Women in Design: Meet Ramielle De Jager From Wolkberg
Creative entrepreneur and co-founder of Wolkberg Casting Studios, Ramielle De Jager, shares all this women’s month… From her innate passion for design to the latest Wolkberg collections and new products on the market.
Tell us your background?
I am a qualified Interior decorator, with over 12 years experience in product and innovation management and leading new product development for prestigious brands. I am a creative soul always and love working within the design industry.
What is Wolkberg and how did you start this business?
Wolkberg was started by three fiery individuals with a dream to do big things come what may. It started with the hope to innovate in material science for the countertop industry by producing a sustainable locally manufactured concrete alternative to other products in that sphere. This alternative would be an inspiration piece and innovation. We never planned to compete with the industry leaders here, however, we wanted to add something special to the mix that will compliment the existing product offerings. We have done this successfully with Limesite Dimensions surfaces as designers and architects use it in that way and it is being more and more embraced as we proceed.
What inspires you personally?
I get my inspiration from many places, most of the time not related to the actual work of Wolkberg. I am inspired by people who sacrifice their lives for the greater good of others like the well known philanthropists Warren Buffet , Oprah, JK Rowling, Mellinda and Bill Gates and many others.
My vision is to be in a position to give back and make a difference in a big way. Wolkberg is the starting point from which I hope to make huge strides in creating opportunities for others. Opportunity through upliftment projects and education. For now I am so thankful to be able to have created jobs for around 30 individuals directly and indirectly. We support many other entrepreneurs by using their services.
Wolkberg believes in empowering the design industry with expertise in Industrial Design, Interior Design and Product Development and Management. Can you tell us more?
Oh man, it gives me goosebumps to this day to think of how blessed we are to be in a position to empower the design industry with these expertise. It was always a vision to collaborate with other designers and offer our skills to ensure a South Africa where designers of all areas can confidently design and develop products that we can be proud of as a country. Products that are aesthetic, considered, sustainable, locally produced and long lasting.
We promote longevity in product design, it needs to stand the test of time because we need to abolish throw away culture and embrace sustainability. We encourage Interior Designers, Architects and Developers wherever possible to allow us the opportunity to design and develop concepts locally. We are grateful for the likes of designers that really take us up on this service like Nando’s entire design portal, Veld Architects, Tristan Du Plessis, Reddeco, Boogertman Interiors Turnkey, to name a few.
These designers allow us to create new products for them and their clients that become available to the wider market.
What’s the meaning and purpose behind Wolkberg?
Wolkberg is all about good design, sustainability, collaboration and leading with empathy.
We don’t just want to be a design and manufacturing business, we aim to truly make a difference in the South African design industry by pushing boundaries and creating opportunities for more people through employment creation and supporting other entrepreneurs.
How would you describe your creative team?
The team is diverse and abundantly blessed with design savvy. We consist of Industrial Designers, Industrial Engineers, Marketing Specialists, Specification specialists, and artists. We are like minded individuals with a great balance between design centric and customer centric people. We take into account the user experience as a number one priority in every touch point.
Is every piece of your collection that you sell handmade locally?
Every single piece is handmade locally at our production facility in Ruimsig JHB. Even our Limesite surfaces is a highly artisanal installation in other words it is installed by a team of highly skilled artisans. What is more exciting is that our Evolve range is not only hand made locally but also 80% recycled and 100% local raw materials.
Any exciting projects or collaborations you are involved in ?
We have an exciting new product that will be launched in September this year. A Wolkberg spin on the traditional Breeze Block. We are super excited about this product as it will truly allow us the opportunity to ensure continuous collaboration with other craftsmen.
You have a vast portfolio. What are you most proud of?
I am personally most proud of our Adorn Range. It is so special because it encourages us to appreciate the natural aging of brass, copper and stainless steel.
Do you have any new exciting pieces that you have recently launched or anything in the pipeline?
We have recently launched 2 new products: our Diwa tile which is a fluted bar front tile and the Pwani tile which is a coastal inspired scallop and arabesque shape.
Expansion of Adorn; we will be launching a special range of external facade cladding that forms part of our Adorn range in 2022. This is set to be a spectacle for sure.
The perfect place in your home to indulge?
My kitchen is my happy place. Here I get to cook, bake and practice my photography and videography skills. Not to mention my Limesite counters with brass inserts is just such a luxury.
I know very few of us are travelling right now but if you could, where would you go?
If I could travel, next on my list is UAE as I see the New External Adorn Cladding fitting in perfectly into the Abu Dabi and Dubai market. On a personal level, I have to take my daughter to Paris.
What are your current favourite restaurants/shops?
My favourite is The Fireroom in Monte Casino and Proud Mary in Rosebank.
What’s your personal Motto?
There are a few that I live by: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
When you speak you’re simply repeating what you know but if you listen you may learn something new.
Ask yourself if what you are about to say is true, necessary and kind before you speak – Rumi
A place you visited to unwind in Africa?
Well camping in the Wolkberg Mountains had to be the most magnificent experiences in my life. A true paradise where you are just surrounded by nature and not much else.
Awards you have won?
As a brand we have not actively participated in competitions however we have been blessed to have our work recognised by industry. We won the Best Stand in 2019 at 100% Design, Best Stand at the Home Makers Expo 2019, we won Best Bespoke Tiles and Surfaces South Africa 2020 and the BUILD Eco award for sustainable design 2020.
Discover more about this amazing brand online at Wolkberg.