South Africans in Milan

After debuting at the Design Indaba Expo, four South African designers exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair under the Misael label.

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Exclusive design label Misael again presented a selection of top South African design at the Milan Furniture Fair. South Africans Lyall Sprong, Walter Oltmann, Bronze Age and Leonard Shapiro completed the international contingent of designers on the Misael stand.

The Misael project involves artists and designers who, relieved of complying with dictates, guidelines, trends or specific topics, are free to express themselves by creating products unique to their genre. This freedom saw the designers push beyond their commercial constraints: Oltmann went from sculpture to chandelier made entirely of intertwined aluminium wire; Shapiro went from craft development to casting grass mats in aluminium; Bronze Age pushed beyond their trademark bowls to design a striking cabinet; and Sprong went deeper than the surface in his exploration of perception.

Sprong’s second Milan Furniture fair on Misael’s stand, the young Capetonian has become renowned for approaching everyday objects in a surprising way. Raising the chair to a mysterious luxury object, this year Sprong designed three chairs and concealed a diamond, only visible through X-ray, in one of them. The other two chairs are clad with precious writings about the designer’s life.

“The pieces exhibited here are an extension of my investigation into perception and reflect the suggestion that perception is more powerful than design,” he commented.

A second piece by Sprong will also be shown on Elle Decoration Italia’s curated exhibition of best emerging designers from around the world. Called Hotspot, the piece is a floating spherical stool made from a pilates ball and waste fabric. The chair is embellished by workers at Mielie, a Cape Town job-creation company that makes clothing and home accessories from T-shirt factories’ cotton off cuts.

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