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Carrol Boyes – Designer Talent

Carrol Boyes, a designer whose talents for art and sculpture became clear from a young age, is today widely regarded as an icon of South African design. Thirty years on, and two years after her passing, Carrol is still praised for her entrepreneurialism, her influence, and her eye for detail which continues to be translated into original yet timeless creations.

 The bold and striking iconic pieces that the brand is now famous for have penetrated different markets across the board. Exquisite bath and body ranges, textile collections and prestigious home décor and furniture are sought after not only locally but globally too.

We take a closer look at Carrol Boyes, through conversations with her Marketing and Design teams, and the legacy she has created through inspirational design.

‘I am a firm believer that you cannot achieve any level of success without love for what you do.’

Carrol’s dream was always to be an artist and to earn enough money to survive from her art. She realised that she would have to try to make it at some point, or end up spending the rest of her life wondering whether she would have.

Carrol was initially an English teacher, till the age of 35 when she decided to live her dream of being an artist. She began making crafts from her home in a seaside suburb of Cape Town in 1989. Her aim was to combine sculpture with functionality and resulted in a range of beautiful homeware and table-top accessories.

When did Carrol’s love affair with design begin? 

 Carrol knew from the age of about nine that she wanted to be an artist. She remembered being fascinated by the fact that artists could paint realistic portraits that made people’s faces come to life. As a child, she found it captivating that someone could draw something that was a representation of an object and others could recognise it. From that early age, that is all she ever wanted to do. It never occurred to her that she could be anything other than an artist. Throughout her school years she used to draw and paint and cover her walls with pictures instead of doing her homework. It was both an intrinsic need and an absolute passion for Carrol.

The last year has forced many companies to make radical changes in the way they do business. What changes have CB made to be able to survive and thrive? 

Despite the challenging COVID retail landscape, Carrol Boyes has had the honour and pleasure of opening three new stores in the past seven months, bringing our retail footprint to 24 across the country. Alongside this, the company has experienced exceptional digital growth – allowing the brand to engage with customers in their homes.

Whilst the impacts on the organization have been felt – on our staff and our supply chain – the expansion of the business into new product ranges, the support of an expanded leadership team and the investment into our digital transformation means the brand is going from strength to strength.

Our marketing and sales strategy continues to keep our customers at the heart of what we do, to remain personalised in our approach and keep quality, craftmanship and elegant design at the forefront of our approach.

What is one iconic statement piece that has stood the test of time and is still available today?

 Carrol had many favourite pieces as they all told various stories but the iconic Water Jug Man was one of her fondest creations.

What does the design team consider when working on new Carrol Boyes pieces? 

Will it bring a sense of pride and beauty into our customers’ homes?

Does it meet our standard of exceptional design and quality?

How does it speak to Carrol’s legacy of designs?

Does the design work both aesthetically and practically?

What will our customers ‘say’? We are all about creating conversation starters!

Did Carrol inspire the team with any mottos that the team upholds to this day? 

Carrol left us with this incredible quote which we hold very dear to our hearts.

‘’Please remember that we do things differently here. Never be ordinary – be extraordinary and throw in a bit of naughtiness every now and then and keep laughing. Never lose your sense of humour. I send you lots and lots of love.” Carrol

What was Carrol’s greatest achievement?

Carrol started the business in the basement of her home in 1989 and it grew to encompass 24 stores and an online store. Carrol had said ‘’never in a million years did I dream it would be so big’’. Carrol really just wanted to be creative while earning enough money to pay her bills.

Carrol’s inimitable artistic legacy lives on with pride, as the designers she has inspired look ahead to the next 30 years of bringing her vision to life, making the ordinary extraordinary.

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