Durban, Bread and
Butter in Cape Town, Bright House in
Cape Town, and East of Eden in Cape
Town and Johannesburg.