Delicious monsters by Porky Hefer

Cape Town-based designer Porky Hefer has created bizarre human-scale nests, inspired by fantastical underwater creatures.

Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I, is the first solo exhibition by Cape Town designer Porky Hefer. Hefer has created an underwater fantasy-scape, where leather and cane-enrobed pieces become the next explorations of the human-scale nests that made Porky Hefer's name on the design circuit. Hefer spoke at Design Indaba Conference in 2012. 

"My pieces get people to think about nature, and its fragility, and make them consider how to protect it," says Porky of the nest environments with which he has become synonymous. "They're also about protecting local crafts so that these traditions don't die out."

Fantastical underwater animals inspire the nests, named Crocodylus Eugenie, M.heloise, Pelicanus Iris, behd and Joyce. The six character seats include an avocado-coloured crocodile, a Kooboo Cane woven puffer fish and an inguni cow hide killer whale.

The six pieces featured in Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I, have been created using unique local artisanal skills that include weaving, stitching and splicing. "No one is playing with these skills in this way," explains Hefer. "People are latching on to technology, but this evolves so quickly that it's hard to benefit from it, because by the time you master a technological aspect it's already dead." 

He highlights the importance of reviving and utilising traditional crafts instead, and names Cape Town cane craftsman Ismael Bey, with whom he has been working closely on his weaving projects, as a modern-day example. "Ismael has trained weavers at the Cape Town Society for the Blind, where I've had a lot of my designs produced. In this way, I use his traditional knowledge and weaving skills and subvert these into non-traditional forms, making them more relevant. We have such skilled human beings in this country, using techniques not found anywhere else in the world."

From the ropes they hang on to the stiching process used in the leatherwork, every detail has been paid due attention. Hefer explains that there is beauty in all these processes. 

Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I runs from 20 November to 5 February, at the Southern Guild Gallery, Woodstock, Cape Town. Photos by Adriaan Louw.

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