Cake Box Typewriters, Cardboard Shoes & Cape Dutch Design

A love for design and creation is inherent in all children. Any child that’s ever built a fort out of cushions or even trees has this passion. Any child that’s drawn on the walls of a home, a couch, or even his little brother.

My love for design and creation started around 8 or 9 years old.   My mother would collect old boxes and cartons, fabric, buttons or any other paraphernalia for which she no longer had a use and that would be my repurposing toy-box. On a weekly basis an uncle would stop by with a new batch of paper off-cuts for me to doodle my art on.  Life was good and I became skilled at recycling everyone else’s unwanted stuff.

I found that even a humble cake box held the world of opportunity.  My personal favourite had to be the convertible typewriter which turned into a computer simply by turning it upside down and flipping the lid up to present a screen.  Slits were even cut at each end of the screen so that picture slides could be inserted for a new image. Toothpaste caps and buttons were used to create dials and knobs.  It gave me hours of endless fun and needless to say my little heart broke when my cake box typewriter / computer met its demise and vanished into thin air.  I’m convinced my mother had something to do with its disappearance yet she denies it vehemently to this day.


Technology was not my only inspiration, I loved fashion too!  Enter…. the ever so stylish cardboard towelling shoe … or sandals actually.  And one had to accessorize of course, so belts and headbands were crafted to match.  All these creations required very little sewing, none in fact, and were glued or stapled together.  As it turns out, staples are not great for your head or delicate little fingers, so glue inevitably became my best friend. They may not have been Louis Vutton’s but they certainly were one of a kind.


As I grew up, my house playing days evolved and I went from finding the right goodies to decorate my dolls house and moved onto re-homing my mother’s beloved ornaments and furniture.  Enter my home decor phase!  Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, we moved into a Cape Dutch styled home.  I was 13 and the thought of moving into this new house was exhilarating. It was so grand, it simply had to be pulled directly out of a fairy-tale, with its big white gables and large cottage pane windows.  But the thing I loved the most about this house was its ceilings.  Gone were the boring white plasterboard and in its place were old-style, pressed ceilings adorning every room.  They were quite simply, beautiful.  Every night I would fall asleep making different patterns out of the design.  I eventually settled on the idea that they were – without a doubt – clowns and that made me very happy.  The house also had the original wooden floorboards underneath the carpeting, alas, I could not convince my parents to rip up the carpets and let the wood breath. My friends where convinced that the house was haunted as the floorboards would creak at night.  As it turned out it was just my mother’s Maltese poodle taking a midnight stroll through the house. I think…


I subsequently took art at high school and loved learning about various artists, photography and architecture. Of course, along the way making some hideous oil pastel and charcoal drawings too.  It was then that I realised there really is no limit to where “design” lives. It is in everything we touch and see and isn’t limited to merely tactile. It’s experiential too.

My cardboard shoes by no means had an impact on the world, but they did have a story to tell; that of a 9 year old girl who was finding her creative life, right at the beginning of her journey. Design most definitely does not fit into any box or is prescribed to furniture or art; and even nature has a design.  Design will take you as far as your imagination will go, cake box typewriters and all!

Charlotte Kearsey
About me

Charlotte, also known as Charlie, is a freelance Social Media Architect and Blogger. After nearly 20 years working in the IT and Marketing fields, she now spends her days as a Stay [WORK] at Home Mom and Director of Home Affairs. Fueled by coffee; and with a passion for anything creative and completely random, she hopes to make a difference in the world, albeit small. And she loves rocks and might be a tad ADHD.


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