It all started with a meeting of minds. More than a decade ago, two established professionals – Libby Doyle, designer, and Craig Fraser, photographer – joined forces and dreamed of an interiors book with a difference. Although Craig had until that point specialized in shooting high-end interiors, the goal they now share is to showcase the creativity and vibrant decorating spirit of people in a less affluent urban landscape – the townships or shack-lands, to be exact.
A radical idea, the book that would become Shack Chic did not receive support from local publishers. The duo realised that if this book would be born, they would have to do the work themselves, and started scouting for creative shack interiors on weekends. Eventually they rented a stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair, showcasing a mere handful of designed pages – and held their breath. The reaction was incredible: people waited in lines to get to their stand and they returned to South Africa with loads of international interest.
Convinced of the importance of their message – celebrating the resilience and creativity of those living in areas most often associated with crime and hardship – the partners put up bonds on their respective homes to fund the production and set to work in earnest. They were rewarded with a book deal; first from Thames & Hudson and then from Novib, a Dutch publisher that chooses only one book a year for their subscriptions. Shack Chic was published in 2002, to enormously positive reviews. To date, approximately 37 000 copies have been sold, with letters pouring in from all over the world, delivering accounts of how this local and international bestseller has changed people’s lives and perceptions.
After this auspicious debut, the duo discovered that they had unwittingly laid the foundations for a publishing company. Still occupied with their day jobs, the pair started publishing two to three lifestyle books a year, with the motto “as long as we’re having fun”. Eventually the success of their publishing business won out, and they decided to shift their full focus to Quivertree.
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