Our first solo show with Southern Guild will launch a new series of collectible furniture inspired by the creative disorder and decay of urban ecosystems. Largely consisting of sculptural cabinets in timber, steel and glass, this new body of work experiments with jagged shapes, odd proportions and stacked forms overlaid with textural surface treatments.
“Smooth surfaces are interrupted by jagged lines and unconscious gestural marks,” say designers Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin. “Function is encapsulated and overgrown by clumps of irregular forms. Traditional furniture structural configurations are turned inside out and decorated with dysfunctional clutter. Negative spaces become a nest for 3D visual noise.
Inspired by Tramp Art and the notion of needing to be busy, Practically Everywhere aims to communicate the feeling of being in an environment rather than the actual environment itself. In keeping with Dokter and Misses’ strong graphic signature, the new collection overwhelms the observer while exploring themes of over-saturation, disruption and unconscious actions and reactions.
Ever responsive to their local surroundings and Joburg’s inner city, the designers conceived of this collection as an abstracted study of their immediate environment, which has adapted to and been overtaken by natural forces. The work’s radical aesthetic conveys this sense of entropy and evolution.
Hugo and Taplin founded Dokter and Misses, a multi-disciplinary product design company, in 2007. Their respective industrial and graphic design skills combine to create work described as “modernist, where strong construction lines and a bold use of colour create graphic shapes and spaces.” Their innovative designs – including both limited-edition and production furniture, lighting and interior objects – have captured the attention of interior design enthusiasts across the world and defined an original aesthetic that is distinctly modern and African.
Dokter and Misses’ editioned work has been shown at Design Days Dubai, Design Miami/ Basel, Design Miami/, The Salon Art and Design and Collective (both in New York), and as part of the Graphic Africa exhibition at Platform Gallery in London and Grains of Paradise at R & Company in New York. They have exhibited at major museums such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York and VITRA Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany and have been featured in Wallpaper*, Dwell and The New York Times. The couple won the Icon Award at the Southern Guild Design Foundation Awards 2015/2016, and participated in the ground-breaking programme Design Network Africa (2012-2014).
‘Tattooed Sleeve by LW and CM’ by Laurie Wiid van Heerden and Ceramic Matters
Graphica introduces some collectible design pieces not yet seen in South Africa, despite having been exhibited by Southern Guild at international fairs such as Design Miami in both Basel and Miami, and Design Days Dubai. ‘Graphica is a visual feast of dynamic silhouettes and exquisite surface detailing,’ explains Southern Guild founder Trevyn McGowan. A Wiid Design bench hand-drawn by Ceramic Matters to resemble a tattoo, the Kassena Isibheqe cabinet and writing desk by Dokter and Misses, referencing a modern-day script to unite African languages, and Madoda Fani ceramic vessels decorated with armour-like patterning are some of the pieces to look out for in this exhibition. ‘There’s a strong African aesthetic to these works,’ adds partner Julian McGowan, ‘and visitors can expect this to be complemented by a dramatic reworking of the gallery space.’
Artists include: Adriaan Izak Hugo + Zander Blom, Babacar Niang, Brett Murray, Bronze Age, Daniella Mooney, David Krynauw, Dokter and Misses, Driaan Claassen, Gavin Elder, Gregor Jenkin, Justine Mahoney, Koop, Laurie Wiid van Heerden with Ceramic Matters, Madoda Fani, Porky Hefer, Rodan Kane Hart, Pieter Henning and Xandre Kriel, amongst others.
Graphica is open to the public from 8 April to 1 July.
Left / "Isibheqe Writing Desk" by Dokter and Misses, “Fear” by Brett Murray and “Bedjenak Chaise” by Babacar Niang
Right / "LALA Surma V and VI" by Dokter and Misses, “Our Turn to Eat” by Brett Murray, David Krynauw’s “Haywire Black Ash” and Xandre Kriel’s “Vos Altar”
The fifth installment of the museum’s popular contemporary design exhibition series will be running from from Feb. 12 through Aug. 21, 2016 where you will be able to see Dokter and Misses, the Horseman, a limited edition piece in their ongoing Kassena series.
Even with its otherworldly silhouette and vibrating patterned façade, the Horseman is still principally functional. Garnering it’s name from the way in which the spire shape appears to be riding the floor piece, the Horseman is seen as a bench – albeit a sculptural idea of one – complete with a flap down desk and other compartments to house the things that are precious to you.
The patterned Isibheqe cabinets are the latest addition to the Kassena series – the first of which was produced in 2012. The shape of the Kassena cabinets is inspired by the hand-painted adobe structures built by the Kassena people, who live in the Tiébélé region on the border of Ghana and Burkina Faso. The geometric patterns wrapped around the cabinets actually represent two literary texts in the Sotho and Tsonga languages, written in the Pan-Southern African writing system called Isibheqe Sohlamvu, or Ditema tsa Dinoko.
This isibheqe script is developed through the symbolic design traditions of the Southern African region, such as Sotho litema murals or Zulu amabheqe beadwork. Primarily for use with Nguni, Sotho-Tswana, Tsonga and Venda languages, the isibheqe script combines letters representing the key phonetic features of those languages into geometric syllabograms. Each triangle or circle shape in the vertical lines of text on the cabinets represents one syllable of the text.
As a decolonial alternative literacy, the writing system is an Africanist technology designed to advance Southern African language literacies. The isibheqe cabinets engage the literary force of this indigenous writing system, and together with the Kassena-inspired shape, create a poignant piece of Pan-African visual art.
Visit isibheqe.org for a visual description and further information about the Isibheqe Sohlamvu script.