Southern Guild goes future-primal
at this year’s Design Miami


Miami brings the colour and the crazy to its shores at the end of every November for Art Basel and Design Miami. This year, Southern Guild presents a future-primal take on South African design at this global platform for the fourth time. Based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Southern Guild has spearheaded the collectible design category in Africa since 2008, supporting artist-designers in creating groundbreaking and world class work and is the only gallery representing African design at this year’s Design Miami. The sensory environment created by Southern Guild’s installation offers innovative interpretations of classic forms while dictating a new pulse for limited edition African design. Atang Tshikare, Daniella Mooney and Dokter and Misses are among the 16 designers showcasing their work, each choosing pieces which are both refined and explorative in their own rights.

Rising star Atang Tshikare’s pieces Lebone Le Bone (they saw the light) and Maotwana Finyela premieres his exploration into bronze sculpture. The multifarious, multidisciplinary designer prefers not to be boxed. Born in Bloemfontein, he began his full-time career in art and design in 2010, launching his company Zabalazaa Designs through which he has collaborated with various local creatives. His insatiable work ethic and talent earned him the Southern Guild Design Foundation Future Found Award in 2014. Having concentrated for many years in surface design, his departure into sculpture has revealed an untamed series of work that are wild at heart, yet elegant and sophisticated. 

Working with celebrated sculptor, Otto du Plessis (whose Hok Chandelier is also showing with Southern Guild at Design Miami) of Bronze Age foundry, Tshikare was able to realise the bronze creatures rapidly from concept to solid form. To further enhance this sculptural work, Tshikare and his wife, Lexie, created a mythical story to shed light on the pieces and their imaginative realm. Tshikare describes his ideas as “a bunch of grasshoppers, seeking my attention that keep bouncing up. So when I decipher the patterns in the bedlam of this world I’ll lift it up for you to see, so just keep up.” Lebone Le Bone (they saw the light) is said to radiate a profound force within others, keeping them wandering in search of their light and sense of peace. Maotwana Finyela, the work that functions as a chair and light, is an exotic animal with many legs that click together making a melodic sound as they come into contact. These sounds are meant to be so soothing that they equate to the healing power of the stars. 

Self Portrait as Stone Vessel by Daniella Mooney is, in a sense, a departure from her usual sculptural work in that it is her first self-referential piece. The marble, soapstone and red jasper piece is inspired by ancient fertility vessels without linking to any culture in particular. The artist has an admittedly strange relationship with the work. “I created an aspect of myself which I wanted to realise and help me understand myself as a receptacle and vessel for life, as a feminine form,” Mooney says. “This is not a ritualistic object in that the power does not lie in its use, but as an aspect of myself I felt compelled to manifest in physical form, and that makes it a powerful object for me.”    

“I created an aspect of myself which I wanted to realise and help me understand myself as a receptacle and vessel for life, as a feminine form”

Mooney’s works typically evoke themes found in artifacts, temples and sacred spaces, which are both highly stylised and modernised in appearance with a twist of the artist's touch, or in this case, face. “Using stone in this piece is a connection to the Chthonic (or subterranean) realms of death and rebirth - I wanted to form a receptacle in my own likeness with these materials,” she explains, describing Self Portrait as Stone Vessel as “a continuation from previous bodies of work concerning my personal interest and research into the cycles of nature and how through the ages humanity has come to relate to these cycles through myth and belief.” While she works mainly with stone and wood, she has recently tried her hand at painting, exhibiting her two dimensional scenes at Chandler House in Cape Town. After graduating from Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2009, Mooney held two solo shows at WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery and has shown regularly with Southern Guild.

Award winning duo, Dokter and Misses, have seen their Kassena Horseman travel to Miami from the New York-based Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, Beauty. Kassena Horseman will feature on the Southern Guild stand alongside the increasingly popular drinks cabinet, LALA Surma V. Both pieces elicit the hand painted style typical of the duo’s collectible work, which has travelled extensively through the years with Southern Guild. Katy Taplin and Adriaan Hugo were recently awarded the prestigious Southern Guild Design Foundation Icon Award 2016, recognising their masterful work in the design industry. Both pieces hark back to Dokter and Misses’ inclination towards African architecture inspiration, this time looking to the Kassena peoples’ heavily patterned abodes in Burkina Faso. Even their method of work draws parallels with some building methods in West Africa, where Hugo builds the structures. Taplin hand paints each piece, which alludes to the importance of decorative paintwork seen in some cultures. 

Based in Johannesburg, Dokter and Misses was founded in 2007 and has grown into a highly successful multi-disciplinary product design company that produces work with clean lines and modern silhouettes. Taplin tells us, “The common thread between all of our LALA drinks cabinets is in the shape and the materials. Each cabinet is handmade from mild steel, with four doors and two bronze tinted glass shelves. The idea was to make a cabinet that was a solid form, with no protruding handles and hinges, which are concealed, forming an uninterrupted front surface.” Their work is a result of what the duo celebrates as “oddball beauty”, where the Horseman can be seen as the spire shape riding the floor piece, with little compartments in which to store your treasures.

Design Miami is from 30 November – 4 December 2016