Sometimes obvious, at other times surprising or even seemingly random, the connections between brands, artists, artisans and otherwise creative individuals can produce the most sublime results, as revealed in some of the DECO team’s favourite, most innovative and inspiring design collaborations from across the globe
1. Creating With a Cause
AAKS may be best known for its raffia handbags made in Ghana, but the fashion label by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi has recently launched a long-term home decor project with UNHCR that sees refugee Tuareg artisans living in Burkina Faso producing exquisite handcrafted pendant lights using time-honoured Malian weaving techniques. The initiative, called Weaving For Change, aims to bridge the gap between design and craft by enhancing a skill that is traditionally used to create basket lids for food platters used in cultural celebrations. A combination of woven straw, dyed leather, colourful organic yarns and hammered bronze results in a unique collection that is not only beautiful, but also provides a poverty-stricken community with a chance for a new life.
2. The Art of Fashion
From Stephane Conradie’s chic monochrome offering that references her primary training as a printmaker to Marlene Steyn’s fantastical kaleidoscopic creation, The Artist in Collaboration is a limited-edition range of sand-washed silk twill scarves featuring original works by 10 South African artists. The collection is exclusively available at the Norval Foundation boutique in Cape Town.
3. On Board
Following its debut collaboration with Ardmore Design in 2016 on a pair of silk scarves adorned with the lifestyle brand’s quirky African prints, Hermès has reimagined one of the motifs as custom skate- and surfboard designs. Ardmore’ Designs Savana Dance is infused with Zulu iconography and depicts a monkey (a symbol of wit and intelligence) being chased by a leopard (a symbol of royalty) through a swirling sea of giant King Proteas. This is the first time that Hermès has worked with a South African studio, which has led to an increased recognition of Ardmore Design on an international scale.
4. Catwalk to Kitchen
The Gucci Décor collection of crockery and vases blooming with decorative florals, twisting snakes and other ubiquitous motifs was made possible thanks to the expertise and specialist skills of Richard Ginori, the renowned Florence-based porcelain factory founded in 1735. At the heart of this collection is a commitment to craft and the artisanal skill associated with Italian makers, as well as a desire to celebrate the rich culture of Italian art.
5. Colour Wash
London-based artist Yinka Ilori is no stranger to channelling the traditions of his Nigerian heritage in his contemporary design pieces and furniture. For his collaboration with emerging architecture practice Pricegore for the second Dulwich Pavilion, an interactive temporary outdoor structure to be unveiled at next year’s London Festival of Architecture, Ilori looked to the vibrant multiculturalism of Peckham, known as London’s ‘Little Lagos’, for inspiration. Aptly titled the Colour Palace, the lightweight structure will comprise brightly hued timber louvres which create shifting layers of pattern when viewed from different perspectives around the pavilion, a flexible public space that can be used for performances and other activities.
6. African Aesthetic
Drawing on its extensive network of creatives from across the continent, Design Indaba has teamed up with decor powerhouse IKEA on an exciting new collaboration that will see the brand’s first exclusive African homeware collection go on the market next year. Key members of the IKEA team are working alongside 12 designers on the project, including Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa by Laduma, product designer Bibi Seck, architect Christian Benimana, fashion designer Selly Raby Kane and textile designer Sindiso Khumalo.
7. Connecting for Good
When Something Good Studio founder Zydia Botes approached five of her favourite female artists and illustrators to produce a range of playful, stylish jacquard throws and blankets, the criteria she provided was simply this: ‘happy vibes and girl power’. ‘They all said yes, and that’s how it started,’ says Botes, who launched the company in April this year and has already been cast into the spotlight through her win for Best Surface Design at this year’s 100% Design South Africa. Artists Renée Rossouw (whose blanket is pictured here), Karabo Poppy Moletsane, Janet Lightbody, Tammy Joubert and Fran Labuschagne are among the first wave of collaborators, with the resulting limited-edition blankets proving versatile, functional works of art that celebrate local craftsmanship.
8. Tradition Meets New Wave
Eclectic design ingenuity intersects with generations-old skills and craftsmanship in a new collection of limited-edition rugsfor New York gallery R & Company. Look to Cheetah Hayworth, La Brea Brad Pitt, the Quasidodo and a motley crop of curious beasts manifested into handmade woollen carpets by design and fabrication studio Haas Brothers produced in partnership with Amini Carpets, a family business that fuses the contemporaneity of its Milan base with the traditions of its Afghanistan roots. Titled Woven Forms, the rug collection made its debut at last year’s Venice Biennale, and is on show at Cape Town’s Southern Guild for the remainder of the year.
9. Cultural Interpretation
Two creative studios are drawing on their Nigerian ancestry in a partnership that has culminated in an Afro-minimalist jewellery collection inspired by the African tradition of strength and evolution. With a name that means ‘symbol’ in Yoruba, ÁMI merges accessories brand Adèle Dejak’s luxurious aesthetic with design movement Afrominima’s Afrocentric minimalist approach in striking pieces that speak of the African Renaissance story and signify courage, strength, hope, pride and prosperity.
10. Limited Editions
Since it launched early this year, The Trenery Guild has looked to a who’s who of South African artists and artisans to collaborate on a series of activations, from exhibitions and talks to the creation of a small-batch gin by boutique distillery Pienaar & Sons to gift its customers. With a brief to ‘interpret and celebrate’ the apparel brand’s anchors of premium quality and craftsmanship, the participants have included the likes of textile artist Pierre Fouche, Yswara tea’s Swaady Martin and perfumer Marie Aoun of Saint D’Ici. Most recently, The Trenery Guild worked with Nkuli Mlangeni of The Ninevites to produce a bespoke handwoven rug in salmon, sage and slate hues inspired by its new-season range. This month, it’s the turn of ceramicist Lisa Firer, who took her cues for a ceramic dish from a black-and-white Trenery fabric print.
Text: Leigh Robertson, Karen Tennent