Compelling Design Platforms

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Located in the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage site, an hour outside Johannesburg is the Malapa Fossil Cave Cover and Visitors’ Platform, designed by Krynauw Nel Associates Architects from Johannesburg for the University of the Witwatersrand.|
The site of Prof Lee Berger’s treasure trove find, this is one of eight 2015/2016 winners of the South African Institute of Architecture Awards for Excellence, announced this past weekend.

A new platform in Johannesburg’s Keyes Art Mile precinct joins two of Africa’s most influential galleries – Whatiftheworld and Southern Guild. In the new space designed by StudioMAS, the two retain their own names, but together venture into interdisciplinary experimentation.

”We each have unique viewpoints, a desire to change the status quo, and as our galleries and our artists have matured we have found we share an approach and audience. This opportunity to combine our voices, to explore the intersection of art and design, promises results greater than the sum of our parts,’ says Southern Guild’s co-owner Trevyn McGowan.

The two galleries are renowned for shaping the continent’s contemporary art and design scene and bringing its spectrum of talents to the international arena. The list of names that they are representing will be familiar to globetrotters visiting the world’s art fairs, and hail from as far afield as Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as South Africa.

The inaugural show opened last week with artworks by, among others, Nigerian photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo, Zimbabwean sculptor Moffat Takadiwa and South African visual artist Athi-Patra Ruga. In addition were furniture and objects by leading designers such as Cheick Diallo and Hamed Ouattara as well as editions market darlings Gregor Jenkin, Porky Hefer and Dokter and Misses.

The synergetic collection of work leads to a strong, united narrative. ‘We’re prepared to be non-conformist,’ says Justin Rhodes, founder of the contemporary art gallery Whatiftheworld. ‘What we’re representing is a continental perspective.’

Both galleries are headquartered in Cape Town’s hipster district of Woodstock. Rhodes works with curator Ashleigh McLean on a roster of showcases featuring emerging artists, while Southern Guild’s design gallerists Trevyn and Julian McGowan devote their energy to developing the region’s first collectible designs platform.

Now, Southern Guild has teamed up with Porky Hefer to represent South Africa at the inaugural London Design Biennale, where the artist’s fantasized handcrafted animal cocoon is on show.

One can also see Whatiftheworld at UNTITLED, ART in Miami this December – if your travels are taking you west rather than south.

Top picture acknowledgement: Cheri Morris IMAGES courtesy of SAIA

Below picture: #PorkyHefer’s solo show titled Otium & Acedia

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