Southern Guild at Design Miami/Basel 2015

The South African gallery Southern Guild has put together a collection that bristles with raw texture.

A monochromatic rawness runs like a textured thread throughout Southern Guild’s latest collection of limited-edition design – on its way to Design Miami/Basel for the third consecutive year. Probably one of the most cohesive collections that Trevyn and Julian McGowan have put together for Southern Guild to date, it looks to assert its African identity among the predominantly European and American galleries at the Swiss extravaganza of high-end, collectible design.


There are some familiar favourites – David Krynauw’s Haywire chandelier (in brass this time), Cheick Diallo’s Dibi chair (one of the few pops of bright colour) and Andile Dyalvane’s Docks table – but it’s the first time the gallery is representing the broader African continent in Basel. There are cow-horn chairs (above) by Babacar Niang, the Senegal designer who recently passed away, and beaten metal cabinets (below) by Hamed Ouattara from Burkina Faso, as well as other pieces by Mali’s Diallo.
Botswanan furniture design company Mabeo’s collaboration with Cape Town’s Porky Hefer on a multi-fictional piece, which premiered at GUILD International Design Fair in Cape Town earlier this year, is also part of the lineup. Seemo (above) marries Hefer's woven nest chair with Peter Mabeo's finely constructed wooden furniture.
“The work we’re bringing to Design Miami/Basel offers a powerful, primal narrative,” says Trevyn. “It’s a raw exploration of what sets us apart as a country, through our unique cultures with distinct historical references.”
Beth Diane Armstrong's stainless steel Reach table (above) is typical of her interest in the tension between organic and architectural forms that seem to mutate before our eyes.
Atang Tshikare collaborated with ceramicists from Art in the Forest on a series of 10 objects made from stoneware clay (above). With surfaces that have been scratched into with Tshikare’s designs, their names are Tswana for words such as “child”, “moon” and “shaman”.
Porky Hefer's latest iteration of his human-sized nests is a tongue-in-cheek conversation piece in leather and sheepskin. Called "Catherine Esca" (above), this nest looks to the seas for inspiration: the deep-sea Angler Fish.
KwaZulu-Natal-based Astrid Dahl's white earthenware vessels (above) take their botanical forms to new-found complexity with gravity-defying delicacy.
Ian Garrett’s burnished terracotta pots (above) are built up with coils of clay that are smoothed together and then scraped thin as they dry. He uses the serrated edge of a mussel shell to draw fine concentric lines into the clay, creating subtly textured surfaces punctuated by geometric shapes.
Dokter and Misses' Kassena Server (above) is part of the duo's Kassena Town range inspired by the West African tribe they are named after. It is Walnut timber on casters, hand painted in patterns reminiscent of those the Kassena people use to adorn their houses. The LALA Surma drinks cabinet (below) is inspired by a tribe further east: the Surma people, one of the 15 Ethiopian tribes indigenous to the Omo Valley. The cabinet’s steel surface has been painted with patterns akin to the bodily adornments of the Surma. The colour palette is that of natural pigments: red ochre, yellow sulfur, white kaolin and grey ash.
Wood carver Friday Jibu pairs up with Bronze Age Foundry again with the “Right on the Head” sculpture (above).
Trevyn McGowan is confident that Southern Guild’s offering at Design Miami/Basel, which opens 16 June, will be unlike anything else at Design Miami/Basel. “It blurs the line between sophisticated elegance and primal rawness,” says Julian.

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