Paying homage to Pretoria’s world-renowned jacaranda trees, a huge wall of individually cut and intricately folded jacaranda flowers, detailed jacaranda leaves and hand-sculpted proteas has gone up in front of a redevelopment section of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre.
“Washed in purple light, the installation is suspended and runs partially down a three-metre-high wall, allowing the public to walk right up to and beneath it, so that it becomes a magical interactive experience,” says Andrea De Wit, Marketing Manager for the centre.
The origami installation is a temporary structure designed to hoard some of the second-phase redevelopment work underway at the centre. Behind the wall, demolition of a portion of the existing Checkers Hyper mall is taking place, with the additional new retail centre slated to go up in its place by November 2016.
Menlyn Park Shopping Centre contracted local artist Elizabeth Lotz to create a visual fantasy that would obscure the construction work. The design and assembly process of the massive origami installation – based on the Japanese art of paper-folding – is ongoing and will continuously grow, with new features being added on a regular basis.
“Each flower and leaf pattern was individually machine-cut, page by page, then the flowers were each folded by hand,” De Wit explains. “The hand-crafted process makes the installation one of a kind, and adds to its appeal.”
Never before seen on such a scale nor in such a context in South Africa, the origami project follows similar installations in other fashion capitals around the world, including Berlin, London and Bangkok. Pretoria’s jacaranda wall is made out of paper that’s chlorine and acid free, and approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
“The artistic challenge of the project was to create a visual that would evoke an emotion,” says De Wit. “We’ve tried to capture the essence of what you feel when driving down a jacaranda-lined street in full bloom – it leaves you breathless.”
Menlyn Park chose origami – believed to be a first for retail in South Africa – over other conventional hoarding methods because of the synergies that exist between the pattern-making process of origami, and the texture, colour and variety of retail fashion in South Africa.
Undergoing a major R2-billion redevelopment led by retailer demand, and including a massive expansion and refurbishment, the new 500+ store Menlyn Park Shopping Centre is set to become the largest mall on the continent. Besides boosting the mall’s choice and variety, the two phase project will add 50 000m2 and 200 more stores to the centre and is due for completion in late 2016.