The Laguna coffee table vy Okha.
The Laguna coffee table vy Okha.
Image: Supplied

HOT PRODUCT: THE LAGUNA COFFEE TABLE BY OKHA

While we’re going into raptures about the crossovers between design and architecture — here’s another one. Cheetah Plains, a new lodge in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, launched last year and designed by interior-design studio ARRCC, spawned a few bespoke furniture designs by Okha, ARRC’s affiliated furniture-design studio.

The “audacious new afrominimalism” of the lodge found expression in pieces like the Laguna coffee table, which Okha has now launched as a stand-alone piece. Its sensual, organic form was inspired by a pool or lagoon, its polished black metal top mimicking the surface of a still body of water. “The shape was motivated by landscape mass as well as the project’s internal spatial layout and was therefore informed both by practicality and nature’s poetry,” says Okha’s creative director Adam Court.

NAMES TO KNOW: NISHA AND JUSTUS VAN DER HOVEN

One exciting discovery to come out of InCommon, the exhibition that kicked off the Wits School of Architecture and Planning’s academic year, has been the talents of creative couple Justus and Nisha van der Hoven. Both architects, they also dabble in art, film, and fashion design.

Nisha is the curator for FuturePart, a kind of embedded research unit set up by architecture firm Boogertman + Partners (B+P), and is the design mind behind the interiors of co-working space Workshop17. Justus is a director at ARC Architects, a day job that combines architecture and property development with private interest in film and a passion for making drawings of futuristic or fantasy African cityscapes.

As curator of the exhibition, Nisha drew on the talents of Justus and his furniture-designer brother Marcus of Takk Studio.

The exhibition itself dealt with the rather academic topic of the “Possibilities of Collective Space” and was all about the future of African cities, especially the potential of inner-city public space, finding common ground, and exploring what makes cities safe, liveable, and vibrant.

InCommon exhibition at Wits University.
InCommon exhibition at Wits University.
Image: Supplied

It presented research from the unit, including inner-city street photography, some of B+P’s projects, film, and design concepts.

The magic was how vital and accessible they made it. They transformed the foyer of the John Moffat building at Wits designing bespoke cabinets (powder-coated with leftovers from various Workshop17 projects). Their clever rotating and tilting panels displayed both posters and models, and turned the building into a kind of shopfront of ideas.

Apart from the bigger picture — “trying to change spatial narratives of fear… to commonality and participation”, said Nisha — the creativity and design talent of this dynamic duo is exciting to watch.   

TREND WATCH: WALLPAPER ART

One of the biggest interior trends of the season is another crossover — this time between the realms of pattern design and art. Print designers such as Cape Town’s Lemon have long been working with other designers to create original offerings. “What sets us apart in the print-product landscape is that all our designs are custom created by us,” says Kevin Frankental, co-founder and director of Lemon.

Lemon wallpaper art.
Lemon wallpaper art.
Image: Supplied

While they’re not limited editions or originals, they now come with the option of being mounted and framed. Lemon is also working on collaborations with local artists on special commissioned collections. 

ESSENTIALS: NEW FROM DOKTER AND MISSES

Katy Taplin and Adriaan Hugo, the duo behind Dokter and Misses (DAM), have been quite preoccupied with large-scale projects lately — bringing their talents to projects such as

1,000-room university residences — but they’ve still made time to launch some designs that can fit on a tabletop. The recently launched Hourglass is a collaboration with Ngwenya Glass, the eSwatini-based glass-blowing factory and studio, which manufactures using only recycled glass. They’re known as much for their own work as for their openness to collaborations with designers such as DAM, with whom they devised a series of lights called Moonjelly a few years ago.

Taplin likes the “balance between handmade and refined” that comes from working with Ngwenya Glass. The new range of glassware plays with two trends: one towards wine and champagne glasses losing their stems, and the other with people’s newfound appetite for options. So they designed a beautifully balanced and proportioned series of cups — one pair for red and white wine and another of champagne flutes and coupes — and fused them at the base. The result is a kind of upside-down vessel you can flip. “So you could choose which way you use it,” says Taplin. But they’re just as good for cocktails or water.

Hourglasses from Dokter and Misses.
Hourglasses from Dokter and Misses.
Image: Supplied

The name, Hourglass, is a play on the idea of spending time together, says Taplin, as much as it is on the shape. And they look amazing when they fill a table en-masse.

Another recent launch from DAM is their range of Brick Lights, an experiment with the very base unit of architecture: the brick. They source unfired “green” bricks and etch geometric patterns into them using the “counterintuitive” technology of CNC cutting to shape them.

Brick Lights from Dokter and Misses.
Brick Lights from Dokter and Misses.
Image: Supplied

(Counterintuitive, Taplin explains, because working with ceramics is usually messy, hands-on, tactile work — and they’ve decided to play with the possibilities of industrial processes.) Then they fire the bricks themselves and wire them for lighting. So the universal building block is repurposed and made sculptural, working beautifully as individual units, but with lots of potential for modular combinations. 

 From the April issue of Wanted 2020.

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