From the Series
Johannesburg-based Dokter and Misses' Kassena Server has spawned a village: the server, made in 2012, has inspired the creation of a larger range of storage pieces, called Kassena Town. Named after the Kassena people of West Africa, the monolithic pieces echo the mud buildings built by its men and hand-painted in striking graphic patterns by its women. The new range of designer cabinets includes pieces titled Home, Watchtower, Horseman and Sleep.
"It is our dream village with all the complexities of a community," say Dokter and Misses’ Katy Taplin and Adriaan Hugo. "A town always needs a few homes, a place of worship, a liquor store and at least one guy with a fast car who thinks he’s king."
The pieces were made especially for the upcoming exhibition Grains of Paradise, which shows contemporary work by four African design studios, at New York design gallery R & Company in collaboration with Southern Guild from 24 March to 30 April.
Like the Kassena architecture it is modeled on, the four pieces are all solid volumes that resemble impenetrable fortresses, their smooth surfaces yielding little about what lies within. The Kassena people – also known as the Gurunsi, who live in the Tiebélé region on the border of Burkina Faso and Ghana – still hew to their traditions of building their houses to ward off enemies and keep out the heat. Their structures have no windows save for one or two small openings.
Exhibiting alongside Dokter and Misses’ Kassena Town in the Grains of Paradise show are Porky Hefer’s human-sized woven nests, ceramics by Kwazulu-Natal Midlands-based Ardmore and sculptural wooden seating by Senegalese designer Babacar Niang.