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Pushing African design boundaries

Arts and Culture

Pushing African design boundaries

His jaw-dropping hanging chair “Fiona Blackfish”, which went with a price tag of $33,000, was a star attraction at the 2015 Miami Design Fair. This month through to February will see South African designer Porky Hefer bring his magic to a wider audience with his first solo exhibition, which is being hosted by Southern Guild Gallery, in Cape Town. It is a highly recommended visit for all art and design lovers. 

Porky Hefer’s larger-than-life environmentally conscious design work is legendary. Having recently returned from the Grains of Paradise exhibition at R & Company in New York, the Making Africa exhibition at Vitra Design Museum in Germany, and with record sales at Design Miami/Basel in June, Porky has been garnering extensive global recognition.

“Not many people are doing environmentally inspired pieces of this nature, especially at this scale,” explains Southern Guild Gallery co-founder Julian McGowan. “Porky’s work pushes boundaries and perceptions of what art and design are, and ultimately what furniture is and can be.”

“My pieces get people to think about nature, and its fragility, and make them consider how to protect it,” says Porky, who is renowned for his signature large-size nests. But this time he has taken his skill to an even higher level.

Sponsored by Woodhead’s leather merchants in Cape Town, the monumental show, dubbed Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I, which will run until the end of February, highlights a new selection of the designer’s fantastical cane and leather-enrobed underwater animal-inspired hanging nest seats, transforming the double-volume space into a magnificent faux waterscape.

From a crocodile donning avocado leather, to a puffer fish woven with booboo cane, these creatures will welcome gallery visitors on an intriguing journey of discovery.

The pieces featured 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, adding: “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.”

“This solo show is long overdue,” adds McGowan, elaborating on how it will offer South Africans the rare opportunity to see Porky’s work in the way that international audiences have been viewing it for the past five years. Porky Hefer is the 2013 Southern Guild Design Foundation Icon Award winner. NA

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