Ever wondered what Binky Newman, a household name in the designer African basketware sector, has uncovered on her travels across the continent? The owner of Design Afrika has teamed up with Plettenberg Bay’s The Old House Shop owner, and long-time retailer, Suzie Ovenstone to offer visitors a tightly curated exhibition and shopping experience which reveals where the African contemporary design scene is at.
Aptly named Discoveries from Africa, the exhibition gathers together premium handcrafted design for the modern aesthete from all over the continent. The array on offer is staggering and reveals that Africa has a design language that’s edgy, desirable and distinguishable. There’s woven and beaded jewellery from Rwanda and Tanzania; baskets in various styles from Ghana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania; furniture from Knysna, the DRC and Ethiopia; an assortment of fine South African ceramics and photographs that capture the continent’s inimitable urban dwellers, to name just a few.
The latter includes a selection of documentary-style portrait photographs from 27-year-old international success Kyle Weeks. The Namibian-born, Amsterdam-based sharpshooter has worked for Vogue, Gucci and The New York Times, among others, and recently exhibited his work at Unseen, Amsterdam.
“To meet the people behind the products, to understand their backgrounds and bring a story home, in the form of a new item, is what makes my business so personal and heartfelt. The joy I experience when someone in turn discovers this very same article, and takes it away as their newfound treasure, keeps the wheel of retail turning and catapults me into yet another trip,” says Ovenstone.
The exhibition is intended to be a sensory journey, taking visitors and shoppers through the sights, sounds (by way of videos) and scents of the countries that the duo have drawn from. In particular, Ovenstone and Newman have tapped into the artisanal, bohemian energy of the island of Lamu, Kenya, using evocative imagery.
A portion of all sales will go to The Tikki Hywood Foundation, a non-profit organisation working to rescue and rehabilitate, as well as raise awareness for, lesser-known endangered species, like the pangolin.
• Discoveries from Africa is open at The White House, 6 Crescent Street, Plettenberg Bay, until the end of January.