Design Miami/ Basel 2018 Report Back

14 June, 2018 | Southern Guild’s Trevyn McGowan gives Private Edition an in-the-moment best-of list from Design Miami/ Basel 2018

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Porky Hefer, Endangered, 2018. Southern Guild. Photo Credit: James Harris.

No stranger to the international design fair circuit, Southern Guild returned to Design Miami/ Basel last week to present Porky Hefer’s latest collection of playful seating sculptures, titled Endangered, together with SFA Advisory. As one of the fair’s special “satellite” features, the exhibition depicted five endangered animals – an orangutan, polar bear, blue whale, Great White shark and pygmy sloth – brought to life by local craft groups Mielie and Heartworks and Ronel Jordaan’s studio. Their tactile, woolly surfaces and interactive design wooed collectors – all for a good cause, with 25% of the sales benefiting the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s wildlife conservation programmes.

Flying the flag for local design ingenuity was Southern Guild co-founder and CEO of the Guild Group, Trevyn McGowan. A seasoned exhibitor and visitor, she has developed a discerning eye for good investment pieces in this burgeoning sector of the collectables market and knows the gallerists intimately. “The galleries are people that we respect, learn from and collaborate with,” she notes. “They all share our fundamental mandate and methodology – handmade craftsmanship, ground-breaking form and identity, strong narrative and working with designer-makers.”

These were the most notable exhibits she spotted at Design Miami/ Basel this year:

Wendell Castle, Spellbound, 2016, stained ash. Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

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Wendell Castle, Spellbound, 2016, stained ash.

This unique chair, composed of perfectly balanced elements in stained ash, stands at almost 2 metres tall. The work has a poignant presence deepened by the fact that Wendell Castle passed away earlier this year. Considered the father of the American Crafts movement, his work seamlessly fuses sculpture and furniture, always crafted with exceptionally fluid lines and a confident eye for unusual shapes. His influence is still felt at fairs like this – and Carpenters Workshop sets an inspiring example in cultivating his legacy. The gallery is actively involved in researching and producing limited-edition functional sculpture by its artists and designers, who include Maarten Baas, Studio Job and the Campana Brothers.

Kwangho Lee, The Shape of a River, 2018, copper, enamelled copper tiles and cherry wood. Salon 94.

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Kwangho Lee, The Shape of a River, 2018, copper, enamelled copper tiles and cherry wood.

The dynamic tension of Kwangho Lee’s collection is deeply appealing: balancing exuberant colour, exposed seams and rough surfaces on the one hand, with restrained modernist shapes and graphic edges on the other. But I especially love the way he has drawn on his own Korean heritage to create something very contemporary. The furniture mixes raw copper with inlaid enamelled copper tiles framed by cherry wood. Lee used a traditional Korean kiln called a “chilbo” to fire copper tiles that have been applied with coloured glass, interrupting the process to achieve the brilliant hues. He is a relevant original voice in the global design landscape – I’m really interested to see what he comes up with in the future.

Nendo, Watercolour collection, hand-painted steel, 2018. Friedman Benda

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Nendo, Watercolour Collection, 2018, hand-painted steel.

There was a lot of buzz about this booth at the fair – and rightly so, it was immaculately executed! The New York gallery showcase an 18-piece furniture collection inspired by the effects of watercolour paint on a paper surface. Although the pieces are industrially produced in metal, each one has been meticulously painted by hand to create the delicate colour bleeds. Nendo never fail to come up with something innovative at almost every major design event on the global calendar.

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Nendo, Watercolour Collection, 2018, hand-painted steel.

Oki Sato,who runs Nendo, is one of the most recognised young designers working internationally. He is a master of crisp, conceptual design that is clever but universal.

Dana Barnes, RETOLD: Mahal Blue Field carpet, 2017. R and Company

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Dana Barnes, RETOLD, 2017.

This is an original hand-knotted wool Mahal Persian carpet dating back to 1900 that the artist has infused with multicoloured merino wool and silk fibres. The felted areas, which so richly resemble paint smeared on a canvas with a palette knife, were created using a special technique to bond the layers of wool fibers into the rugs without damaging them. I love the contrast between the intricate framework of the traditional carpet and the wild, gestural marks that characterise this artist’s work. She is known for her tactile installations using that use woollen and exotic fibres in a highly unconventional way.

Her RETOLD rugs take that one step further. Southern Guild will be exhibiting a similar rug with others from this series, which R and Company collaborated on with Milan-based rug manufacturer Amini, when it opens Woven Forms (20 September – 22 November)

Claude Lalanne, Grande berce, 2003, gilt bronze. Galerie Mitterrand

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Claude Lalanne, Grande berce, 2003, gilt bronze.

Galerie Mitterrand’s booth was dedicated to the historic French husband-and-wife designers François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, whose nature-inspired decorative art is highly sought after. Claude – now in her 90s – is better known for her botanical themes. The gingko leaf motif in this exquisite banquette was a favourite of hers throughout her career. There is such a romance about it – the dancing movement of the leaves and the glow of gilt bronze. Her work is unashamedly poetic and often quite humorous – always executed with exceptional technical skill.

Find more design new from the Southern Guild in our Art and Collectables section.